'Thirtysomething' Sequel With Original Cast Gets ABC Pilot Pickup

Thirtysomething Controversial Episode: Strangers

Although no physical contact was shown between two gay male characters on in the episode "Strangers," a scene that depicted both actors laying in bed together after sex led advertisers to pull their commercials from the show. ABC went on to remove the episode from the show's rotation in response to the negative attention.

ABC is returning to the world of Thirtysomething.

The network has handed out a pilot order for a sequel — called Thirtysomething(else) — to its former late '80s/early '90s family drama, featuring many of the show's original cast. The pickup arrives more than three months after producers MGM Television first shopped the project to potential buyers.

From original series creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, the new take will focus on the children of the main characters from the initial series, who are now in their thirties themselves. The stars from the original series — Ken Olin, Mel Harris, Timothy Busfield and Patricia Wettig — will reprise their roles in the sequel. Herskovitz and Zwick will co-write the script and executive produce, with the latter set to direct the pilot. Thirtysomething(else) is a co-production between ABC Studios and MGM TV. 

The effort hails from MGM TV, which produced the original series. Thirtysomething, which  ran for four seasons on ABC, bowed in September 1987 and went on to become a pop culture sensation thanks in part to its focus on the day-to-day lives of baby boomers and its willingness to push the envelope of cultural stories. What's more, the family series earned an impressive 41 Emmy nominations during its run — winning 13 including for best drama in 1988 and acting honors for Wettig, Busfield and Melanie Mayron. The series marked its 30th anniversary in 2017.

ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour that a writers room is being opened for Thirtysomething(else), which is still a pilot but is already "gearing up for series."

Burke told reporters after the pickup announcement that "Ed and Marshall really have a vision for the narrative and anything's possible, really. ... They know those characters in their bones, and their children are thirtysomething themselves, not just the children on the show, so they are creating characters in that generation that they also know and can relate to. So it's really a true definition of a multigenerational [story]."

Plus, the exec added, "I think you'll find some surprises in the story that you didn't see coming."

Busfield, who followed Burke's TCA session with a panel for his new series, For Life, said he was "very, very happy," confirming that "we did make that deal today. I'm very excited, and we're all very excited."

Thirtysomething(else) is the second formal pilot order for ABC for the 2020-21 broadcast season, joining The Brides from the team behind Riverdale.

The Thirtysomething(else) pickup arrives as Burke makes a bid to bring women back to the Disney-owned broadcaster. The new take comes as ABC is bidding farewell to its Emmy-winning family comedy Modern Family after 11 seasons. The network is also in early development on a Fresh Off the Boat spinoff and has the Roseanne offshoot The Conners still going strong.