NBC's new series Abby's may remind you of a certain other bar-based sitcom that ran on The Peacock Network from 1982-1993 and considered a classic by many – it's understandable. But its differences are what might attract a serious amount of eyeballs when the 10-episode midseason comedy premieres Thursday, March 28, 9:30 p.m. ET. The final two episodes of Will & Grace will move up to 9 p.m. ET on March 28th and April 4th.
While the whole "illegal outdoor bar" aspect automatically differentiates this series from Cheers in front of the camera, it also helps Abby's establish its own identity behind the camera. The midseason series will be shot outdoors and in front of a live studio audience – a first for a comedy series.
Natalie Morales' (BoJack Horseman, Harley Quinn) Abby is also the first openly bisexual lead character on TV comedy – one of the many aspects to the character that attracted the actress to the role and the series: "We are all multi-faceted people; it's time we see that on television. A person can be about more than one thing."
Written by Josh Malmuth with a pilot directed by Pamela Fryman, Abby's is executive prodcued by Malmuth, Michael Schur and 3 Arts' David Miner – from Uni TV, Fremulon, and 3 Arts.
Shot outdoors in front of a live studio audience, a first for a multi-cam comedy, Abby's centers around an unlicensed, makeshift establishment in Abby's (Morales) backyard, the perfect gathering place for locals to find camaraderie and sanctuary. To maintain the perfect bar ecosystem, all patrons must abide by a specific set of rules. This includes no cell phones (not even to look something up), understanding that earning a seat at the bar takes time to rise through the hierarchy and knowing that losing a challenge may have some unpleasant and unpalatable drink-related repercussions.
As bar owner, Abby has found her true calling, hosting friends and newcomers alike. No nonsense, Abby is ex-military, having served two tours as a Staff Sergeant in the Marines. Her world is shaken when new landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin), who recently inherited the house from his deceased aunt, unexpectedly shows up citing all kinds of reasons why the whole venture is illegal. Newly divorced, he is a cautious worrier and definite non-risk-taker who eventually warms to the place and agrees to let the bar remain open, provided Abby makes some changes.
Series regular cast also includes Fred (Neil Flynn), a fixture at the bar who is grateful for a place to enjoy a beer and conversation – and refuses to allow some bureaucratic busybody to disrupt his perfect refuge; Beth (Jessica Chaffin), a harried mom living next door who can escape the madness of her home life while still keeping an eye on things from her perch atop a bar stool; Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia), the bar manager who prides herself on having memorized all 162 rules and regulations; and James (Leonard Ouzts), the gentle scaredy-cat of a bouncer who crumbles in the face of confrontation.