TV casts change up all the time, and quite a few shows will feature revamped ensembles and swapped-out leads when the fall season gets here. But one of the most blatantly mind-boggling instances is central to the impending Season 2 premiere of the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait, which will see Kevin James' recent TV wife Erinn Hayes essentially replaced by James' former King of Queens TV wife Leah Remini. Fans were quite curious how Hayes' Donna would be written off the show, and CBS exec Thom Sherman has revealed she'll legitimately be killed off. In his words:
The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date.
That's almost definitely not the answer being sought out by fans of Erinn Hayes, especially those enraged by the substitution news when it was first announced. At that time, the shock value of the news somewhat outweighed everyone's curiosity about what would happen to Donna, but the inquisitive ponderings soon started to flow, and it's probably smart that CBS decided to get this info out into the open long before Kevin Can Wait fully dives into its promotional push for Season 2.
Even though some may not want to think about such things, the creative team is probably making the right move from a logistical standpoint. After all, the show would have immediately set itself in a corner had Donna just been sent away for a new job or to take care of a sick mother or something, since that would have likely forbade Kevin James and Leah Remini from hitting the TV couple nostalgia that makes their re-pairing so exciting in the first place. And if the writers would have attempted to turn this into a divorce issue, then all of the loving Season 1 moments between Donna and Kevin would have been severely cheapened. And so...death it is.
Also sensible is the choice to push the story forward when Kevin Can Wait returns for Season 2. A sitcom centering on a mourning husband likely wouldn't keep people tuning in, so hopefully Donna's death and the months/years after her funeral are handled tastefully, and in a way that doesn't insult anyone.
It'll be interesting to hear what Erinn Hayes has to say about this, since she was not so pumped about being outsed from the show to begin with, even if she kept cordial about it. Interestingly, it was noted during CBS' panel at this year's TCA press tour (via Deadline) that Hayes did not have a say in the way her character died. (The final insult!) She'll probably be too busy with her new show to keep up with where the second season's story goes, anyway. Meanwhile, Leah Remini still sounds pumped to be involved, so there's that.
Kevin Can Wait already has its fall premiere date locked down at CBS -- Monday, September 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET -- so fans already knew when we'll get to see just how big of a time jump the sitcom will make. In the meantime, head to our summer premiere schedule and our fall TV guide to see everything hitting the small screen soon.