Erinn Hayes’ Donna was a huge part of Kevin Can Wait, and it does stink that we have to use the word “was” in past tense. While losing a series regular on a freshman show is mostly par for the course, it’s a little bit different when you’re speaking about removing a main character from a sitcom. That’s increased tenfold when this main character is the wife of the other main character. Also, it’s unusual when you’re killing off said wife; Kevin will be in mourning in some way following Donna’s death when season 2 premieres this fall.
Kevin James will move forward as the star of the show, with Leah Remini jumping on board as a regular after making a brief appearance at the end of the season.
Why do all of this? Why go through so much effort and risk angering some of your already-established fans? This is something that executive producer Rob Long did his part to address in a new interview with TVLine:
“The goal was to give Kevin’s character a real drive and a real predicament [involving] how a family comes back together [after tragedy] … Also, out of respect for the character of Donna — and certainly the way that Erinn Hayes portrayed her — it seemed like the only right and fair way to treat her character.”
Ultimately, this marks an enormous risk that could either bring more attention to the show or kill it off entirely. In its previous form, Kevin Can Wait was a fine performer ratings-wise — it wasn’t getting big numbers, but it had some loyal viewers and probably would have held onto them for many years. A great comparison is what we saw for many years with Last Man Standing, a show that really didn’t get much attention until after it was canceled. At that point, there were then questions regarding whether or not ABC did so for political reasons. During its run, everyone just watched and the media didn’t pay much attention. They’re paying attention with Kevin Can Wait thanks to the headlines now.
It’s hard to say whether or not this is a great move without actually seeing the show, but the thing that makes us the happiest is knowing that Hayes already has another TV job out there and is not just sitting around waiting for a gig following her time on the show. This makes the move a little bit more palatable and easier to digest than it would have been otherwise. Even still, it always stinks when someone loses their job for creative reasons due to no real fault of their own.
Do you think that Kevin Can Wait season 2 will be better or worse?
Have an opinion one way or another? Then be sure to share some of your thoughts in the comments below! Meanwhile, head over to the link here in the event you want some other news when it comes to the show. (Photo: CBS.)