Another Network Comedy Sticks It To Flyover Country

Welcome to Flatch, world capital of boredom, underachievement and disappointment.

Flatch is a fictional small town in middle America that comes in for scrutiny by judgmental Californians in the new one-camera sitcom “Welcome to Flatch,” premiering Thursday on Fox.

This attitude crops up sometimes when Hollywood takes on the subject of small-town America and mines it for satire.

In the best of these, the comedy -- i.e., the making fun of these communities and the lifestyles of their residents -- is counterbalanced by affection.

The late, great “Parks and Recreation” was an outstanding example of this. It was about a fictional town -- Pawnee, Indiana -- whose residents were presented as eccentric (as townspeople always are in these shows), but also well-meaning. They and their town were depicted affectionately.



Another sitcom literally named for middle America -- “The Middle” -- was a show that was neither condescending nor patronizing to the community it depicted. That show was a gem. 

But if the premiere episode of “Welcome to Flatch” is any indication, this new small-town comedy struggles with the affection part of this balancing act.

“Welcome to Flatch” is styled as a documentary -- a motif used previously in some of our most successful TV comedies. In this context, “The Office” and “Modern Family” come immediately to mind.

Producer and director Paul Feig, who directed as least 15 episodes of “The Office” (and also the movie “Bridesmaids”), directs some of the episodes here as well. He is also credited as an executive producer.

Producer/writer Jenny Bicks, best known as an executive producer and writer on “Sex and the City,” is also executive producer.

“Welcome to Flatch” is described at the outset of Episode One as some sort of anthropological investigation.

“Recent studies show that Americans long for a simpler life in small towns,” say some words shown on screen as the show begins.

“To explore these communities Fox sent a documentary crew to spend time with the citizens of Flatch, Ohio.” It then tells us the population of Flatch: 1,526 people.

The name conceived for this fictional town might have a comedic purpose, since its pronunciation suggests that it is the first syllable of “flatulence.” Your TV blogger, who self-identifies as immature, thinks this is hilarious.

As the first episode proceeds, we meet the handful of Flatch citizens who will evidently be this show’s main, recurring characters.

These include a minister newly relocated from Minneapolis, his estranged wife who has become the editor of Flatch’s tiny newspaper, an outspoken and volatile neighborhood resident named Mandy, a woman named Nadine who is the custodian of the town’s history, and two young-adult cousins named Kelly and Lloyd Mallet.

These two emerge as the show’s most conspicuous characters, since the documenting of Flatch relies mainly on their points of view.

These cousins are self-described best friends, unemployed, aimless and delusional about their prospects -- which, according to the show, are hopeless.

Moreover, Kelly is estranged from her irresponsible father, whom she encounters in the town from time to time, after which she is an emotional wreck. These scenes are so sad that they really have no business being in a comedy.

Among the stereotypical assumptions that this show’s writers and producers apparently harbor about small towns is that they all create idiotic, self-styled holidays for which they then throw annual festivals.

In the premiere of “Welcome to Flatch,” the townspeople are seen busily creating unique scarecrows (pictured above) for an annual scarecrow contest that captivates the whole town.

In addition, there is also great excitement and anticipation around another annual event held at the same festival, the yearly “Skillet Toss,” in which first prize goes to the person who throws a cast-iron frying pan the farthest.

So much is going on in Episode One of “Welcome to Flatch” that it begs a question: With so much town life crammed into the premiere, what on Earth will they come up with for Episode Two?

“Welcome to Flatch” premieres Thursday (March 17) at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox.

1 comment about "Another Network Comedy Sticks It To Flyover Country".
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  1. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, March 14, 2022 at 1:08 p.m.

    "Your TV blogger, who self-identifies as immature, thinks this is hilarious." Bravo, Adam! (I make the same self-identification.)

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