One of the keys to a good show is believability, and in that respect, Sullivan & Son is an excellent one. It’s also very good in the more traditional “haha” sense, too. The TBS sitcom, which returns for season two on June 13th, follows Steve (played by creator Steve Byrne), a former attorney who returns home to Pittsburgh to take over his dad’s business, running the local bar. Naturally, because it’s Pittsburgh and what else is there to do in Pittsburgh, a group of regulars hang out at the pub, including childhood friends Owen and Ahmed and Steve’s gorgeous love interest Valerie.
Last month, much of the Vince Vaughn-produced Sullivan & Son cast got together for a Hangover Brunch at New York’s famed Gotham Comedy Club, and while pictures of Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chappelle looked over us, eggs and bacon were had while stories of blurry nights gone by were discussed. It felt like a scene straight out of the show (just replace Seinfeld with a large shamrock), and the cast, like guys and girls you’ve spoken to at 2 a.m. a million times before.
They circled the six or so tables in the room, round robin-style, with each comedian stopping for about 10 minutes to chat about Sullivan, their career, and in Roy Wood, Jr.’s case, what he’s drinking on the show. While most of the cast favors non-alcoholic O’Doul’s while shooting, otherwise they’d be inebriated in about three minutes, Wood asks for cream soda. Thing is, every time the director calls for a new take, his mug has to be refilled (damn continuity), and he’d have to drink over and over again. By the end of one shoot, he guessed he had downed two bottles of carbonated sugar water. No man has ever had to pee as badly as he did that day.
Meanwhile, Byrne, wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins jacket, and Azlynn were most interested in trying to contact with the show’s rabid fanbase, so expect a lot of live tweeting during episodes this season, while Egyptian-born Ahmed, the director of Just Like Us, a documentary about American comedians performing in the Middle East, gushed about being on a show as diverse as Sullivan (Byrne’s character is half-Irish, half-Korean) and not having to play Terrorist #2 anymore. (Unfortunately Vaughn, nor co-producer Peter Billingsley or star Brian Doyle-Murray could attend the brunch, but the entire cast sang their praises, with Vaughn singled out as a major presence on the shape and feel of the show. Plus, apparently, even in his pre-Swingers days, he had a comfy couch to crash on, at least according to Ahmed.)
If you’re picking up a slight Cheers vibe — a bunch of guys and girls in a working-class town, spending their days in a bar — you wouldn’t be wrong; Sullivan is produced by Rob Long, who also worked on, you guessed it, Cheers. The key similarity between the shows: the titular venues are rarely painted in a negative light; unlike Paddy’s Pub on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a den of dead-end misery, Sullivan & Son symbolizes place where everybody knows your name, your life story, your favorite drink. And after spending some time with the cast, suddenly spending every day at a bar…in Pittsburgh…doesn’t sound so bad.
(This post has been sponsored by TBS’s Sullivan & Son.)