3:15pm PT by Michael O'Connell
ABC Renews 'American Crime,' 'The Real O'Neals' and 'Dr. Ken'
As ABC makes trims and additions in anticipation of its May upfronts presentation, the network has handed out a renewal for a third go-around of John Ridley anthology American Crime, a refill for Friday fare Dr. Ken and a somewhat surprising second season for freshman comedy The Real O'Neals.
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed series on broadcast this past season, American Crime was a favorite of former ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee — who renewed the anthology for a second run, despite its incredibly modest ratings. (That pickup was followed by a supporting Emmy win for actress Regina King.) The second season didn't fare much better in the numbers, grossing a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 6 million viewers with DVR — but it did impress critics.
That's one reason why the network is naturally keen to stay in business with its auteur-showrunner, Ridley, a relationship that does not hinge on a future for American Crime. The Oscar-winning writer-director recently extended his deal with ABC Studios for an additional three years and also had pilot Presence in contention for a 2016-17 pickup with American Crime star Felicity Huffman attached. (Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Presence was passed over).
Another family comedy in ABC's growing roster of single-cam sitcoms, The Real O'Neals brought a decent sampling when it bowed on the Wednesday block — but quickly saw its audience diminish with a Tuesday move. Yes, it did (much) better than The Muppets in the tricky 8:30 p.m. slot, but it consistently performed lower than lead-in Fresh Off the Boat — with an average live-plus-7 score of 1.6 among adults 18-49 and 5.3 million viewers.
And while ABC could clearly have a more formidable partner to Tuesday anchor Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O'Neals decent reviews and status as a Disney-owned production certainly didn't hurt it. It now stands as only the second first-year show to get a renewal at ABC, following Quantico.
The renewal doesn't bode well for the slew of family comedy pilots in contention at the network. ABC ordered quite a few in the genre this pilot season, but The Real O'Neals brings the network's current family sitcom count to six. It joins Modern Family, The Goldbergs, The Middle, Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat on the 2016-17 schedule.
As for Ken Jeong's semi-autobiographical comedy, it have been poorly received by critics but the scathing reviews didn't seem to faze viewers. The half-hour multicam, which airs Fridays after Last Man Standing, is ABC's highest-rated sitcom in the slot in years, nabbing a 1.6 rating in the key demo and keeping most of the viewers from its lead-in. The ABC Studios/Sony Pictures Television co-production has also played a significant role in the network's diversity push, alongside Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish.