Mike Schur is the best sitcom showrunner of our era, and maybe the best since Norman Lear dominated the television landscape in the ’70s with shows like All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son and Good Times. After seven years on SNL, Schur moved to The Office before creating Parks and Recreation. After the seven-year success of Parks and the critical success of his Brooklyn Nine-Nine, NBC essentially gave Mike Schur a blank check in 2015 and told him he could make whatever show he wanted to make. He chose to make a show that combined philosophy and fart jokes.
“There are two things that made The Good Place happen,” Mike Schur said on The Good Place podcast last year. “The network said — foolishly — to me that you can do whatever you want … they basically said we’re going to put 13 episodes on air, and you can do whatever you want.” Schur, in turn, felt a responsibility to “do something good” and to “do something weird and different.” That’s how The Good Place was born.
Mike Schur’s next show will continue his trend of doing something “weird and different,” but he will return to Earth with his forthcoming series, which is not exactly a “workplace comedy,” but it does take place at someone’s workplace. Abby’s, which will premiere on NBC on March 28, is set in a bar, not unlike Cheers, which starred the Good Place‘s Ted Danson. This bar, however, is set in Abby’s backyard, and this bar has rules. “No cell phones (not even to ‘look something up’), earning a seat at the bar takes time and losing a challenge means drinking a limey, sugary ‘not-beer’ drink. As the oddball cast of regulars will tell you, hanging out at Abby’s is a coveted honor. But once you’re in, you’re family.”
As he has in the past, Schur is taking someone with whom he has worked in the past — here, Natalie Morales (who played Tom Haverford’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Lucy in Parks and Recreation) — and building a cast around her make up of actors new to the Schurniverse. It will star Neil Flynn (Scrubs, The Middle), Nelson Franklin (Veep, New Girl, I’m Sorry) and Jessica Chaffin (also Veep, New Girl, I’m Sorry) as regular bar patrons, as well as stand-up comedian Leonard Ouzts and newcomer Kimia Behpoornia. As it is a bar, I suspect Schur regulars like Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, and Jim O’Heir will also make occasional appearances at Abby’s, as well. The bar setting also makes perfect sense for Schur, whose comedies always seem to generate the best episodes when the characters are in heightened states, either sick, drunk, or high.
Beyond that, Mike Schur is also producing another show, an untitled workplace comedy written by and starring Kal Penn, who will play a former New York city councilman who will find a job helping six recent immigrants try to achieve the American dream.
Abby’s premieres on NBC on March 28th. If history is any indication, it will run for at least six seasons with modest ratings and then kill on Netflix.