Sketchy things everyone just ignores about Kevin James

Thanks to his role as Doug Heffernan on the popular CBS sitcom The King of Queens (1998-07), Kevin James earned a reputation in Hollywood as the "everyman" actor with funny parts in Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), Grown Ups (2010), and Zookeeper (2011). He's also well-known as a clean comedian who doesn't use profanity or provocative material in his stand-up routine. While that seems like the makings of a squeaky clean celebrity—a rarity in Hollywood—James is no stranger to controversy and has demonstrated some questionable choices throughout his career. 

A showrunner allegedly quit because of him

James returned to CBS in 2016 with a new sitcom called Kevin Can Wait. While the comedy about a retired police officer adapting to civilian life made a strong debut, it did not go over well with critics. New York magazine called it flat-out "terrible and unimaginative." Others couldn't help but notice it's similarity to King of Queens, particularly after James' TV wife, actress Erinn Hayes, was killed off, and his former King of Queens TV spouse, actress Leah Remini, was welcomed aboard.

Critics may not have loved the show, but shortly after it debuted, CBS ordered a full season. Ratings were solid, but things went sideways when showrunner Bruce Helford allegedly quit over "creative differences with James," reported Deadline. The news was shocking, considering Helford had previously worked with notorious Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen on Anger Management and still managed to take that show all the way to syndication. How bad could James be? 

His views on women are a tad outdated

In a piece about sexism in Hollywood, Salon noted that James is among the Hollywood actors who often star in projects that feature a fun-loving husband with a nagging or personality-less wife. He also tends to be paired with remarkably attractive actresses, which has made him the butt of several jokes by comedian Amy Schumer who, according to Variety, often compares his career as a stocky comedian to her own.

In James' defense, he didn't invent sexism in Hollywood, and the problem has plagued the industry long before he became a star. However, he is the creative force behind Kevin Can Wait, which certainly hasn't helped flip the script. "All the sitcom tropes that feel like they should be a thing of the past are here," writes Jen Chaney for Vulture, "the gratuitous laugh track; the nagging, much hotter wife…the man-boy husband who can't be bothered to rake leaves, pay attention to his kids' behavioral problems, or eat fewer than four burgers in one sitting; and dialogue that sounds like it came from a spec script written in the early '90s." 

He may use nepotism to get jobs for his brother

James has an older brother who goes by the name of Gary Valentine (neither bro uses their real last name of Knipfing). The two look a lot a like, and so do their IMDb pages. Valentine has landed a slew of roles in James' projects, including King of Queens and Kevin Can Wait, Here Comes the Boom (2012), the Mall Cop franchise, and more. While it's convenient to be able to cast your real brother as your TV brother, as is the case with Kevin Can Wait, it appears James' starring roles are largely keeping Valentine in business. Nepotism isn't uncommon in Hollywood, but that doesn't make it cool.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is arguably homophobic

In 2007, James and Sandler starred in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, a comedy about two New York City firefighters who pretend to be a married gay couple so James' character, a recent widower, can make sure his kids have access to his life insurance? (Valentine was in this one too, by the way.) The movie ends with a unifying message of respect that was enough for GLAAD to give it a pass, according to Entertainment Weekly. However, the organization have issues with the film's "expected stereotypes," and years later, Uproxx called the movie "blatantly homophobic."

"It'd be equally silly to deny that a goodly percentage of the 115 preceding minutes—Yes, this movie is obscenely long—are mostly about Kevin James and Adam Sandler's characters making it clear that in order for Chuck and Larry to do some silly thing involving life insurance, they have to lower themselves in the most humiliating way they can imagine, by pretending to be a gay couple," writes Daniel Fienberg. "What follows is a string of 'Being gay is gross' and 'Having people think you're gay is gross' farce, punctuated by 'If you're gay, you can get ultra-close to hot women' ickiness."

Though James has never publicly spoken out against the gay community, he apparently doesn't have an issue with making homosexuality a punchline.

He's allegedly a jerk to fans

Take these with a grain of a salt, but online chatter suggests James may not be so nice to the little guy. According to a commenter on a Reddit thread, the actor allegedly wouldn't let a waitress ask him for his drink order while at a restaurant in Connecticut. "You were told not to talk to me directly," he supposedly told the server. Another commenter claimed that when he got a chance to visit the King of Queens set, James refused to acknowledge him the entire time, even when they were standing right next to each other. In another incident, a commenter who worked at a car dealership near the set of Grown Ups claimed that all dealership employees were specifically told by management "not to even look" at James while he was shopping there. Though this is all unsubstantiated scuttlebutt, it certainly doesn't paint a flattering picture of an actor who butters his bread playing a perplexed everyman.

He can turn it around

Though James' particular brand of comedy has reportedly perpetuated stereotypes, he still has the fame and exposure to change course and steer his work in a more progressive, less formulaic direction. Perhaps reuniting with the fiery Remini on Kevin Can Wait will usher in that change. We certainly hope so, because what worked in the past, may not go over so well in the future. The world's changing, and we're hoping James can change along with it.