Kevin Can F*** Himself Creator Valerie Armstrong Reflects On The Series Finale, Frasier, & More [Exclusive Interview]

While season 1 really focused on deconstructing the sitcom wife, season 2 really focused on Neil’s character and really flipped the loyal friend archetype on its head. In fact, it got really dark with his storyline at a few points once he was thrust out of the sitcom. What was it that you were looking to say about friendship with a character like Neil?

That’s a great question. I think season 1, like you said, we were taking apart the sitcom wife [with Allison] and the best friend neighbor [with] Patty. In season 2, we knew who they were enough that we just got to tell stories about them that I really loved. We still had a lot to say about the multi-cam and Allison’s role in it, but we weren’t deconstructing her anymore. We were just on a journey with her. 

For Neil, you’re right — this opened up a sort of new side to him. What was very important to us was that we were able to tell stories about Neil without ever letting him off the hook for what he did. Because asking people to forget that he can be violent and can put his hands on a woman, I don’t want to ever ask people to forget that or discount it. So to tell a human story about him that wasn’t trying to be manipulative or make you feel bad for him, I thought was very, very important to us. We thought about what his awakening would look like, once he’s sort out of that multi-cam all the time. How does a guy like Neil deal with that? 

First, he tries to distract himself. He’s like, “Kevin, you need an assistant. I’m going to make myself busy. I’m going to be your assistant. I’m going to focus on that. A distraction sounds great,” but he can’t live in that forever. Then he tries to deny it. He tries to stuff it down and pretend it didn’t happen, but he can’t do that, either. And so he turns to different outlets to try to deal with it, one being Diane, and he starts to slowly sort of break away from Kevin. It’s like he doesn’t like being around him, but he can’t internalize that yet. He doesn’t know why. And so I think for me, it was important that we got him to a place where yes, he realizes by the end that Kevin is an ass and that Kevin has been treating him poorly, maybe their entire relationship. But he’s not far enough down the road to be self reflective and say, “I embody some of these things, too.”

So my hope for him, the way that I picture him ending … the one chance he has is when he walks away from Patty, when he says, basically, “I’m not going to make anybody else do this for me. I can’t make Patty help me change. I can’t make Diane help me change Kevin. I can’t stay in that world with him, either.” My hope is he walks off into the distance [and] that he’s going to figure it out. He’s going to become better and realize his own place in that Kevin universe. But who knows if anybody’s actually really capable of change?

“Are people are capable of change” was such a great theme that was present throughout the series.

I think we argue that people do, people can. I hope they can. I think Allison does. I love the moment in our finale where Sam says, “People don’t really change.” And Patty says, “But she did.” She gave up everything. That was not something that Allison of the pilot was capable of, because she was too mired in her own personal drama. She was too self-centered. And I think that as her world grew, she grew.

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