The single most interesting off-season decision for a television show comes from an unexpected source: CBS' Kevin James hubby-and-wife comedy Kevin Can Wait. In an attempt to overhaul the structure of the series, producers decided to kill off the wife, Donna (Erinn Hayes), in between seasons.
It's a shocking development for any show, let alone a sitcom. Kevin Can Wait executive producer Rob Long said that the decision to kill off Donna was made "out of respect" to the character and Hayes, and is intended to send the series in a new direction, one in which we see Kevin learn how to raise his family on his own following tragedy.
But will we learn how she died? Surprisingly, probably not.
"It's not a big secret, it's just not something we've dealt with yet," executive producer Rock Reuben told TVGuide. "We're coming up about a year later, the family is pulling itself back together. If it becomes necessary for a story, we'll do it, but otherwise we're going to kind of — the show is about moving forward."
Producers haven't even decided on a definitive reason for the death, either.
"We have a bunch of different ideas, but until it's something that's story related or story germane, I don't think we'll [say how it happened]," Long added.
As for why the show decided to kill off Donna, rather than write in a divorce or something not as final, Long once again stressed the "creative reset" of the show.
"I think it's more interesting to see a guy dust himself off and march back into the world, and you root for him more," Long said. "It's a little cleaner. It's a little more dramatic."
Kevin Can Wait will return for Season 2 on Sept. 25 at 9/8c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)
Additional reporting by Liam Mathews.