2:02pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Kenya Barris' Freeform Comedy Series 'Unrelated' Effectively Dead
Freeform's Kenya Barris comedy Unrelated is effectively dead at the Disney-owned cable network.
The straight-to-series project (formerly called Besties) is no longer going forward in its current form. Instead, the script will be redeveloped.
Unrelated — picked up to series in May 2018 — revolved around Jesi (Gigi Zumbado) and Becca (Jordin Sparks), who go from strangers to sisters when they find out through a genetic testing company that they share the same birth mother. It was described as a contemporary ensemble comedy about identity and self-discovery. Sparks, Matt Shively, Kris D. Lofton, Zumbado, Jessika Van and Davi Santos starred.
In addition to a title change, the Barris project also brought in a new showrunner — Aeysha Carr (The Carmichael Show) — who replaced original showrunners Casey Johnson and David Windsor (The Real O'Neals). The latter duo co-created the series alongside Barris. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter in April that Barris was behind the switch, as he was unhappy with the show's early creative direction. Barris, who co-created the series alongside Ranada Shepard, stepped down as writer on the ABC Signature-produced project after he left the studio for a lucrative overall deal with Netflix. As he has with ABC's Black-ish and its Freeform spinoff, Grown-ish, Barris remained deeply involved on Unrelated as an executive producer. Sources say the decision to make the showrunner change was amicable. Johnson and Windsor continue to have an overall deal with ABC Studios.
The decision to redevelop the series arrives three months after Lauren Corrao was tapped to replace Karey Burke as head of originals at Freeform. The Comedy Central alum has been busy reviewing Freeform's slate and ultimately made the decision to redevelop the property.
Barris, meanwhile, has Black-ish, Grown-ish and ABC's rookie comedy Mixed-ish in the works for Disney. He also created and will star alongside Rashida Jones in his first Netflix series, the scripted comedy Black Excellence. That series is the first to stem from Barris' overall deal with the streamer.
Deadline was first to report the news.