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Sitcoms can feel like a dime a dozen unless they have a truly unique angle to set them apart, and NBC's new comedy Abby's certainly has an angle. The show is set in a bar, but not just any bar. No, this is an outdoor bar and unlicensed gathering place for Abby's friends and customers. As you might expect, setting a show at an outdoor location comes with its share of challenges. Abby's leading lady Natalie Morales shared some of the unique challenges of filming and how Abby's overcame them:
Sirens being noisy. But a fun fact is we shot this on Tuesday nights, as opposed to many multi cams shoot on a Friday night because we shot on the Universal lot, and Halloween Horror Nights was going on, and you would have heard the screaming. So, yeah, we avoided that, which was nice.
The night to hit the bar on the Universal lot is apparently Tuesday, if you work at Abby's! Halloween Horror Nights is a frightfully fun event that hits Universal Studios every fall to scare the pants off visitors brave enough to explore the park during the spookiest time of year. Attractions can have a variety of themes, including The Walking Dead and Poltergeist. Stranger Things will be back this year, so perhaps sounds of the Demogorgon feeding would interfere just as much as the screams if Abby's began filming on the lot again this fall!
The bar on Abby's may be atypical and against the law in-universe, but that doesn't keep customers away. I imagine that shrieking neighbors might not be great for business, and it would probably require a lot of ADR to edit out the screams of Halloween Horror Nights attendees. Screaming could definitely ruin the mood for the live studio audience watching filming and ideally providing a live laugh track. Hey, what's wrong with spending Tuesdays at a bar anyway?
Given the challenges of shooting in a location that could be disrupted by scared throngs of tourists, the natural question is whether it might have been easier or more appealing to create the bar on a set and just film inside. Abby's creator and executive producer Josh Malmuth weighed in on why Abby's films outside despite the complications:
Yeah. I think, you know, we wanted to embrace some of those technical challenges, the shooting outside, because we wanted it to feel like it was outside, right? I mean, it wasn’t about going outside and then trying to light it in a way that it would feel like a stage. We wanted you to really be able to get a sense for this place and that it was outside. So I think we were able to embrace that, and I love how it looked.
The series premiere of Abby's finally hit the airwaves on March 28, and viewers got a look at the bar that required the cast and crew to film on Tuesdays on the Universal lot. I can vouch for the fact that there was no screaming in the background, but lots of laughter from the live audience. The big question now is whether the laughs will translate to audiences watching from home.
The Abby's cast is strong, and includes veteran sitcom star Neil Flynn, who revealed why he took the job not too long after The Middle ended. The behind-the-scenes team includes Mike Schur of Parks & Recreation and The Good Place fame as an executive producer in addition to Josh Malmuth, who brings experience on New Girl and Superstore to the table.