How It Feels To Lose Kevin Can Wait's Erinn Hayes, According To One Star

kevin can wait donna
(Image credit: Image courtesy of CBS)

Kevin Can Wait is only a couple of weeks away from returning to the airwaves for its second season on CBS, but it will look very different in Season 2 than it did in Season 1. Erinn Hayes will no longer be part of the series, as her character Donna Gable died during the hiatus between the first and second seasons. Actress Mary-Charles Jones, who plays middle child Sara Gable on the series, was kind enough to speak with CinemaBlend about the show in the wake of Donna's death:

I think that it's still very much a comedy and we start off on a very high and happy note, but we definitely do touch on it and make it very clear. It's been a year since the death of their mom. It's been a bit of a time jump but it's still very much present in the lives, in the situations. But we do start off without as much tragedy. And it's been a year, so there's time for healing. So we're in the more of a moving on process.

While Donna did die between the first and second seasons, the Season 2 premiere won't pick up on the Gable family in the immediate aftermath of her death. Judging by Mary-Charles Jones' comments about what's to come, Donna's absence will be acknowledged without tragedy taking over the comedy. Kicking off a new season of a sitcom with the death of the mother and the family still in the immediate stages of mourning might not have been much fun for viewers. We'll get to see how Sara responds to her new life without her mom, thanks to Mary-Charles Jones' performance.

Given that Kevin Can Wait was established as the story of a man who retires and intends to spend more time with his wife and kids, a lot of fans were surprised when news broke back in June that Erinn Hayes would not be back for Season 2, and the subsequent news that Donna will have passed away between seasons meant that we wouldn't see her again. As it turns out, fans weren't the only ones who were surprised by the decision to write Donna out of the show. Mary-Charles Jones told me this about her reaction to word that Donna would be dying and how the show will be different for Sara and the rest of the Gable family:

I was a bit surprised [about Donna dying] but at the same time, it's really nothing to do with Erinn. She was wonderful and she's actually on a new show right now on Amazon, so it was really nothing to do with her. It was just something in the show wasn't working and we wanted to go in a bit of a different direction. I was surprised, but I also found out that Leah was joining us, and she's been super wonderful and very gracious and welcoming to all of the cast and the writers are super excited and we have a great opportunity with Kevin being a single dad for some storylines, so I'm very interested for everyone to see the second season and get to see Kevin as this single dad character.

Kevin Can Wait won't go back to business as usual, simply without Donna. Instead, the show will focus on a new status quo with Kevin as a widower and single father. Leah Remini isn't joining the series as a replacement for Erinn Hayes exactly, as her character of Vanessa Cellucci has a very different role than Donna did. That's not to say that Kevin and Vanessa will never hook up, but we'll have to wait and see. Whatever happens should make for some entertaining twists.

The series is simply going in a new direction for the new season, and that direction may explain executive producer Rob Long's statement that Donna was being killed off out of respect for the character and for Erinn Hayes. Donna wasn't really a character who would up and leave her family; if Kevin Can Wait wanted to explore the engaging story of Kevin as a single dad, the most logical way for Donna to leave as a regular would -- sadly -- be if she passed away. It should be fun to see how the show will develop in this new era.

As Mary-Charles Jones said, Erinn Hayes does have another small screen job in the works, so fans will be able to find her elsewhere, and we don't have to wait too much longer for more of Mary-Charles Jones and the rest of the Gables back on the airwaves. Season 2 of Kevin Can Wait will premiere on Monday, September 25 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. Our fall TV premiere guide can help you plan the rest of your viewing schedule in the coming weeks.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.