What am I supposed to tell my kids about the shocking developments on Kevin Can Wait, the CBS sitcom that I was not aware of until literally just this moment? If you don’t know, Kevin Can Wait stars Kevin James, otherwise known as Paul Blart, shopping center security professional. He used to star on a television show called King of Queens, which, if I’m remembering correctly, is about a deposed monarch hiding out in a troupe of drag queens. It was Anastasia meets The Birdcage and your aunt couldn’t get enough of it.
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King of Queens ran for an incredible nine years, otherwise known as 328.5 Scaramuccis. During the 207 episode run, audiences delighted in the caustic banter between James and his television wife, Leah Remini. Kevin and Leah brought laughter through tears playing a couple that clearly resented each other but could not afford therapy. It was a stunning allegory on the need for universal healthcare and it still shocks me that it has, to date, received no Pulitzer Prizes.
You may also remember Leah Remini as the person who escaped Scientology and has been tempting fate by telling literally everyone about it. My favorite Leah Remini Scientology story is the one where she was invited to play hide-and-seek by Tom Cruise at Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s house. If this is what Scientology is like, scien me up.
Remini, that queen of Queens, rebuffed Cruise with the sentence “I can’t play—I’m wearing Jimmy Choos.” Leah Remini is all of us and I will protect her with my life.
Apparently, Kevin James will also protect her with his life. Or rather the life of his current TV wife. Yesterday, CBS VP Thom Sherman announced that Leah Remini would join the cast of Kevin Can Wait, not as his TV wife, just as a regular person, but as a result, his current TV wife would die on the show.
Honey, I’m shewk. You turn off The Good Fight for five minutes and all of the sudden CBS is doing Hunger Games.
It is unclear whether his current TV wife, whose character I believe is named Mia Lemini, and is played by Erinn Hayes, will perish on-screen to the delight of the ravening masses or will simply expire off-screen, heralded by the sound of a cannon. Either way, this is disturbing television news. No television spouse is safe. Someone please protect Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara; Katey Sagal is out for blood.
This is such a strange way to introduce a new cast member but seems totally on-par for 2017. After all, this is a year when roving bands of millennials are crossing the country killing things like malls, golf, telephone calls, having a job, the electoral college, and Buffalo Wild Wings with pitiless abandon.
Who would have guessed that Kevin James and Leah Remini would emerge as the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of our time. I definitely would have put my money on Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, or Debra Messing and Eric McCormack, or BoJack Horseman and that owl woman played by Lisa Kudrow.
But whatever. It’s not for me to decide. We’re at the mercy of the Reminnaissance. Nothing is safe, not even the sanctity of television marriage.
Follow R. Eric Thomas on Twitter.