The family sitcom isn’t just one of ABC’s highest-rated returning sitcoms, it has something that’s proven especially elusive among Big Four comedies: cultural cachet. With three key Emmy nominations in 2016 and a recent Golden Globe Award for lead Tracee Ellis Ross, it heads into the next awards cycle with as much heat as ever — tackling hot-button issues of race and class with an all-star cast and an enviable creative team.
Creator Kenya Barris has cemented himself as one of the most prominent voices in TV. But his two pilots in contention at ABC — Felicity Huffman and Courtney Vance beltway comedy Libby & Malcolm and drama Unit Zero, with Toni Collette — have both been passed over. The studio is said to be shopping them elsewhere. And speaking of producers, original co-showrunner Jonathan Groff is leaving the series to focus on development. In his stead, Stacy Traub is joining the comedy as executive producer. She recently re-upped her overall deal with ABC Studios for another two years.
Black-ish is still largely dependent on its Wednesday lead-in from Modern Family for live tune-in, but time-shifting remains significant. Season-to-date, the ABC Studios’ single-camera comedy averages a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 7.6 million viewers. It’s all enough for the ABC Studios project to be mulling a potential spinoff around young actress Yara Shahidi.
Her character, who wraps the third season heading off to college, was originally considered for a new ABC vehicle — but since the backdoor pilot aired, it is now being considered for cable sister network Freeform.