'Abby's,' 2nd network sitcom with a bisexual lead, premieres

"Our sexuality is just one of the many things about all of us,” said Natalie Morales, who plays the lead character. “It’s not always the centerpiece of our conversations."
Image: Abby's
"Abby's," a show about a Cuban-American woman who runs a makeshift bar in her own backyard, stars Natalie Morales, who is also Cuban-American and identifies as queer.Ron Batzdorff / NBC
By Gwen Aviles

Viewers who were excited when William Jackson Harper, who plays Chidi on “The Good Place,” revealed that Eleanor Shellstrop, another character in the series, is “super bisexual,” may be happy to learn that the second sitcom featuring a bisexual lead premieres on television Thursday night.

“Abby’s,” about a Cuban-American woman who runs a makeshift bar in her San Diego backyard, stars Natalie Morales, a Cuban-American who identifies as queer.

Morales, a veteran film and TV actress whose credits include “Battle of the Sexes” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” said a great thing about the show is that Abby's bisexuality is not a focus, but just one of her many character traits.

"Our sexuality is just one of the many things about all of us,” Morales told NBC News. “It’s not always the centerpiece of our conversations."

But, she said, having a bisexual lead is important: "The more we reflect the people and life around us, the better it is as far as connecting people and healing a divide.”

The series starts with Abby on a roll.

She doesn't have to commute to work; she’s making money; and the bar has become the neighborhood spot: a place where all her friends and the local lovable lunatics gather for beers and camaraderie.

Sure, the bar doesn’t have a fire safety plan or insurance, but Abby believes its laid-back vibe is part of its charm.

Yet, she’s in for a rude awakening when her new landlord, Bill (Nelson Franklin), arrives and tries to inflict a strict set of rules on her establishment.

Abby's is the neighborhood spot: a place where all her friends and the local lovable lunatics gather for beers and camaraderie.Ron Batzdorff / NBC

The series regulars also include Fred (Neil Flynn), a fixture at the bar who’s not about to allow Bill to mess with his refuge; Beth, (Jessica Chaffin) a stressed mother who has laid claim to a bar stool that gives her a view of her house next door and allows her to keep an eye on her children; Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia), an employee intent on being the perfect bar manager; and James (Leonard Ouzts), a bouncer who doesn’t like confrontation.

Filming “Abby’s,” the first multicamera comedy to be shot completely outside in front of a live studio audience, was a challenging and exciting experience for Morales and the rest of the cast.

“It was really different and kind of wild, and the audience felt that way too. It was kind of like we were all in this weird thing together,” Morales told NBC News. “There was definitely some interruptions with sound, but overall it was a really great experience.”

“Abby’s” premieres Thursday night on NBC after “Will and Grace” at 9:30 ET/8:30 CT — a time slot Morales doesn’t take lightly.

“The fact that we’re on after ‘Will and Grace’ is a huge deal," she said. "‘Will and Grace’ pushed the bar so much forward as far as representation and normalization of gay and queer people in America and in the world.”

“If you didn’t know a gay person, suddenly there was one in your house every Thursday and they were making you laugh and you were seeing their problems and their life and what their friends were like," she said. "It just made it a normal and accepted thing.”

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