Welcome to Flatch, a single-cam mockumentary set in a fictional Ohio town without much going on, debuts on Fox March 17. Jenny Bicks writes and executive produces, and Paul Feig directs and executive produces.
Feig, from a Detroit suburb, said he was eager to showcase a place viewers don’t normally get to see. “I really like to try to show the places and the people that don't normally get shown in movies and TV,” he said in a TCA session. “And so that's why this show is so exciting to me, because we get to do it in such a fun way and such a loving way, but really get to explore some really fun characters.”
Welcome to Flatch is inspired by BBC Studios series This Country. Fox calls it a “docu-com.” The cast includes Holmes, Sam Straley, Seann William Scott–yes, Stifler from American Pie–and Aya Cash.
Straley, who plays Shrub, grew up in Cincinnati. “If you drive 15 minutes outside you'll find yourself in a Flatch, most likely,” he said. “Every time I've gone through a Flatch, I'm always really interested and excited about it. I'm never feeling stuck at all. I think there's a real beauty in small towns that our series explores in a really nice way.”
Holmes–that’s the name she goes by–plays Shrub’s cousin Kelly. In Flatch-like towns, she said “you get creative with how you learn to have fun in general.” In the show, “there's really nothing that they wouldn't do to try to have fun or, like, make their own adventure.”
Bicks, a veteran of Sex and the City, said small-town people learn to live with each other. “It's easy to be in a big city where you can avoid people,” she said. “In a small town you're up against people that you may not love…That's something we both felt we really wanted to capture, the essence of community. And in the end, you've got to take care of each other.”
Casting the show, Bicks said, was a different process from other shows she’s worked on. “These actors that we have are all so unique and so specific,” she said. “When we set out to do the show, we both said to each other, ‘If we can't find the right people to play these parts, we can't do this show.’ Because there aren't 50 people who can play these parts. There's one or two.”
While the series premiere is on Fox March 17, the first seven episodes were released on Hulu, Fox Now and On Demand at 12:01 a.m. that day. Users are free to binge Flatch.
Bicks said Welcome to Flatch offers a fair bit of empathy. “That's something I think we're all sorely missing right now,” she said. ■
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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.