Kevin Can Wait made headlines earlier this month when it was revealed that Erinn Hayes’ character would be killed off, after Hayes was abruptly let go after one season.
According to executive producer and showrunner Rob Long, the decision to kill off the show’s female lead, Kevin’s (Kevin James) wife Donna, was made for creative and personal reasons.
“The goal was to give Kevin’s character a real drive and a real predicament [involving] how a family comes back together [after tragedy],” Long told TVLine. “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.”
Long shared that it was never a consideration to let Hayes’ character live off-camera, leaving the door open for future reprisals, explaining that the impetus for season two centers on the idea of “Kevin being a single father.”
Long added that the writers and producers were “really attracted” to the notion of exploring Kevin “[learning] how to do all the stuff” that comes with being a single parent to several kids.
On Aug. 1, CBS programming executive Thom Sherman revealed at the Television Critics Association summer press tour the surprising way Kevin Can Wait was explaining Hayes’ absence. “The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date," Sherman said.
Hayes confirmed her departure from the show in June, tweeting, "True, I've been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans." A day earlier, James' King of Queens co-star Leah Remini was promoted to series regular for the second season, effectively replacing Hayes.
Kevin Can Wait premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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