It was the second.
“It’s a nice comparison, but I think our show is much better,” EP Josh Malmuth joked to TV critics. “Mike [Schur] and I think it will have much greater cultural impact.”
Multi-cam midseason comedy Abby’s is shot in front of a live audience – outdoors, which is a comedy series first. It’s about a makeshift bar in Abby’s backyard, where locals find camaraderie and sanctuary.
“When Josh and I were beginning to plan the show we were acutely aware, no matter what we did, it would be seen through the filter of Cheers,” Schur chimed in, guessing that had they cast the show entirely with 90-year-old female actors, “people would still go ‘That’s kind of like Sam’.”
So they stopped “trying to outflank that inevitable comparison,” Schur said, calling Cheers the best written and cast series in recent TV comedy history. “There is no way to beat that show. If you can get in the conversation with that show it’s a dream come true.”
NBC has slotted Thursday, March 28, 9:30 PM for the premiere of the 10-episode series, starring Natalie Morales, who points out she is the first Cuban star of an American TV comedy since Desi Arnaz.
Abby also is the first openly bisexual lead character on TV comedy, Morales said, explaining she’s drawn to roles about marginalized people that do not focus on how they are marginalized. “We are all multi-faceted people; it’s time we see that on television,” she said. “A person can be about more than one thing.”
Challenge of shooting a multi-cam outdoors, with a live audience, was Question No. 1. Biggest challenge: avoiding ambient noise of airplanes and helicopters overhead, sirens zipping by, screaming from horror nights going on elsewhere at the studio – and a skunk who’d staked a claim nearby.
Abby’s, from Uni TV, Fremulon and 3 Arts, was written by Josh Malmuth. He executive produces with Michael Schur and 3 Arts’ David Miner. Pamela Fryman directed the pilot.
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