AMC's new dark comedy Kevin Can F**K Himself highlights some big problems in the sitcom world, and star Eric Petersen hopes it can be an agent of change. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Petersen talked about how the show has changed his perspective on multi-cam sitcoms and what he wants to see in them going forward. Although Kevin Can F**K Himself takes shots at the genre, Petersen said he still loves it personally.
"You know, I definitely have gone back and watched a lot of sitcoms since we filmed," Petersen said with a laugh, "and it's a different way of viewing it. You see so much -- there's misogyny, there's racism, there's homophobia. There's so many problematic jokes or plot lines that are at somebody's expense, and it does make you just cringe every time you see it, because now just knowing what our show has been aiming to do -- I think successfully does. It really points out that that's happening, and so I definitely view them in a new light."
Petersen has worked on many straightforward sitcoms in the past, and he said that while this experience has changed his perspective, it hasn't dampened his love for the genre. He continued: "I will say this: I'm not one that feels like 'oh, well, because of this we should definitely, like, not make multi-cam sitcoms anymore.' Because I think that the art form is pure and is great."
"If we can just get some characters, and more inclusivity -- in casting, and in the writers' rooms, and in the directors, and the people that are on the crew, and camera operators, and set decorators, and costume designers and all these things -- if we can make all that more inclusive, then we can still write silly, slapstick, broad comedy that deals with all types of different characters," he went on. "And everybody can be the butt of the joke here and there, but it doesn't have this sort of overarching tone where the women are always the bottom of the joke. Or, you know, we can make it where there are good and bad characters, rich and poor characters, smart and dumb characters, of all races and sexes and creeds. And we can just sort of spread the wealth more equitably."
"If that happens, then we can still make a classic American sitcom," Petersen finished. The actor acknowledged that these kinds of shifts have already been taking place on some productions, and that it will be far different from the cathartic work of Kevin Can F**K Himself. Petersen plays the bumbling husband Kevin in the multi-cam half of the show while Annie Murphy plays his beleaguered wife Allison.
The show will need to spread its subversive message first, and sitcom creators will need to digest it for Petersen's desired changes to take effect. Kevin Can F**K Himself premieres on Sunday, June 20 on AMC. It is streaming early now on AMC+.