Cast changes for big networks shows aren't the rarest of TV incidents, but something very interesting and strange happened over the weekend with CBS' hit sitcom Kevin Can Wait. It was announced that Kevin James' former King of Queens co-star Leah Remini, who was the season finale guest star, is joining Kevin Can Wait on a full-time basis in the upcoming Season 2, and that was followed by reports that co-lead Erinn Hayes was fired. But was this really a good move for the comedy?
To start off, we have to consider the fact that Kevin Can Wait was the most-watched new series of the 2016-2017 TV season. And you're talking about a year when pop culture conversations were overrun by conversations centered on NBC's emotional roller coaster This Is Us, so one would assume that Kevin Can Wait would want to adhere to whatever formula led to such stellar viewership. But that's apparently not the case, since fellow TV vet Erinn Hayes confirmed on Twitter that she was let go.
It was admittedly a no-brainer for Kevin Can Wait, which dealt with behind-the-scenes changes pretty early on, to tap Leah Remini for Season 1, since The King of Queens was one of the most popular network sitcoms of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Playing up TV nostalgia is nothing new or unseen these days, as Fuller House proves every time we open up Netflix, and the James/Remini connection is a powerful one. Plus, Remini has been making headlines all on her own for her controversial unscripted A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. But did their reunion make the kind of TV magic that required a long-term follow-up?
Not necessarily. The widely publicized two-part finale was far from being Kevin Can Wait's most popular pair of installments, and in fact, the May 8 finale brought in the smallest viewership of the entire run, with 5.68 million viewers in Live+Same Day stats. Not helping things is the episode's 1.1 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, which ties a series low. The numbers were mostly consistent once Kevin Can Wait hit its stride, but things definitely dipped lower in some weeks than others. Here's hoping that Leah Remini's presence can provide a return to the numbers that came during its earliest weeks.
With the summer season now upon us, Kevin Can Wait won't be back on CBS for Season 2 until some point this fall. While waiting to hear more about this latest shake-up, check out our summer TV schedule for a rundown of primetime's future.