Over the summer, fans of the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait (such a breed exists, apparently) were stunned by the news that Erinn Hayes–who played the role of Kevin James’ wife, Donna Gable–was being replaced by Leah Remini, who had previously played James’ wife on King of Queens.
The move was shocking, not only because producers keep expecting us to believe that multiple attractive, intelligent women could fall for the various uber-schlubby iterations of James, but also for the way in which the switcheroo was executed (pun intended):
Basically, the writers killed off Hayes’s character and proceeded to treat her death like an afterthought–priority number three, right behind introducing Remini’s character and delivering the yuk-yuks about James being overweight.
Now, fan outrage over the death of Donna Gable (surprisingly not the title of a straight-to-VOD low budget horror flick) has resulted in the fall TV season’s most unexpected controversy.
As of late, Hayes has been favoriting tweets from viewers urging a boycott of Kevin Can Wait.
Meanwhile, Remini went off on former fans of the show, essentially telling them to get a life and stop worrying so much about the fates of their favorite characters.
(Odd argument for an actress to make, but we digress.)
Basically, everyone has spoken out about the Kevin controversy except for Kevin himself–until now.
Yes, you probably never thought Kevin James would say or do anything worthy of the celebrity gossip equivalent of a prolonged drum roll, but that moment has arrived.
And amazingly, it’s not tied to the release of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 3D, which sadly exists only in our dreams.
Instead, James gave an interview to the New York Daily News in which he talked about his show’s plot problems.
His words are mostly meaningless, but it’s fun to hear James talk about the complex Rubik’s Cube of emotion and plot momentum that is Kevin Can Wait, as though the writers were having a hard time figuring out ways for Kev to keep his meth empire hidden from his increasingly suspicious wife:
“The plot of the show didn’t have enough drive,” James said.
“If we got through a second season, I wouldn’t see us getting through a third one. We were literally just running out of ideas.”
Yes, apparently “fat guy breaks chair/splits pants/loves doughnuts” gags aren’t as easy to write as we thought.
Hilariously, James presses on with this explanation, never addressing the far more obvious explanation that fans recognize Remini from his old show, and network sitcoms are products that thrive on consumer habit (see: the reboots of every single sitcom from the ’90s for further evidence).
“I get that people are like ‘Whoa, why would you do this?’ But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward,” James said.
“Now, I have to deal with my daughter in a different way, and she’s gonna go to college, or one’s getting married, or the holidays. And it deals with things in a different, weightier way.”
That’s how we imagine discussions in the Game of Thrones writers room played out:
“So, how about one of the dragons goes to college and then … um, the holidays.”
It’s never an easy decision to make, but it’s a hard fact of the craft that any creative writing teacher worth his salt should impart to his students on day one:
Sometimes, you have to kill off a character so everyone else can have Christmas.
Kevin James just took us to school, y’all.