Signal Boost: Abby’s And Bless This Mess

by Rachel Bellwoar

Nothing like losing some of your favorite shows to make you feel extra protective of the shows still on the air (if you’re not aware, this is the time of year when a lot of TV shows learn whether they’ve been cancelled or renewed). Bless This Mess and Abby’s are two comedies that aired under the radar midseason. Abby’s has the designation of being the first TV show led by a Cuban-American actress, and likely the second sitcom to have a bisexual lead (after The Good Place’s Eleanor Shellstrop). It’s also, frankly, a much deserved star vehicle for Natalie Morales, who’s been begging for another starring role since the criminally short-lived Middleman went off the air (and if you’ve never heard of The Middleman, see if you can get your hands on a DVD – Shout! was the distributor so the packaging’s super sweet).

The concept behind Abby’s isn’t particularly complicated. Abby runs a bar in her backyard. She has a handful of regular customers (including The Middle’s Neil Flynn). In the first episode her new landlord (New Girl’s Nelson Franklin) threatens to shut the place down but he’s drinking there by the end of the episode. It’s not earth-shattering stuff but it’s pleasant and comfortable, like bar food at the end of the day, when you just want to sit down and unwind with some entertainment.

Bless This Mess is a show I did not think I would be watching past the first episode. If you’ve seen the trailer, it’s Lake Bell’s Rio running away from a cow and henceforth getting stuck on the roof with her husband, played by Dax Shepard (Without A Paddle). It’s funnier in context (and there aren’t that many sitcoms revolving around a happily married couple without kids), but I wouldn’t have given the show a shot if I wasn’t a fan of Bell’s and Shephard’s. Bell (In A World…) co-created the show with New Girl’s Liz Meriwether. These are funny people, but what the commercial fails to let you know is Pam Grier is on this show! She’s a series regular. So is Ed Begley Jr.! They have a stilted courtship going on. Lennon Parham (Playing House), David Koechner (The Office) and Jim O’Heir (Parks and Recreation) play some of the locals in this ensemble cast. Our main couple are from New York and moved to Minnesota to try their hands at farming, after Shepherd’s character inherits his aunt’s farm.

Here’s a clip that better represents what the show is like:

Bless This Mess airs Tuesdays at 9:30 PM EST on ABC and was just renewed for a second season.

Abby’s hasn’t been renewed yet but airs Thursdays at 9:30 PM EST on NBC.

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