Oct 20, 2022
They Deserve Some Damn Attention
With so many new sitcom titles dropping on TV and streaming platforms these days, it can be a challenge to try and catch them all. And while I do miss many new titles, I was lucky enough not to miss this one, and I’m glad I didn’t because it has become one of my new favorites, and I now find myself waiting for Thursdays just to watch the latest episode.
Welcome to Flatch is a mockumentary sitcom directed by Paul Feig (The Office, Freaks and Geeks) and written and executive produced by Emmy Award-winner Jenny Bicks (Sex in the City, Men in Trees). It’s based on her British version of the show, The Country, and premiered on Fox in March 2022. By May, it was renewed for a second season, which kicked off September 29.
When a documentary crew sets out to explore the lives, dreams, and concerns of residents in a small American town, it stumbles upon the tiny Midwestern town of Flatch, Ohio, where they discover many eccentric personalities and find more than worthy subjects in cousins and best friends Kelly Mallet and Lloyd “Shrub” Mallet, who aren’t at all shy about letting the crew in on their lives and local events.
Each episode opens much like Letterkenny, with an introduction of the town and population: “Recent studies show that Americans long for a simpler life in small towns. To explore these communities, Fox sent a documentary crew to spend time with the citizens of Flatch, Ohio—population 1,526.”
Then, we are introduced to a whole slew of characters to laugh at …or with ... either way. For starters, Stifler from American Pie, also known as Seann William Scott, plays the town minister, who is nothing like Stifler at all. He’s calm, soft-spoken, sincere, naïve … kind of a pushover, if you will, and he’s the one who attempts to guide Kelly and Shrub, who seem to refuse to grow up. And that’s funny.
It’s one thing to watch Seann William Scott as Stifler or even as E.L. in Road Trip, but it’s entirely different and funnier to watch him as this humble, pushover minister of a small town. Father Joe, as he’s known, moved to Flatch with his former girlfriend, Cheryl, who is an award-winning journalist and the editor of the local newspaper ... and quite quirky.
Other Flatch residents include Kelly’s frenemy Nadine (Taylor Ortega, Succession), who runs the Flatch Historical Society; Mickey St. Jean (Justin Linville), who relentlessly attempts to become Shrub’s best friend; and no-nonsense favorite Mandy (Krystal Smith), a magnetic force of nature who lives life on her own terms.
In the pilot, she asserts with force, “We are an upstandin’ town and we deserve some damn attention. We got two restaurants—one with menus, and last year somebody gave birth to twins, so now we got young people all over the place.”
Then we meet Kelly and Shrub, who are a magnificent comedic duo to watch. Both are extremely talented, funny actors who play off of each other’s timing. Chelsea Holmes, often billed as just Holmes, is a hilariously talented American comedian, actor, and writer, and is also a stand-up comic and improvisational actor. She's definitely one to watch; I adore everything about her. Both she and Shrub are townies who spend their days hatching schemes.
And speaking of Shrub, played by the charming Sam Straley (The Kids are Alright, The Dropout), we learn from him and Kelly in the pilot just how he got his name.
“So, his real name is Lloyd,” says Kelly.
“Yeah, after my dad,” adds Shrub.
“Yeah, his dad drank a lot of Busch beer, so they started calling him Bush …” and then Shrub chimes in, “Yeah, so they started calling me Shrub for, like, a little bush,” and after a brief pause where Kelly looks at Shrub as he’s looking off in the distance, he adds, “But, like, he left when I was a baby.” They both nod their heads and say, “Yeah,” and then Kelly adds, “But he probably still drinks beer.”
Essentially, all Kelly and Shrub have are each other. Kelly’s father is around but has a new wife and baby daughter, so Kelly is virtually non-existent to him until he needs something. But Kelly doesn’t let this phase her trying efforts one bit. She defends him and tries to cozy up to him with no shame whatsoever. And the duo's interaction with the camera is priceless. Much like The Office … the looks, the expressions, the faces, the implications.
In an interview with Cincinnati Magazine, Straley talks about the characters he and co-star Holmes play.
“I’d say they’re kind of a classic duo, almost like husband and wife in a way. They’re partners for life, they’re best friends, and they want the best, but they also see what’s wrong in the other person and get so frustrated with each other sometimes, but we kind of always come together, because we’re each other’s support system.”
He continued, “They’re in their early 20s … sort of at the point in their lives where they should have things together, and everyone around them is getting married and they’re still, I think, clinging on to moments in their lives that brought them acceptance. And they’re really excited about this new documentary crew and having ‘the movie people’ around and feeling seen.”
When asked about his and Holmes’s individual characters, he added, “Shrub is, I’d say, more of the feminine to Kelly’s masculinity, which I think isn’t seen a lot on TV. Shrub is sort of the sensitive, artistic, detail-oriented control freak, and Kelly is the no-idea-is-a-bad-idea, throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks one. And I think their dynamic is very much that they love each other but fight a lot. They cover each other’s gray spots in all the right ways, and they are desperately, desperately trying to find connection and a place where they fit. They’re absolute underdogs, and they’re always looking out for each other.”
Underdogs, indeed. Each and every one of ‘em.
AND, Jaime Pressly (My Name is Earl) has joined season two as realtor and OG Flatch native, Barb Flatch. SHE is nothing short of hysterical and is the perfect addition to this little gem of a sitcom, which I hope has many more seasons to come.
So, I recommend adding some Flatch to your weekly musings. Yeah, there might be some cheesy jokes or moments that lag, but if you’re not wound too tight, you just might find yourself giggling at every little thing. Like we do at my house.
Welcome to Flatch, everybody!
Episodes drop Thursdays on Hulu and air the same night on Fox at 8 PM EST.