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Mary Hollis Inboden and Eric Petersen on Their New Series, ‘Kevin Can F**K Himself’

Kevin Can F**K Himself stars Mary Hollis Inboden as Patty O’Connor and Eric Petersen as the protagonist husband, Kevin McRoberts. Patty is Allison’s tough, glass-half-empty neighbor who hides an intelligence and dissatisfaction that bonds her to Allison. Kevin is Allison’s husky and “lovable” man-child. The new dark comedy premiered June 13 on AMC+ and June 20 on AMC. The eight-episode series will continue to air on AMC+ one week ahead of the AMC linear airings on Sundays at 9 PM ET/PT.

Jojo Whilden/AMC

Kevin Can F**K Himself follows the story of Allison McRoberts, a woman we all grew up believing we knew: the prototypical Sitcom Wife. She’s beautiful and can take a joke (though she’s usually the butt of them). And she’s married to a guy who must’ve won some sort of marriage lottery because she looks the way she does and he’s… funny. But what happens when we follow Allison out of her husband’s domain? When she finally wakes up to—and revolts against—the injustices in her life? Kevin Can F**K Himself breaks television convention and blends multi-camera comedy with single-camera realism to make us ask: “who and what have we been laughing at all of these years?”

I got to chat with Inboden and Petersen about their characters, the dark comedy genre, their favorite sitcoms, memorable moments from filming, what they can tease about the show, and more! Keep reading to find out their answers.

Jojo Whilden/AMC

What stood out to you the most about each of your characters?

Eric Petersen: I was so excited to take on this role of Kevin because I’m a big fan of classic sitcoms. I watch a ton of them, I study them, I’ve taught the art form of multi-cam acting in the past, so it’s something that really feels in my wheelhouse. I was so excited to sort of tackle one of these classic sitcom husband characters, but then also be a part of a show that was subverting it at the same time, felt really fun to sort of like, lean into these sort of archetypes. Then be a part of something that was then going to sort of put it on its head and shake it about and hopefully have it be different at the end.

Mary Hollis Inboden: When he says he’s taught television sitcoms, I’m included in that group. I’ve never done a multi-cam before so part of me coming to the role was the challenge of that genre, quite honestly. A live audience, if we could get it in the middle of the pandemic, the timing– I come from theater, but I’d never done that sort of live performance before, and the first three days we spent in multi-cam. And I just have to say thank you again, Eric Petersen, for being the so generously talented maniac that you are because I feel like once you started on the hamster wheel, we could do nothing; there was no option but to keep up and try our best. I think I wanted to come to the role truly because it’s a show where you get to explore the inner lives, desires, and sometimes terrifying consequences that women have to face. You very rarely see that in the genre of the sitcom, the male-led sitcom. Patty, also to me, is like a real tough cookie, and I say I’m from down South and my resting face is just naturally sort of a smiley one; Patty’s the opposite. So I think just the challenge of that was really fun. I almost didn’t even do the audition because I was told that I needed a really pretty good Boston accent and I think I went in with a Brooklyn, New York accent. Valerie said I had to stop talking about how bad my accent is in the show. Anyway, Patty’s a challenge; she’s more than meets the eye and she’s got so much going on. She’s equally dismissed, ignored, and overlooked just as Allison is. She’s just grown complacent in her 10 years, while Allison’s continued to dream, and I love peeling back the layers of those two women.

Jojo Whilden/AMC

One thing I love that you both mentioned was you turn the idea of the sitcom life on its head; you really delve deep with that. And I, as a viewer, love those types of shows. So what did that mean to both of you, like did that make it instantly an attractive script? Have you done anything like that before?

Petersen: No, I don’t think anything has been done like this show before, which was what made it so exciting. I mean, so much of television and, frankly, all of art, a lot of times can feel a little derivative and that’s not bad– it’s art begets art begets art, right? As an actor, I feel so often you get asked to come in for projects, and you’re like, “Oh, okay, I get the tone of that. I know what that’s going to be. Okay, I know what that’s gonna be, I can do that.” But this show really was its own thing and it’s so rare that you get the chance to be a part of those things. So I think everybody on the set was so excited by that challenge, and really felt like we were making something special. It has this great title that sort of grabs you and makes you be like, “Whoa, I’ve never seen that in a title of a television show before!” So I think we were all super excited at the challenge.

Inboden: Yeah, I would just say to that, reading the scripts for the first time, I realized that nothing magical was happening. There’s no like, portal that Allison walks through from the living room to the kitchen. You just follow her. That’s it. That’s the magic– just follow the female. And I think that’s really something very powerful about the show. It’s super exciting and genre-bending, but it also will resonate with everyone in a different way. You can kind of take from it what you like. Some people will watch Kevin Can F**K Himself and be 100% purely entertained with laughter, don’t have to do any work, and can take it just at face value, and some people will watch it and go, “Maybe I need to apologize to my wife or spouse.”

Jojo Whilden/AMC

What are your personal favorite sitcoms?

Inboden: Friends forever, but Cheers too. I actually tried to, you know, in my infancy as a multi-cam star, right, Eric? I tried really hard to bring Carla from Cheers into Patty. She’s just like throwing stuff up there, seeing what sticks, and seeing if those boys ever turn around and pay any sort of attention to her. The relationship between Carla and Diane reminded me a little bit of Patty and Allison in the early stages, but Cheers, always and forever.

Petersen: Those are good answers. Mine would be… I mean, I loved Cheers, Seinfeld, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Home Improvement, All in the Family, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I love so many sitcoms, but those are some of my favorites.

The big difference from a sitcom is obviously it’s also a dark comedy. What was that like doing that genre? Was it really fun or challenging? Is it something you want to do more of in the future?

Inboden: I have to say it [the genre bending] was such a challenge of our show, but I think that after our first three days in multi-cam with that sort of like frantic laughter and on the pace that we’re on, I feel like both Annie and I were able to take a really nice deep breath in the sunlight the first day that we got out of that sort of live studio audience thing. It really is a testament to the show as well. It’s one of the ideas that Valerie Armstrong trying to explore is the fact that in a multi-camera world it’s wide, it’s brightly lit, the house looks old but okay, it’s clean you know? I always say like our makeup in multi-cam is fabulous and we step out into the sunlight and you can see every mistake and every old bad habit, and the same goes for the house, set, and clothes. She’s constantly like, tattered. But I feel like the single-cam part is much more nuanced. In its tone, we can go a little slower, we actually dive into big conversations, and there’s just no room for that in the multi-cam. So both are challenging, both were fun. But I do think that single-cam– I mean us chicks got to get into a lot of trouble, which is fun. Off like a herd of turtles!

Jojo Whilden/AMC

If you had to create a tagline for the show, what would you pick and why?

Petersen: This is probably wrong, but ‘Kevin Can F**K Himself and you can too.’

Inboden: I was gonna say ‘Kevin Can F**K Himself, I feel seen’ or ‘Kevin Can F**K Himself… Hi, we’re here for you.’

Did you guys take anything from set after you wrapped?

Petersen: I did, I took a couple of things. I took… I’m trying to think of what I can say that I took without getting in trouble and I don’t want to give away plot points that I’m not supposed to. There was a scene where I had to break a guitar on a table and I broke like seven guitars in a row. At the end of the scene, I saw this like graveyard of dead guitars and I was like, “What are you gonna do with those?” And they’re like, “We’re gonna throw them away.” I was like, “Can I have one?” And they were like, “Yeah, sure.” So I have a broken guitar that I took from the set.

Inboden: Let’s just talk– yes, you stole that and I’m gonna be missing it in season two, that broken guitar– just a real quick plug for our crew back in Randolph, Massachusetts; mostly local Boston, Rhode Island, New Hampshire people. That was awesome for our accent work and attitude work being on the East Coast, but we had the best crew alive. I didn’t take anything because I’d like us to have a future in Randolph. Except for, they had 12 of the same bra; I stole 12 bras from set. I hate bra shopping and they did it for me. So I stole all of them.

Jojo Whilden/AMC

Without giving away any spoilers, what can you tease for fans?

Inboden: Patty’s got a heart of gold and a major side hustle.

Petersen: Yeah, that’s good. I would say fans can be excited about… I think the show builds to a great climax that also provides a lot of options going forward. Is that too vague? I don’t know.

Do any memorable moments stand out to you from filming?

Petersen: I have one. I was not on the final day of filming, so it’s not even really my moment, but I got to witness it and it made me very happy. I finished maybe three or four days before you guys finished, but I was still in Boston. So I came to set for the last day and after Mary Hollis and Annie finished the last scene that they shot, there was just this great hug between Mary Hollis, Annie, Anna Dokoza (director), and Valerie Armstrong (Creator), and these four strong, beautiful, spectacular creative women like celebrating each other and being the leads of our show. That really honestly was so cool and I got a great picture of it. It was such a great moment that I was like, “I’m really happy to be a part of this thing that I think is really important and is moving hopefully, the industry and the art form forward in a great direction.”

Inboden: Yeah, I hope it’s illuminating. That was such a beautiful moment. For me, it was just anytime Annie– we always used to get in trouble because I have a little bit of a Southern accent instead of my natural Boston accent, so Annie and I used to get in trouble for eating lunch together because I could like go back into my natural Arkansas accent and try to find Patty quickly. And inevitably after every lunch we took together, they finally had to separate us because we would come back and sound like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. It was a full honkytonk because we’re both like a bit chameleons and Annie Murphy like you can talk to her in any accent and it sticks to her like glue. So yeah, we would come back in and I just want to see like a roll of those first takes in a full Southern accent. I mean it changes but women everywhere suffering. They’re suffering in Boston, they’re suffering down South.

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