‘Stan Against Evil’: John C. McGinley Has Ghoul Trouble in IFC’s New Comedy-Horror Hybrid

Stan Against Evil Season 1
Kim Simms/IFC
Stan Against Evil (IFC): John C. McGinley, Photo Credit: Kim Simms/IFC

What if Archie Bunker was a demon slayer? IFC’s new comedy-horror series, Stan Against Evil stars Scrubs vet John C. McGinley as newly retired New England sheriff Stan Miller, a bigoted widower with a big fat problem on his hands: His quaint little community is under attack by the fiendish spirits of 172 locals who were burned at the stake as witches by the town constable back in the 1600s. Now these vengeful spirits want Stan and his curvy replacement, Evie Barret (Janet Varney), to pay for that outrage with their lives. McGinley breaks it down.

Your Dr. Perry Cox on Scrubs was one of TV’s great comic inventions. How does Sheriff Stan stack up?
I couldn’t say no to this character. [Series creator] Dana Gould, who had massive success at The Simpsons, came to my house and said, “This show is all I’ve ever really wanted to write.” I’m no fool. I wanted to be in that game. I’m like, “Put me in, coach!”

Stan is a card-carrying misogynist. He swears Starsky and Hutch were gay. He thinks Millennials get way too much praise and that kids need to know they suck. So why is he so lovable?
In one 24-hour period, Stan loses his wife of 30 years and is forced to leave a job he’s had for 28 years. Yeah, he’s an Archie Bunker–type equal-opportunity offender, but the only way we can forgive him—much less find him funny—is to acknowledge how damaged and vulnerable the guy is. Otherwise, he’s just a jackass.

Who happens to be pretty damn good at battling monsters.
He is! But before this demon invasion he was probably issuing jaywalking tickets. I doubt he’s ever even fired his weapon until now. Actors always try to give their characters an über-objective—you know, that one big driving purpose. Getting the bad guy! Saving the world! Whatever. Well, Stan’s über-objective is much more sedentary. All he really wants to do is get back home to his easy chair. His motivation ain’t that deep. [Laughs] Of course, if I told that to my old acting teachers, they’d die.

Stan Against Evil (IFC), John C. McGinley, Mick Ignis, Photo Credit Kim Simms/IFC

Smells like evil spirit

Stan also seems to be quite the pop-culture enthusiast—1960s pop, that is. Any concern that some of his references—like, “We’re under siege…like Michael Caine in Zulu!”—might go over some of those Millennial heads?
No concern at all. [Laughs] Back on Scrubs, we used to call lines like that “five percenters,” meaning 95 percent of the audience won’t have a clue what the hell you’re talking about. But you gotta throw ‘em into the script now and then. If you don’t, you have no spine.

Speaking of spine, are there any ground rules when you star on a show that’s so politically incorrect?
Oh, absolutely. Here’s my big ground rule: Do not pick on people who cannot defend themselves. Otherwise, it’s open season. If you can return serve, let’s go!

Stan Against Evil, Sneak preview, Monday, Oct. 31, 10/9c, IFC; Series premiere, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 10/9c