Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E5: “The Unreliable Narrator” and Wayward Plot

Kevin makes a face as he holds a coffee cup while Allison sits at their kitchen table reading a newspaper
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

The following contains spoilers for Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E5, “The Unreliable Narrator” (written by Valerie Armstrong and directed by Anna Dokoza)

Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E5 strikes me as something of a return to form, in that it’s an entertaining episode of the series that successfully plays as both drama and sitcom, but I can’t help but continue to feel like the overall narrative of Season 2 has been a bit meandering to this point. Maybe it’s that while the throughline clearly lies in Allison’s plan to fake her own death, everything else in the show is more intriguing: Neil grappling with his trauma; Diane grappling with her existential anguish; the burgeoning relationship between Neil and Diane; Tammy inviting Patty to move in with her instead of calling her out about the Vermont footage; Sam living in the backroom of his restaurant; Pete’s relationship with Lorraine and her distinctive laugh…

Kevin Can F**k Himself is supposed to work by taking the sitcom wife who’s been suffering in the background and making her the protagonist, but increasingly it seems to fall prey to the same kind of sidelining of Allison’s story as the genre it’s critiquing.

Kevin shines a light in Neil's face in Sam's backroom in Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E5
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

Perhaps this isn’t fair, and it’s just a matter of Allison’s storyline not landing well for me personally as a viewer, but whereas through Season 1 I felt I had a sense of what the series was trying to accomplish thematically, deconstructing the genre of the sitcom in a way that actually made me want to start talking about Derrida, now it feels like an entertaining enough TV show, but not something to spur a lot of deep thinking. Maybe that will change by the time we reach the series finale.

And if not, that’s OK! We watch TV to enjoy it. I just happen to enjoy it more the more it gives my mind to chew on.

The Unreliable Narrator

The title of S2E5 is noteworthy, but I’m not entirely sure how to interpret it. Who is the unreliable narrator? Kevin Can F**k Himself doesn’t have a narrator in the traditional sense, though it has always made clear that the framing of each scene is tied to a perspective in the broad sense (i.e., that of the sitcom versus that of the drama). But if this is all that is meant—that as the sitcom scenes are presenting a certain version of reality that shouldn’t be taken as objective, the drama scenes are as well—that’s been there all along, and we don’t get a significant upshot in S2E5.

Perhaps there is something more going on, and we should think about events being from the perspective of the character central to the scene. If that perspective is unreliable, that would be intriguing, but again Kevin Can F**k Himself hasn’t given me enough to work with here to avoid feeling like I’m grasping at straws.

I was surprised that Tammy asked Patty to move in with her, seemingly dropping her interest in the Vermont footage she saw at the end of S2E4, or deciding to pretend that hadn’t happened. It could be that this isn’t true and that what we’re seeing is tied to Patty’s perspective, with Tammy really intending to throw Patty for a loop so she won’t realize that the snares of law enforcement are about to grab her from behind.

That could be the case, and calling the episode “The Unreliable Narrator” certainly made me consider the possibility, but if it were I might have expected a payoff within the episode itself, and we didn’t get one. So there’s every chance Tammy just decided to ignore her suspicions of Patty. The situation feels more muddled than it does mysterious.

Sam, Neil, Pete, Patty, Allison, and others stand in a restaurant in Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E5
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

A central scene in S2E5 involves everyone gathered at Sam’s restaurant during the power outage, turning on Kevin as they realize he’s a horrible person. But of course they’ve always known he’s a horrible person and laughed it off, which ultimately seems to be the move most of them make again once the power comes back on. The event ultimately doesn’t seem to pierce the armor of the delusion Kevin projects and sucks others into. They’re quick to forgive him at the offer of a good time.

An exception to this is Neil, who does seem disillusioned with Kevin entirely now, which is an interesting turn of events. Should we read this as retroactive justification for conking him on the head? Probably not, but he deserved it anyway and it’s nice if it’s led to some unexpected character growth. (I’m shipping Neil and Diane now, which I did not see coming.)

And Sam has gone from thinking Kevin to be obnoxious but harmless to seeing him as a despicable human being. So I guess that’s progress.

With Sam offering to help Allison at the end of “The Unreliable Narrator,” I wonder if the narrative might be about to make a turn away from Allison faking her own death, but at the same time significant progress was made on that front in this hour.

Allison rifles through files at City Hall with a flashlight in Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E5
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

Allison and Patty visit their disgruntled City Hall contact (played by Rachel Dratch, who’s as hilarious as always), and manage to get their hands on Gertrude’s death certificate. So the wheels are in motion. What’s left is to see if the plot continues down this path, or if we’re in for a curveball as we enter the home stretch.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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