Four Questions With…Josh Malmuth, Creator of New NBC Sitcom Set in South Park
“Abby’s” introduces viewers to an illegal bar in a South Park backyard—and the very San Diego characters who frequent it.
Josh Malmuth on the set of Abby's | Photo courtesy of NBC
Abby’s, a new NBC sitcom set in a makeshift bar in South Park aired its first episode on March 29. Wouldn’t you know it, the show’s creator, Josh Malmuth, a veteran of comedy hit New Girl, is a son of San Diego, now living in L.A. The setting—an unlicensed bar in a suburban backyard—is more “Cheers” than “Baywatch.”
“I didn’t want it to feel surf- or beach-centric,” says the Carmel Valley native. “I wanted it to be a different side of San Diego maybe people hadn’t seen before,” We caught up with Malmuth to find out more.
Why choose South Park for the setting?
I just love it there. Writing for TV, it’s more practical to live in L.A., so maybe it’s a way to keep one foot in San Diego. There’s a really interesting mix of people down there. You’ve got the strong military influence, and also the younger generations who are doing really interesting things in food and beer. South Park is really multi-generational and diverse, I knew it would be a good setting for a show of people hanging out at the bar. I wanted to create this place where an audience could come and hang out and have a good time—San Diego has that feel built in.
What are some very San Diego aspects of the show?
Abby, the main character, was a marine. That’s how she ended up in San Diego to begin with. Her stalwart regular is a guy named Fred who worked doing commercial fishing and deep sea fishing charters with tourists. Another character is an engineer who works at Qualcomm. I wanted it to feel relatable to people who aren’t in San Diego also, so I tried to balance a specific sense of place with things everyone has in common.
Are any other San Diegans involved?
A couple of people on the crew are from San Diego, and another one of the writers, Russ Finkelstein (Malmuth’s fellow graduate of Torrey Pines High School). Russ used to a do a lot fishing and spearfishing, so he was my go-to person for that stuff.
You’ve already turned heads with how you chose to shoot this show.
We shot it outside, with an outdoor audience, which has never been done before. Part of the experience was dealing with planes, and a few skunks walked through the set when we were shooting.