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A new comedy delves into the low-stakes hilarity of average Midwestern folk
If you’re looking for a big taste of small-town life… well, Welcome to Flatch.
Premiering this week, the Fox sitcom from veteran producers Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) is based on British series This Country, taking a mockumentary approach as—à la The Office—a documentary crew showcases the residents of the Midwestern town of Flatch. It’s a quirky group, with a particular charm.
Cousins Kelly and Shrub (played by single-named newcomer Holmes, alongside Sam Straley) provide the crew’s entry point to Flatch, whose citizens also include the local minister (American Pie‘s Seann William Scott); his newspaper-editor ex-girlfriend (Aya Cash, late of FX’s You’re the Worst); and the historical-society chief (Taylor Ortega). Justin Linville and Krystal Smith also play Flatchians, as Bicks refers to them.
I think what it allows us to do, Bicks says, and what it did in the original, is to get inside the characters’ heads. It gets to be much more on-the-fly, so everything feels more immediate. When you have actors—as we do—who are great on-the-fly, you can catch things super-quickly. The comedy flows much more clearly, and that was really exciting for me.
For Feig, himself a frequent director of the American Office, the town of Flatch is a throwback to his own upbringing in a Detroit suburb. I just knew I had to get out of there, he reflects, not because I didn’t like it, but because I wanted to do what I’m doing now and try to represent the Midwest. That’s what I did with Freaks and Geeks, and what I have been trying to do with everything that I do about underdogs. I really like to try to show the places and the people that don’t normally get shown in movies and TV. That’s why this show is so exciting to me.
Cast member Cash believes the series’ pace makes it digestible enough to accommodate binge viewing, should you decide to wait till a few episodes have piled up in the On-Demand section of your cable box.
One thing that may not seem obvious about the documentary form, she reasons, is simply how quickly it goes. I feel like there’s a real pitch to be made about how you can still come up with really quality content in a really fast amount of time. It was fun to be on something where you [were finished in time so you] could have dinner some nights. I mean, I was alone in my hotel room, because it was COVID. But it was dinner time.
Welcome to Flatch premieres Thursday, March 17th at 9:30 p.m. on Fox