REVIEW: Fox’s ‘Welcome to Flatch’

Cast of Welcome to Flatch on Fox
(Image credit: Michael Lavine/Fox)

Welcome to Flatch, a way offbeat single-cam comedy, follows two cousins and assorted oddball others in the humdrum town of Flatch, Ohio. A mockumentary, along the lines of The Office and Abbott Elementary, Welcome to Flatch sees a documentary crew turn up in rural Ohio to explore the lives of residents in a small American town. 

Things to do in Flatch range from not much to nothing. Cousins Kelly and Shrub Mallett, who look like they’re a few years out of high school, enjoy tormenting the town busdriver, who they knew, and disliked, in school. The pilot, directed by Paul Feig, depicts a scarecrow festival that is the big social event in the tiny town. Kelly is hoping to win the skillet tossing contest, while Shrub aims to build the best scarecrow in town. Shrub had vied to get a prime spot for his scarecrow, which he hoped would translate to votes, but ends up at the far end of the festival, where a pig roams about. 

The mononymous Holmes plays Kelly and Sam Straley portrays Shrub. 

Seann William Scott, best known as Stifler from the American Pie franchise, plays Father Joe, a minister who was in a “spiritual boy band” called A-Men back in the ‘90s. Aya Cash plays Cheryl, who Father Joe broke up with to focus on the church, and who is the editor of the Flatch Patriot newspaper. Taylor Ortega portrays Nadine, who runs the historical society and has long had a knack for one-upping Kelly. Krystal Smith is Big Mandy, who can alternate between sweet and fearsome within the same sentence.

The second episode sees hapless Kelly borrow Father Joe’s car to launch a “ride-sharing” service called Kuber, that is nothing more than a shoddy taxi wanna-be. Big Mandy is a repeat customer. So is Cheryl, trying to track down the town sign, which has gone missing in a prank involving rival burg Pockton. 

Inspired by the BBC series This Country, Welcome to Flatch has some top-shelf producers, including Feig and showrunner Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City). The series is so offbeat that it almost has no beat. Feig and Bicks take pains to construct characters the audience will root for, not just laugh at. Kelly longs for a relationship with her distant father, who has a baby with his new partner, and Shrub adores Beth, a cosmetology student who, like most everyone else in Flatch, is unsmiling and odd. 

We found Flatch more weird than funny, but this goofy collection of characters shows at least a hint of promise. 

While the show premieres on Fox March 17, the first seven episodes are available on Hulu, Fox Now and on demand that day. ■ 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.