Warning: Spoilers for Kevin Can F**k Himself‘s series finale ahead.
After two innovative seasons, Kevin Can F**k Himself went out in a blaze. Literally.
The series finale, “Allison’s House,” picked up six months after Allison (Annie Murphy) faked her own death, left Worcester, and started building a new life as Gertrude Franch. In its last episode, AMC‘s multi-camera sitcom/single-camera drama hybrid granted Allison a second chance at happiness, offered Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) some much-needed clarity, and pushed Neil (Alex Bonifer) towards a fresh start. In a surprising, satisfying, and very fitting twist, everyone’s least favorite sitcom husband also, at long last, f**ked himself.
“We had a few different versions of the ending,” creator and executive producer Valerie Armstrong told Decider. “It was a hard one, because when you set up the series by saying Allison wants to kill him, is it a disappointment when she doesn’t?”
“Allison’s House” opens in Keene, New Hampshire, where our girl Gertrude (I’m sorry, I can’t do it. I’m calling her Allison from now on.) is sporting dark hair and suffering through James Joyce’s Ulysses. Back in Worcester, Kevin (Eric Petersen) is rocking a “my wife allegedly died on a hike” beard, being insufferable as ever, and welcoming his girlfriend of four months, Molly (Erinn Hayes), to the wonderful world of multi-cam. Meanwhile, Neil — still working his way through trauma — is popping from multi-cam to single-cam. And Patty hasn’t given up her Allison search.
After Allison notices a red truck following her, Tammy (Candice Coke) shows up at her apartment, explains that Nick Wyndorff died, and lets her and Patty off the hook for whatever crimes they committed. Tammy quits the police department and asks Patty to move out of Worcester with her, which leads to their break up.
Allison returns home and pays Molly, then Kevin a visit. Now that Molly’s thoroughly fearful of him, Neil ended their friendship to pursue Diane, and his dad moved to Florida, Kevin has no one. The episode’s final 15 minutes feature a brutally honest exchange between Allison and Kevin (who’s finally in single-cam). Allison tells him she wants a divorce, he threatens to end her, and she stands her ground, daring him to do his worst. After she leaves, single-cam Kevin chugs whisky from the bottle, lights a trashcan full of Allison’s belongings on fire in the living room, and falls asleep before the house burns down. Neil, Patty, and a crowd of neighbors watch the flames, and once there’s nothing left of the house but debris, Patty takes her rightful spot on the stoop. Allison appears, and the two share an emotional reunion. After she says she wants to stay in town, the two women agree to “die alone together,” and the final shot shows them holding hands as “Shout, Sister, Shout” by The Boswell Sisters plays into the end credits.
To hear Armstrong explain Kevin Can F**k Himself‘s ending, recall her biggest Season 2 challenge, and unpack the series’ powerful final shot, read on.
After Kevin’s near-death experience in Season 1, he has those few moments of enlightenment. It seems like he could have a full-blown epiphany and try to become a better person. Was there ever a point where that less messy road was considered for the finale? Or was the plan always that Kevin would f**k himself in the end?
We had a few different versions of the ending. It was a hard one, because when you set up the series by saying Allison wants to kill him, is it a disappointment when she doesn’t? That was definitely a question we talked about. We talked a lot about if him dying was the best revenge, or her living well and him being sad and alone. And I thought where where we came out is we promised a big, weird show. And to have him just quietly sitting alone felt anti-climactic to me. What really spoke to me, and what I understood on every level of what the show is saying and how the show operates, is the idea that he is in single-camera, and he does something that he normally would have gotten away with in multi-camera. Do you know how many times we referenced him setting fires? So many. And he’s done it without any sort of problem for forever. And the idea that he does it, and it finally bites him in the ass, and he does it while being vindictive, and petty, and trying to keep Allison there — that made total sense to me. He got his comeuppance, but Allison actually grew. She didn’t have to [kill him] herself. Like she says at the end, this isn’t what she wanted. Not anymore.
Before we learn Kevin’s fate, he has these dark, deeply gross final words with Allison. You mentioned that we finally see him leave his blissful multi-cam sitcom world, where the lighting is super creepy and the vibes are abysmal. Was that transition of him to single-cam something you always wanted to tackle in the series?
We knew that we should. I wasn’t blind to people saying last year that they really wanted to see Kevin in single-cam, and I understood the impulse, but I also felt like I wouldn’t know what the show was, because him in multi-cam was the show that I sold. I do feel like by exploring Neil in single-cam this season, you get a lot of what you would get out of Kevin being in single-cam. You get to explore the same sort of tropes and the dark sides of them, and what it’s like when these guys have to face consequences. But Kevin was not done being Kevin. Nothing had driven him to that place of being so destructive that he didn’t get to live in multi-cam anymore. You really had to get him there. And to us, that moment of Allison saying, “I want a divorce,” and him actually internalizing it and believing it, that could be that moment. So I knew I wanted it to be in the finale. I knew I didn’t want it to be the end of the finale, because it’s not about him to me. It’s been about Allison, and her and Patty. And that physical transition was nerve racking, because it’s one of the few cuts — one of the few transitions — in the show that don’t match up with any physicality. Physicality always helps that transition shot of bringing you from one [world] to the other. But knowing that you’re still in the same space, and we just go from them to him…I’m really happy with it.
Watching this show as a woman, I’m sure creating it, was almost cathartic at times. In the finale, those feelings pop up when Allison bluntly stands up to Kevin, this sickening emotional abuser. Looking at the series, it feels like you not only achieved that commentary on sexism in sitcoms, you also touched on real-world issues of misogyny. Obviously the message here is not for women to try and kill their husbands, then fake their own death. So what do you hope people take away from Allison’s journey?
I think that’s a great way to put it. It’s so not about killing her husband. It’s about standing up for herself. Because the series doesn’t end with her killing Kevin, right? That, to me, would show no growth. She starts out wanting to kill them and then kills him? To me, the most important thing is for her to be able to stand in front of him and finally say, “I’m leaving you. There is no world in which I should be running from you.” And for him to finally show us what she’s known this whole time — what he’s capable of — and that he seems harmless, but he’s not harmless. When Allison leaves, and he says, “I will fucking destroy you,” I believe him. But she’s still able to say, “Do your worst.” She knows it’s going to be hard, but she does it anyways. So I think what I want people to take away is to value yourself enough to do the hard thing like that. Say what you want, and say what you need. Don’t suffer in silence for the next 60 years because you think that’s what we’re supposed to do. Life’s too short.
Now that people have seen the finale, how does it feel to have successfully brought such a unique, genre-bending show to life?
My goal was always to create eight episodes that I could stand behind and be proud of. I don’t know how to make something everyone likes. If I did, I would be endlessly employable. And you know, that stuff filters into your brain sometimes, and you want to please everybody and make something that everyone will love as much as you. But I don’t know how to do that. So I just tried to focus on making stuff I was proud of. And I am so proud of each one of those eight episodes. They do what I wanted them to do, which is they tell an overarching story. They get to a point. Every one has an arc, but also it’s not an eight episode movie, you know? I feel there are no filler episodes…There’s an identifiable thing about each one that makes it fun to watch. So I’m very proud of that. But you know, it wasn’t easy.
What was your biggest challenge this season?
Burning down a house. I directed that episode. It was the first thing I’ve ever directed in my life. I’m incredibly lucky that they let me do it. And Day 1 of Season 2, I said, “We’re burning down a house! Let’s talk about how to not make it bum me out.” Because I knew that our last shot would be Patty and Allison on the stoop, but with the burnt-out husk of that house behind them facing out, and I wanted to make sure we didn’t VFX it to hell so that it looked terrible. [I said]”Let’s figure out how to make it look great.” And god, they did. We had all of our sets outside in a gravel pit and we actually burned them. They built me a to-scale facade of the house and burned it in the gravel pit. It was incredible. And then on the day that we shot that last scene with Allison and Patty, set decorators went in and made that porch look destroyed. Nothing is VFX. There might be a little bit up in the corner, but that’s it. It’s all really there. And I mean, I’d say that was a challenge, but god the team was so great. I’m sure it was a huge challenge for them. But they made it really, really easy for me.
The final scene is so powerful. Allison and Patty sitting on the stoop like they’ve done so many times before, and they’re holding hands and kind of mirroring the Season 1 finale. I feel like this final shot really expresses the core of the show by showing these women who support each other through thick and thin. It was lovely. Especially when they’re like, “Let’s die alone together.”
You know, they don’t need each other, but they want each other. And I also really loved ending on to women who are romantically alone, but fine.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.