While every episode is filmed on the road, highlighting the wonderful world of sausages right out your own front door, there are a few recurring locations and characters that ground the series and provide a “home base” for our cast and crew.
The Production Van
“Don’t-accept-candy-from-that-vehicle,” mode of transportation that crams in all the equipment, crew, and our beloved hosts and producer as they travel across the country. The van is a constant reminder to Tony that The Studio does not take him or his show seriously. For as long as American Wiener has been serving up fresh ratings, The Studio continues to poo-poo his request for an actual travel budget. This well-traveled hunk of metal is also a sore spot for Mel, who is often left to troubleshoot busted AC or left to contort her body to squeeze in the back bench seat. Richard consistently gets car sick and goes in and out of panic as he watches cars speed past on the “wrong side” of the road. The Production Van is also home to some of our more tender show moments. After particularly stressful shoots, Tony and Mel find comfort and companionship sipping on Pineapple Sodas on the back bumper. It may be a real piece of garbage, but it’s their piece of garbage. It’s home.
Back in the glamorous City of Angels, The (elusive) Studio is usually “seen” communicating on the phone with Mel. In a Charlie-Brown-esque, impossible for others to understand what they are saying, mumbled voice, The Studio pulls the puppet strings of American Wiener in a way that drives Tony absolutely nuts. From the mandated addition of Richard as a good-looking, British co-host, to the timeslot, to the bizarre and often impossible to pull off episode requests… The Studio is the man behind the curtain.
Tony makes his living cramming pork and beef sausages down his throat and chasing it down with cold cola. He is not the epitome of health. Throughout the series, his health plays an important role in his character arc and the relationship with the rest of the crew. It is often an opportunity for Mel to show her nurturing side (did he take his medicine? How many steps has he gotten today?). It all comes to a head in the season one finale when, literally inches away from his meeting with The Studio, Tony has a heart attack on the front steps of the building. This informs future seasons and Tony’s own relationship with hot dogs.
The Mandela Effect
American Wiener exists in a universe one wormhole away. So much of the world is recognizable - from landmarks to historical events - and yet there is something off. This is almost exclusively captured by Camera 1 who recognizes famous faces and zooms in on things familiar to the audience’s universe. The Mandela Effect is most noticeable when celebrities show up taking out trash, or chopping onions in a commercial kitchen, or servicing that dang broken down production van. Why aren’t they filming movies or sitting back on expensive beaches? They don’t know what you’re talking about.
Grand Island, Nebraska
For years Tony complained to The Studio about not having a proper landing spot for the show. A space with internet and whiteboards to serve as "home base" for the American Wiener team in between shoots to plan out future episodes. Tony pictured a high rise office in New York or Los Angeles, rubbing elbows with network executives and hobnobbing it with fellow celebrities. After nearly ten years of pestering, The Studio relented and gave Tony an office... in a strip mall in Grand Island, Nebraska. Just thirty miles north of the exact center of the United States, The Studio argued that it would be the perfect rest stop in between the long drives in the production van across the country. Not to mention rent is cheap, the city's mayor is a big fan, and there's an "in" with the local morning show, Good Morning You for as much press as the show desires.