‘Kevin Can F**k Himself’ Spotlights Gender Inequity of Marriage Through Wardrobe
AMC’s subversive dark comedy Kevin Can F**k Himself sports some important but subtle components. Salon.com recently called out the use of depressing wardrobe choices for Schitt’s Creek’s Annie Murphy as a way of sending a message about gender inequity and relationship dynamics.
The show is about an unfulfilled housewife
Allison McRoberts (played by Murphy) is a sitcom Massachusetts housewife with a sitcom husband who doesn’t give a damn. Boorish, dimwit misogynist Kevin (Eric Petersen), has basically left her with nothing after alienating her from friends and family, spending their money on himself, and bullying her out of the job she adored. He’s a controlling, emotionally abusive narcissist with a sexist mindset, and his treatment of Allison is a reflection of his pathetic male-dominated ideals. Having lost herself entirely to 10 miserable years of marriage, Allison feels like she’ll die if something doesn’t change. “The world revolves around him,” says the emotionally haggard Allison. “It has to stop.”
So what’s the best way to showcase Allison’s drab, dead-end existence and the hopelessness of her marriage? A drab and hopeless wardrobe, of course. Costume designer Carol Cutshall recently explained to Salon that it was a way to convey Allison’s situation in an almost literal way.
“The repetition of Allison’s jeans, jacket and her shoes — one of the things we really wanted to show was the contrast between where the money in the family is being spent, and that she really is not spending money on herself,” Cutshall told Salon. “She really is constricted financially and would need to get permission for anything she spent money on.” By contract, Cutshall pointed out, note how Kevin’s sneakers are always new.
Financial inequality for women is at the center of AMC’s Kevin Can F**k Himself, among other problems. Taking it a step further, Cutshall told Salon, she dressed Kevin’s chauvinist buddies in badly-out-of-style outfits. She did this, she said, to “show how outdated those modes of thinking are.”
Annie Murphy purposely distanced herself from her ‘Schitt’s Creek’ character
Murphy, who scored an Emmy win last year for her supporting role in Schitt’s Creek, told Interview magazine last month that she specifically wanted to avoid being typecast after her happy-go-lucky persona Alexis Rose. She’s having a blast playing a character whose wardrobe doesn’t reflect Rose’s posh background.
“I was in L.A. last year, reading so many scripts and going out for so many auditions. I was like, “I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this.” And then this script came along,” Murphy told Interview. “It was so different and smart and such a massive departure from Alexis, who is a character that I loved playing so much, but from whom I wanted to get as far as possible for my next job.”
Murphy added that she’s enjoying the role, expressly because it allows her to portray something that’s the precise opposite of her previous role; it allows her to express the anger that comes from being stripped of basic rights. “It feels f—ing good,” she told Interview. “I went from playing a beautifully put-together, rich socialite to playing a lower-middle-class, angry woman with a Worcester accent. It was a really nice departure, and I’m stoked for people to watch.”
Cutshall told Salon that although out of date, gender attitudes are still a problem
When it’s all said and done, Cutshall’s interview with Salon shed light on a problem that she feels shouldn’t still be around. The misogynists who infect Allison’s world and erase any hint of privilege, she indicated, are still all too common.
“We like to think of these characters as, ‘Oh, people aren’t really that way, anymore, they don’t really talk that way’ — but it absolutely is, people are exactly that way,” Cutshall explained to Interview. “So there’s a lot of confronting the fact that what you think is your past is actually your present, and just how unacceptable this treatment is, now, currently. It should be long gone.”