Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on ABC is a comedy unlike others on TV today. It prompts goodness and is funny. The addition of the word “probably” in the title makes me laugh, because when you first meet Kevin, you do wonder, but is he really going to save the world? We sat down with Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, Showrunners and Creators of Kevin (Probably) Saves the World to find out where the idea came from and why you should be watching.
Thank you, Disney, for inviting me to #PixarCocoEvent and providing travel and accommodations. All opinions about how I hope that Kevin does save the world are my own.
What is Kevin (Probably) Saves the World About?
Kevin Finn (Jason Ritter) is not a good person. He’s not terrible, but he’s selfish, and clueless, and values material wealth and status over all else. And he’s beginning to realize that those things aren’t making him happy – in fact, he’s fairly miserable. Just when things seem to be at their worst, he finds himself tasked with an unbelievable mission… saving the world.
On a dangerous path of despair, Kevin returns to his childhood home in Texas to crash with his widowed twin sister, Amy (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), and teenaged niece, Reese (Chloe East). It is a strained homecoming – he and his family have grown apart over the years – and Kevin has no real hope that anything will get better. But a series of fantastic events, including a meteorite landing near the house, lead Kevin to meet an unlikely celestial guide, Yvette (Kimberly Hébert Gregory). Yvette delivers incredible news to Kevin: in every generation, there are 36 righteous souls on Earth whose mere existence protects the word. Kevin, she tells him, is the last of the 36 righteous. Humanity has been thrown into crisis. Without the 36, the world will begin to lose the one thing that allows us to persevere through the ups and downs of life: hope.
I’ve noticed that fans of this show are either hooked right away, or they need some time to be engulfed in its awesomeness. I was the latter. Honestly, it took me a few episodes to understand what was going on and to connect with the show. Not because of the show, but mostly because I was folding laundry while watching or trying to multi-task. So I missed a lot of the nuances and details. After speaking with Michele and Tara and learning the why, this show needs my full attention.
Where Did the Idea for Kevin (Probably) Saves the World Come From?
I wanted to know where the idea for the show came from, because there are many components! It’s a smart show.
Tara: We’ve been with ABC Studios for several years. We did Agent Carter for them and then a show called Resurrection before that. And we had had a different pilot, actually a pilot that was kind of more tied to Disney IP (Intellectual Property) and everything. We had been working on that and because of various things that happened, we ended up having to shelve that pilot. And it was actually literally the day after the presidential election that our pilot went away.
Michele: At that time, we were like let’s just rewrite something.
Tara: Write something for ourselves.
Michele: We’ll just write a speculative script and maybe it’ll be a cable thing.
Tara: Part of it was like, there’s just a lot of people who are unhappy and don’t feel good about where they are in their life, and that they don’t feel heard. I think we kinda took that as something as inspiration – it felt like people needed something that came from a good place and kind of reminded you that little acts actually do add up and that you can do one thing and that might inspire somebody else to do a good thing.
“It felt like people needed something that came from a good place and kind of reminded you that little acts actually do add up and that you can do one thing and that might inspire somebody else to do a good thing.” -Tara Butters
Michele: I think part of us was like let’s just do something — and we’ve written — and we were on Law and Order SVU for five years. That’s a dark show. I have nothing against that — but it’s like I’ve done that. I don’t need to do that again. We always like sort of blending genres and sort of elements of wonder and mysticism. We met as assistants on the X Files. Even on Agent Carter we, we were blending comedy and drama, action and adventure all in the same show. That’s not always an easy tone for people to understand. Like, even with this show, I think people didn’t know what this show was. And it was hard even for ABC to sort of package it. So, it’s just like just watch it and you’ll get it when you watch it.
Tara: I think in the beginning, they went kinda earnest. Like, “oh it’s Touched By Angel!” but it isn’t.
Michele: Well, not really. It’s kinda hard to encapsulate what this show is…Part of the whole idea of the 36 righteous people, that comes from the Talmud actually, like sort of Jewish mysticism. Very, very loosely based. Like, we took a little bit of that and then sort of made our own rules for it. There’s another concept that I’d heard about while we were breaking the pilot. And it’s a concept called metanoia, which is a theological term that literally means to see the world through new eyes. The concept being one person can’t change the world, but there is a transformative thing that happens when you see the world through new eyes where it actually does change the world. It’s kind of a weird concept to think about, but I liked that that’s sort of what happens to Kevin. When he decides to see the world differently, the world is different. And I kind of like that as a way to approach life. I don’t think we would’ve sold this pitch in June when usually people pitch, because I think it’s too weird and people would’ve been like, mmm, but where’s the cop show and where’s the dramatical drama?
I just love them!! And yes, they did say Agent Carter. I was swooning, because I miss that show.
You Can Watch With Your Kids
Another reason I love this show so much is because you can watch it with your kids. There are some mature themes, so I would say tweens and teens, but I appreciate that it was important to Tara and Michele.
Tara: One more thing is that both of us are parents, and I have a 12 year old and a ten year old and Michele’s are eight and six. I wanted something I can watch with my kids and that we could both sit down and enjoy. Typically what happens is tomorrow morning my girls get up at six o’clock in the morning. We come downstairs and we watch it before school. They see rough cuts, because my oldest reads the scripts, but we’ll watch it on Wednesday morning, because we have to time shift, ’cause they don’t stay up till ten. It was important to us to have stuff that we could watch with our kids.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World was created by two women, and they’re the showrunners! So as the mother of 5 girls, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to support this show. And after meeting Michele and Tara, their sincerity, positivity, and commitment solidified this decision.
Q: This is an industry that has been evolving. It’s more diverse, but it’s still a lot of steps that need to be taken. Do you feel that you have a huge responsibility since, in many senses, you’ve broken ground, because you’re very visible, you are the bosses of this show, and that’s not something that we were used to 20, 30 years ago? Do you feel there’s huge responsibility to the other girls or to the women who are coming after you or might be evolving and growing in this path?
Tara: This year I really like the fact that in the first 13 episode we have three or four women directing. And we were able to get Rob Hardy, a director of color, and that was of the first 13. It’s really hard on a first-year show, because, I wanna say I think it’s below 30 percent in the fact of, of diversity. It’s actually an incredibly difficult task, because you also know that your first 13 episodes are what you’re putting out there to get the show picked up for a full season. So, you’re trying to find people with the most experience too. I have to say we were so lucky this year. I have been so happy with every episode. Every person has come in and brought their A game. And I really enjoyed the episodes. My hope is that all these directors will come back.
Michele: Even as far as like the writing stuff goes, we sort of learned how to produce on SVU. We were there for five years. Neal Baer was running that show. He had come outta the John Wells camp. John Wells had this philosophy of we will train you to be producers, and that doesn’t happen on a lot of TV shows. I’ve worked with guys who don’t like their families, and so they stay, so that means you have to stay. I’m like, I’m not gonna do that. We have this philosophy of, we will train you how to be a producer. We will train you how to be a showrunner. That means — and that came from Neal, too – where the writer is involved from script all the way to Post-production. Even if the writer is 100 percent rewritten, they are still the sorta shepherd of that script, ’cause they know the script inside and out. And so, they will prep the script. They will go out to stay for production and we will bring them into the editing, ’cause I’ve hired co-executive producers, which is a high level producer who’s never sat in an editing room. So you don’t really know how to do it unless you see it done.
Honorable Mention goes to the adorable Jason Ritter. He is quirky, funny, charming, and weird – everything I feel Kevin should be. I mentioned at the beginning that you wonder if Kevin really can save the world. I guess we’ll have to watch to see how this story unfolds. What I do know is that no matter what, Kevin Probably Saves the World will leave you feeling good and teach you that doing good is the right choice.
“Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” airs on Tuesdays at 10|9c on ABC. Episodes are also available via streaming and on demand.
Tune in tonight as Will Sasso Guest Stars as Dave!
“Dave” – Yvette has her reservations when Dave, another celestial being, pops up looking to join her and Kevin on their latest mission: Reconciling Kristin and her mother under the most challenging of circumstances. Elsewhere, Nate tries to work up the nerve to ask Amy out, completely unaware of her budding chemistry with a potential beau, on “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” TUESDAY, NOV. 14 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network.