Kevin! Spencer! There's something wrong with that kid Kevin! Spencer! His head don't work, it never did Kevin! Spencer! You better not cross his path Kevin! Spencer! He's a chain-smoking, alcoholic sociopath Sociopath!
Kevin Spencer (1997-2005) was an animated series airing on The Comedy Network in Canada during the late 1990s. Kevin was a silent, sociopathic juvenile delinquent who was born without the ability to feel emotions, was addicted to cough syrup and cigarettes, and spoke to an imaginary friend, Alan the Magic Goose, who always gave him horrible advice. His parents were fat, abusive alcoholics, who spent most of their time swearing at each other and committing illegal acts. Very dark and cynical, the show made light of the Canadian justice system and the nation's disadvantaged.The series started out with Kevin and his father in prison, with all the stories being 10-minute snippets of their life on the outside (before they were arrested). Narrated by series creator Greg Lawrence, who also voices Kevin's father, it featured little dialogue and few spoken swear words. The second season altered this to present-day storytelling with no narration, constant swearing (including an uncensored "fuck"), and full half-hour episodes. The stories were often vulgar and crass with low-brow humor, but would jump into philosophical, intelligent and surrealistic events.
Tropes used in this series:
Abhorrent Admirer: Subverted in that Anastasia is physically repulsive, but this doesn't seem to keep her from cheating on Percy with just about every guy she can lay her hands on. Occasionally Lampshaded in that some of the guys she hits on throw up in revulsion.
Arch-Enemy: Slappy Bigelow was a prison inmate who only appeared in the first season and one episode of season two. He was Kevin's main rival for control of the contraband black market in prison.
Art Shift: Greg Lawrence apparently felt that the format of the first season was too chaotic, which was why he changed the format to full half-hour episodes from the second season onward.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: They routinely fight with and cheat on each other, but Percy and Anastasia still express love (or at least lust) for each other. They also get extremely jealous when the other cheats-Anastasia gets pissed off when Percy hires prostitutes, while Percy will cheerfully attempt to kill anyone who does his wife besides him.
Author Avatar: Rick Kaulbars is pretty much the only other writer the show ever had besides Greg Lawrence. Along with Lawrence (see Her Codename Was Mary Sue, below), Kaulbars also inserted himself into one episode as a drugged-out writer who desperately needed to come up with a script for the season's final episode. Kaulbars also includes Lawrence in this episode-Greg mentions that he would have written the script himself, but he was tied up looking after all the teenage runaways at Camp Whosyourdaddy.
A Wizard Did It: On one occasion when Kevin died of a heart attack, Percy asked the wizard who lived in the Spencers' backyard to resurrect him. The wizard does so, and then Percy repays him by telling him to get off his property.
Bad Ass: Anastasia is so tough, she took down Pete Wilcox when he got her mad enough. Percy gets the occasional moment too, like when he got into a fight with a drug addict at an education seminar or when he had his epic struggle with Alcoholic Welfare Man.
Berserk Button: Percy and Anastasia both get extremely pissed off whenever they find out that they've been cheated on by the other one. Anastasia also gets really hot under the collar whenever people are really rude to her and don't speak to her like a "fucking lady".
Bilingual Bonus: What with Canada being a bilingual country, the characters encounter a few signs in French. When the Spencers are riding on a train in Quebec, they see a sign on the wall that reads "Defense de fumer". Percy wonders what it means, and Anastasia thinks that it says "Fasten your seatbelt". What it actually means is "No Smoking". Of course, even if Kevin and his parents really knew what it meant, they obviously wouldn't obey it anyway.
Brother Chuck: Slappy Bigelow was never seen again after the first season, while characters like Charlie Plunt and Pete Wilcox all became regulars.
However in the end of the season 2 episode "Runaway", a inmate that may or may not be Slappy Bigelow does appear and plans to make Percy his bitch for lying to him about having no smokes after Percy is caught smoking. The inmate does look exactly like him but it's never revealed if it is him or not.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Kevin. He gets visits from an imaginary friend, never speaks, and is addicted to various substances.
And then there's Pete Wilcox, a towering mental patient who's so messed up he makes Kevin look normal. Pete has multiple personalities, one of which is a teenage stripper named Brandy Love, suffers periodic delusions of being everything from a sheepdog to a John Deere tractor, and believes that Kevin is Jesus. He's also the closest thing to a friend Kevin has, besides Allen and Bull the legless and armless junkie he met at Ward 9.
Continuity Porn: Surpisingly enough - characters from other, earlier episodes (such as Pete from the first season) could show up at any time, being for a plot-point, or just a cameo.
Crapsack World: Virtually every character is poor white trash, alcoholic, criminal and insane.
Except for the rich people. No, they are racist, uptight snobs who are not above trying to kill off people they don't like.
Deadpan Snarker: The narrator describes things like "Kevin told him to go fuck himself" without the slightest hint of inflection.
Deconstruction: Often zigzagging between episodes, or even scenes. Kevin's upbringing and behavior is presented as a deconstruction of a tragic life, to most people. To his parents, it's normal or funny.
In "The Cruise" Kevin is clearly afraid of the Widow Coulson because he believes she is much more crazier than him, even Allen agrees with Kevin and can be seen by her as well.
There are times when Kevin thinks that Pete Wilcox is even crazier than him.
One time Kevin ran away from home, a man gives him money when he finds out Kevin was a runaway. Due to being a Sociopath, Kevin's response to this is to violently attacks the man and steals the money anyway. Allen the Magic Goose is actually shocked by this and mused that the kindness of others could put his faith back in humanity.
There are times Kevin gets turned off by the sociopathic behavior of his love interest Shauna, he even displays shock over the fact that Shauna has murdered her own mother as he never took a life before.
Fan Disservice: Anastasia usually goes around in a tube top and spandex pants. It gets worse whenever she takes off her top.
Genius Ditz: Kevin's generally pretty stupid, but he's a remarkably skilled singer and chess player.
Hands-Off Parenting: Percy and Anastasia pretty much define this trope. The main reason they keep Kevin around is because the childcare support checks they get for him are a major source of booze and smokes. They're also extremely neglectful, not worrying at all when Kevin disappears for months at a time. They explain that the boy always comes home eventually...and oddly enough, they're actually right.
Hates Being Touched: Kevin doesn't like being touched, especially on the head. Displaying his shiv is the only warning most people need.
Her Codename Was Mary Sue: One season 6 episode features Greg Lawrence as a wealthy and buff sex god who considers himself the King Of Comedy, to the point that he has the title tattooed across his back. The trope is subverted as the animated version of Greg threatens, abuses and murders his staff. They eventually get back at him by causing him to overdose on insulin at the office Christmas party.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Porn Man and Afro Man are a pair of adult film entertainers who not only co-star in their films, but also co-own their own swinging bachelor pad.
Hidden Depths: Anastasia at least attempts to provide a good life for Kevin, and tries to get close to Percy. Kevin himself may be a drunken sociopath, but one of his most sincere wants is to be popular...and to have a hat with a weapon on it.
Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Percy and Anastasia are extremely neglectful and verbally abusive of their son. They don't actually physically beat him, though, partly because they're too lazy to even get off the couch to answer the phone, partly because they don't want to offend a potential kidney donor, and partly because they're freaking scared of him. Occasionally Lampshaded as Kevin feels rage and hatred for his parents and his miserable life, but doesn't seem inclined to do anything about it.
I Am the Noun: When Percy and Kevin are out and about during the Christmas holidays:
Charity Santa: Would you like to donate to the poor?
Percy: Hey, I am the poor, so eff off!
I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: A Rare Female Example occurs with Anastasia, who justifies her cheating on Percy by saying that she has "needs" that she can't satisfy just by sleeping with Percy. Surprisingly enough, Percy occasionally agrees with this.
Imaginary Friend: Allan the Magic Goose. That said, they constantly argue and fight, and Kevin's psychiatrist sees it as less a friendship and more a master/slave relationship. Allan occasionally threatens to let the "Axe Monkey" off its leash if Kevin doesn't do what he says.
Everybody but Allen: the characters are all part of Allen's mind, according to the series finale.
Insult to Rocks: The blind, inbred mountain hicks asked the Spencers to stop showing up at the family reunions because they were embarrassing them.
Laser-Guided Karma: A teenage boy is playing pinball and is on the verge of setting a new world record for the highest score, while he's surrounded by admirers. Kevin then comes up and whacks the pinball machine, causing it to "tilt" and making the boy lose the game. The boy breaks down sobbing, and his admirers all glare at Kevin, who merely flips them off. The admirers all swarm Kevin and give him a mass No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that puts him in a temporary coma.
Like Father, Like Son: Percy and Kevin are both chain-smoking, drug-abusing, alcoholic repeat offenders. Kevin has also inherited his father's bald spot, a trait which Porn Man and Charlie Plunt share for some reason.
Long Runner: Eight seasons might not be that long by American standards, but in Canada, it's everything, as this show is the longest-running animated series that's not an import.
Moustache Of Evil: Subverted by Kevin's Uncle Lester, who has a moustache that looks like Adolf Hitler's but is actually sober and respectable, unlike the rest of the Spencer family. It's Lampshaded when Percy points out that Hitler was an asshole, and Lester replies that he pretty much ruined that type of moustache for everybody else.
Not-So-Imaginary Friend: A couple of episodes imply that Allan is some sort of spirit/demon entity that simply lives in Kevin's head. When Kevin temporarily dies from a heart attack, Allan returns to the "Imaginary Friends Galactic Headquarters" to be reassigned, while in another he becomes fed up with Kevin and tries to find another head to live in, interacting with several other characters.
Nostalgia Filter: One psychologist tells Kevin that helping the kid was "what [his] wife would have wanted," and starts to tear up. Subverted when Kevin tells the man that his wife was a cruddy old skank, and the man agrees, adding that his wife also farted in her sleep.
Oh, Crap: Charlie Plunt, Marty the bartender, and all the other guys that Anastasia cheats on Percy with get very scared whenever Percy finds out, and with good reason.
Prison Rape: Percy has been sodomized in prison several times, and it's played for laughs.
One example was when Percy revealed that Kevin had ratted him out to the cops. All the other convicts are mad at Kevin, and it looks like they're going to sodomize him as a punishment, but Kevin manages to get released by spiking everybody's urine tests with drugs, with his own urine being the only "clean" sample. All the other inmates were pretty pissed off at having a few extra months tacked onto their sentences, and looking for someone to take it out on. Then they realize that Percy was the one who ratted out Kevin...
In the End of "Runaway", a inmate who may or may not be Slappy Bigelow threatens to make Percy his bitch for lying about having no smokes after he is caught smoking.
In the episode "In Like Plunt", Anastasia teases Kevin about having to go into a truckstop washroom, saying that they're full of perverts who'll make Kevin their "love doll", like Percy was for a Filipino gang in prison.
One early episode has Kevin ordering Pete Wilcox to give Percy a "visit" from one of his multiple personalities, a cross-dressing dominatrix named "Mistress Esmerelda".
After Percy rats out Charlie Plunt and some of his other friends, they give him a "non-consensual prostate exam" the next time he's in jail.
Self-Made Orphan: Subverted with Kevin. He fantasizes about killing his parents and occasionally holds pretend funerals for them, even when they're standing ten feet away. Anastasia is creeped out by this, but Percy points out that if Kevin was going to kill them, he'd have done it a long time ago.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: All the stuff Pete Wilcox saw while serving in the Vietnam War pretty much drove him insane. All the LSD, cocaine and marijuana he did certainly didn't help things.
Silent Bob: Kevin "speaks", and the other characters react to what he "says", but the audience never hears it. Instead, the narrator tells us what Kevin "said". The only times Kevin actually verbally speaks are either in hallucinations and dreams, and in one episode where he told someone else to "fuck off".
Stylistic Suck: The entire series, but the first season has stiffer, cruder animation than South Park in its early days.
The Sociopath: The opening theme song specifically describes Kevin as this trope, but let's examine the checklist:
Persistent lying to mess with other peoples' heads? Check.
Lack of remorse or empathy for others by laughing at their suffering? Check.
Cruelty to animals by killing his dog when he was seven years old? Check.
Poor behavioral controls through a tendency to commit robberies and beatings on people who piss him off? Check.
A history of childhood conduct disorder by smoking and drinking? Check.
Recurring difficulties with the law by going to juvenile hall and adult prison? Check.
A tendency to violate the rights and boundaries of others by robbing and beating them? Check.
Substance abuse from alcohol, tobacco and any number of drugs? Check.
Aggressive and violent behavior by punching or hitting people who make him angry? Check.
Inability to tolerate boredom and committing crimes as a way of relieving boredom? Check.
Disregard for safety with reckless behavior? Check and mate.
Who Writes This Crap?!: Series creator Greg Lawrence does this occasionally, mocking his own abilities as a writer.
Word Salad Script: The second-season episode Dreamland meanders all over the place and concludes without even resolving the plotline of what the social worker was going to do with Kevin. On the Straightening Things Out DVD, Greg Lawrence explains that he'd forgotten to write a script to meet a production deadline, so he pretty much threw one together at the very last minute. Dreamland was the result.
Artistic License - Biology: Percy and Kevin constantly suffer what the narrator describe as "strokes". What they actually suffer are heart attacks.