Mary Hollis Inboden delivers one of the years best and most surprising performances as Patty in the Annie Murphy-led Kevin Can F*** Himself. As a woman who has long settled with the lot she’s been given, her friendship with Murphy’s Allison in Season 1 see’s her discovering who she is outside of the relationships she’s long suffered through.
The best aspect of her performance is how despite the tough exterior of her character we’re always able to see through the cracks and view the vulnerability that’s barely contained. It’s a layered and authentic performance. With Season 2 announced to be the show’s last, and considering the enormous cliffhanger Season 1 left viewers on, it will be fascinating to see where the show takes this character in particular as she finds herself increasingly invested in Allison’s plan.
We spoke to Inboden about getting to play a character outside of her comfort zone, and what she’s looking forward to exploring with Kevin’s character and toxic masculinity below.
TYF: Your character Patty feels so real—I know that character, I have Patty’s in my own life. Was she a character that you were able to draw from people you know or even from parts of your own personality?
Mary Hollis Inboden: I think I’ve known women like Patty before and I think I did draw on them and this idea of the “real tough girl” who you’ve heard the saying about like she’s a hard nut to crack. But once you get past the shell though she’s really nice. That came to mind when forming Patty. I’ve never played a character like her—honestly I’m usually goofy and smiley so this was quite a challenge for me but I loved it every step of the way too because just like what our show tries to say there’s more than what meets the eye. When you come across any person who has a tough shell I’m very interested to know how they got that way or why they’re that way. Just like with Patty there are ample reasons for her to come across as hard or guarded. This is a woman who not many things have gone right for in life and now she is saddled with being a minion in Kevin’s universe and Kevin is not a great time and pretty toxic and I feel like Patty is smart enough to know that but doesn’t care to change her situation for fear of retaliation or simply not having a group anymore.
Patty is not somebody who does well on her own so I think that the group mentality even if it’s led by Kevin is something that’s more comfortable to her than being by herself. I do love Patty so much too because I think that she’s not just a tomboy trope in the multicam. She’s not just a follower and not just a tough girl or one of the guys and she’s not just miserable and bitchy—there are reasons for that and Kevin Can F*** Himself explores those reasons why.
TYF: You mentioned that this isn’t the type of character you typically play. Was that part of the draw for you in taking the role?
MHI: I honestly thought when I was reading the script that it was for a multi-cam and I thought I could be a shoo-in for the best friend on a multi-cam, because the way they are structured the women do so little anyway so I thought I could come in and do my thing whether it be bitchy or happy and leave. I was so excited to see that it was Allison’s story and what an exciting page turn that was when I saw that she walked into the kitchen and instead of this brightly lit sitcom the set darkens and the walls close in as you realize she hates her husband, and I thought that’s it, that’s the story I want to tell. I can’t believe that they thought of me for this, so yes it was a complete disruptor of a script for that first episode that I wanted to be a part of it, and it was going to be such a challenge with the big ideas of the show being so complicated to get across that I found it so exciting.
I sort of thought that with my sort of peppiness and natural disposition being so different from Patty’s that I’d never get the part. Luckily the producers believed me enough to let me try and do my best ‘tough girl’, but what we saw over the course of the first season is that Patty is not just that, she plays that in the multi-cam around the guys, because, you know, I think we’ve all been in situations with groups before that maybe are the kind where if you speak up you’ll be made fun of, so Patty sort of goes with the flow until she meets Allison and they realize are both miserable together and they try their damnedest to come up with plans to make them live the lives they want to live.
TYF: I was wondering how the reaction has been for you, because these characters are very obviously trying to commit murder but we’re still rooting for them, and I always am curious to see how much it would take for a male character to be seen as unlikable compared to what it takes for a woman. I’m thinking of something like with Breaking Bad, where over time everyone sort of fell in rooted with Walter White and hated Skyler; have you had any feedback along those lines?
MHI: Oh man, come write for our show! That is exactly it, you have to walk this fine line that we are trying to dissect and it is very tricky to pull off. Yeah, there are a few parts to this. One is that we have Annie Murphy, she is so delightful and likable, and so good at her job with this natural charm that her incredible skill is something that you want to follow. We also very early on decided who the hero was in our story and centered it around a sitcom wife, so AMC took a big risk with this show that has multiple genres being flipped over.
The story isn’t actually about Kevin, it’s about his wife and how filled with rage she is for all of the things that he’s done that were inconsequential to him but have ruined her life. So I think it is such an interesting point that when you have a female lead character that has to be likable it becomes a testament to Annie’s skill and charm that you believe in her, and you have to remember that Kevin is not really a literal man, he is a big idea of toxic masculinity. If you personify that concept run amok, of men dismissing women and their point of view and making decisions for and about women and not inviting them to the table to have their voice heard, then showing that idea is the ticket for so many. If he becomes not a human being, which we can do by making him this trope of an idea, where he is xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and a racist, you get to go deep into all those issues, and that is where I feel like our show really sings.
TYF: With all that being said, is there a want to almost keep him in the bubble of the sitcom version, because, spoilers aside, what could happen when you actually take him out of that?
MHI: Well I know so little about our second season that we are going into, but my hope is that it seems like we share is that Allison’s point of view starts to be bolstered by other people that Kevin has ruined or made life really hard for. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t always believe women, but making it Allison’s singular journey with this one man gets away from our idea of it being a lot, it being a big problem that isn’t about one specific guy. So I would love to see other people in our wake in season two getting their moment to speak up.
TYF: Something that I truly loved about this show that I don’t think we get to see represented often is how it taps into female rage in a way that feels very realistic, which in most media is played off as a joke or as women being nags. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that?
MHI: Annie and I talked about this, how frustrating it is that once you hear it or see a toxic male in a sitcom and see who is at the expense of these jokes it is really hard to unsee. I will for sure go into my next multi-cam experience with a whole new set of expectations. I love exploring the ideas that this world is completely inconsequential to Kevin, he can say or do what he wants and can ruin people’s lives and take all their money and leave them with no options, and we laugh about it. It is very real for Allison, so it’s all for very genuine reasons that make her bitter and miserable and ready to take her life back. Yes she makes an extremely bad choice in killing her husband, but she needs faith that she can have the life that she wants to. I hope if we ever get to meet Kevin in single-cam, which I really hope we do at some point, you would see him for the actual abuser that he is, but because we never see him in that medium there is no time to sit or wallow in whatever whatever they are saying because everything is built for the joke and you just run over all the really important and damaging messages. I love that our story says that this can ruin people’s lives, but lets us sit with the fallout from it to go into the true consequences.
SEASON 1 of the dark comedy series KEVIN CAN F**K HIMSELF is now available on DVD and Blu-ray! Watch the trailer for season one here.