During its first season on the air, Kevin Can Wait was known as yet another horribly unfunny CBS sitcom that featured obvious jokes and a cliche-ridden set-up:
An overweight main male character was married to a gorgeous wife and generally acted like a stereotypical buffoon.
Cue the laughs? We guess?
For season two, however, the producers have ensured that at least one of these premises will no longer hold true.
Because Erinn Hayes is about be killed off.
In June, it was announced that the actress would NOT be reprising her role on Donna this fall on the sitcom, which centers on Kevin James as a retired police officer with three kids.
Hayes had portrayed the character’s wife last year.
“True, I’ve been let go from the show,” Hayes wrote on Twitter earlier this summer, adding back on June 3:
“Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans.”
It was also confirmed during this cast shake-up that Leah Remini – who guest-starred on the spring finale and who appeared opposite James for seven years on the series King of Queens – would be added as a series regular for Season 2.
She’d basically be taking Hayes’ spot.
“Dreams do come true,” wrote the actress on Instagram in response to the news, adding the hashtags “#blessed #grateful.”
But the question still remained:
When the program returns, how would Kevin Can Wait explain that its lead character’s wife was now out of the picture?
We now have the answer.
“[Donna] will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time,” CBS programming chief Thom Sherman told reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
Added CBS president Kelly Kahl: “It will be treated with dignity and respect, something that will have taken place in the past.”
Look for the sitcom to jump ahead about a year when it premieres on September 25.
James and Remini’s character won’t be love interests initially, either. That isn’t the plan.
Instead, in the new season, James’ character will join a new security firm run by Remini’s Vanessa.
“I think when everybody collectively saw how Leah and Kevin were together in those last couple of episodes, there was an undeniable spark there,” Kahl told reporters, adding:
“I think Leah and the studio and network got together and we wanted to keep that magic together.”
To be clear, Kevin Can Wait is a terrible TV show.
But you don’t see sitcoms kill off a lead character very often; hence the attention this decision has generated.
“The discussions went on,” Sherman said of why the show will go in this direction.
“We talked about other things. Ultimately, this what was decided with the producers that this was the best way to move forward.”
It’s certainly earned Kevin Can Wait headlines over the summer that it never would have received before.
Perhaps we’ll even tune in for Season 2 premiere in order to find out just how the series handles such an unusual situation.
And then as soon as Kevin James makes a quip about being fat, we’ll tune right out again.