NBC's Abby's: A contemporary 'Cheers', set outdoors, but offering little comedy
Like the series 'Cheers' and 'Friends', Abby's is set in a bar and it comes to life and things change when a new person enters the group.
This article contains spoilers
There's a lot to love about NBC's new booze-filled comedy, maybe because it will take you back to 1982's 'Cheers.' Abby's is a multi-camera sitcom, shot in front of a live outdoor audience. And those are the first words you hear once an episode opens. Premiering on Thursday on NBC, the show revolves around Abby (Natalie Morales), who operates a self-named illegal bar right in her backyard.
Along with Abby, there are a few frequent visitors who have become friends with her. You have Fred (Neil Flynn), who is an ex-Marine and he is someone who takes his drinking seriously, Beth (Jessica Chaffin) who lives next door to Abby and a mother who avoids her family, James (Leonard Ouzts), a cowardly and friendly bouncer, Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia), Abby's talkative bartender and finally, Bill (Nelson Franklin), Abby's new uptight and socially awkward landlord who inherited the property from his dead aunt.
The first three episodes spanned a time frame of 20-23 minutes each. Just like other series like 'Cheers' and 'Friends', Abby's is also set in a bar and it comes to life and things change when a new person enters the group; another reason why this series reminds you of a lot of the throwbacks mentioned.
But the series also has a different kind of atmosphere because it is shot outdoors mostly with a little of it based inside Abby's house. Most of the laughter is from two characters who do a good job of making you laugh a little Abby and Fred. But as simple and repetitive as that might sound, there are different aspects that make Abby's stand out, starting from the fact that it isn't revolved around romance.
The show also revealed subtly, through a subplot in the second episode, that the lead, Abby, is bisexual. The most special thing about Abby's is the importance it places on friends and neighbors who can come and hang out at the bar anytime they want. But at the same time, they are little cautious about inviting newcomers to the bar, hence they have a whole set of rules, 162 to be precise. But once you make your way in, you're like family.
It might sound good hearing about what the plot is, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done if the wants to make a big impact, especially in terms of comedy. There are literally just a few places where you will find yourself stifle a laugh, otherwise, it's a poker face. If you think the cast's goofiness add to the comedy element, that is very minimalistic as well.
Another thing that this story lacks is characterization. There is little to nothing we know about most characters including Abby. Abby, as we will get to know, did two tours overseas, had an alcoholic father who used to show up and tell her what to do, and now runs an illegal bar in her backyard so she doesn't have to go anywhere.
We have no idea why she is so secretive, even with her friends at the bar. Will this lead to something bad happening? We have no idea about that. The same goes for the other characters, who we learn nothing about in the first three episodes.
There are three characters that stand out among everyone and they are played by Natalie Morales, Neil Flynn, and Jessica Chaffin. The rest have to up their game if they want to be noticed at all. One good thing about Abby is unlike every other typical series, Abby and Bill do not get together, not yet, at least.
Overall, if you look at Abby's from an outlook of this generation, the series has a lot to patch up and change or it might end with just the first season. You might just find yourself looking at your watch hoping the time has passed.