Photo by ABC
When I hear the phrase “feel-good” in relation to a TV show or movie, I tend to roll my eyes. It usually means that it’s family-oriented, overly cheesy, with a lot of slapstick humor — and it’s usually about the holidays. Think a tree falling over while a dog runs through some guy in a ridiculous sweater’s legs, while he responds with a stereotypical shocked expression and bulging eyes, all while you expect an eight-year-old to laugh at the screen. It’s not my cup of tea.
All this to say, when I hear “feel-good” in association with a TV show or movie, I don’t take it seriously. In fact, I normally skip it.
Now hear this: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is the feel-good TV show that our times need right now. It’s not anything that I described above. And you should watch it.
Cheesy? No. Slapstick? Maybe a little. But stereotypical? Absolutely not. The show take a creative spin on a redemption story — a point I’ll expand on in a bit. Down-on-his-luck Kevin returns home to live with his sister after leaving his New York life and job behind. But just as he’s settling in, a meteor hits, and spiritual guide (not quite an angel) Yvette tells him that he’s one of 36 “righteous” in his generation, and he has to find the other 35 to save the world. But first, he needs to learn to do good.
A somewhat unorthodox premise. But one thing caught my eye: Jason Ritter. I’ve been a fan of Jason Ritter ever since I watched Joan of Arcadia. And these shows align in similar ways. Here, Kevin getting signs about things he can do to help people, much like Joan herself did back in the day — with the slight caveat that the spiritual aspect behind it is quite a bit different. Jason Ritter is a delight to watch on the show, balancing comedic moments with earnestness, even in his lowest moments.
Which brings me back to the idea of redemption. The aspect of a redemption story is nothing new. I’m not talking about the Angel type of redemption, but shows where they show a self-centered jerk trying to fix their lives. Think My Name Is Earl or Samantha Who? But what distinguishes this show from the others is that Kevin isn’t just some self-absorbed jackass. He’s not throwing money around or hurting others for his own good. With the exception of one short clip of Kevin when he used to work in the finance industry, it’s almost impossible to ever think he’s materialistic. Instead, his self-centeredness is focused on the fact that he just simply doesn’t think beyond his own issues. He doesn’t actively think of others. We discover that after his brother-in-law died, he doesn’’t do much to comfort his sister or niece. And more so, what eventually brings him back home is an attempted suicide. Kevin is simply unhappy and trying to move on with his life.
But Yvette is here to change all that — which involves some entertaining hijinks. Kevin ends up following signs (sometimes ridiculous ones, like when he was unable to leave a bar because every door returned him to another part of the building) to see where he can help. Of course, Kevin being Kevin, it never goes as smoothly as he hopes — especially when he gets one of his visions, like when an elevator full of water soaks him, masked men are standing over him, or he’s suddenly chased by a tiger when he was previously in the bathroom. While it’s all fun to watch, trying to understand how these visions fit together so he can find the other 35 righteous people becomes a little puzzle over the course of the series.
And in case you think Kevin is the only part of the show worth watching (though, quite frankly, he is the strongest part), the show has a great cast of recognizable supporting players, including JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, J. August Richards, and India de Beaufort. Swisher, who plays Kevin’s sister, struggles with worrying about Kevin and raising her teenage daughter (played by Chloe East). Gregory plays Yvette, who along with making sure Kevin is protected has to deal with her own understanding of human emotion, the longer she’s on Earth. And there are, of course, friends in Richards and de Beaufort’s characters, who are just trying to get along with their lives now that Kevin is back in them.
But what I enjoy most about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is the feeling you’re left with after watching an episode. You’re left uplifted, realizing the little things you can do to put goodness back into the world. Sure, Kevin still has his troubles; he’s brought a lot of baggage with him when he moved to town, and his strange behavior isn’t helping. But it’s a fun way to escape into a Tuesday night, knowing you’re going to laugh and be entertained for a full hour.
It really is feel-good.