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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.
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