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The network has renewed the comedy for a sixth season and handed out an early series order to the prequel spinoff Mixed-ish. The latter is set in the 1980s and revolves around a young version of Tracee Ellis Ross’ Rainbow Johnson (played by Arica Himmell). The comedy, which was developed under the radar, had quietly been building buzz and had been considered a frontrunner to go to series.
Mixed-ish was poised to air May 7 as a planted episode of Black-ish. That episode will now be held for next season. (Bless This Mess will air in its 9 p.m. slot the same night.) Mixed-ish revolves around young Bow as she recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ’80s and the dilemmas they faced over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves when her parents move from a hippie commune to the suburbs. Tika Sumpter, Christina Anthony, Mykal-Michelle Harris and Ethan Childress round out the cast. Mixed-ish, directed by Anton Cropper (L.A.’s Finest), becomes the third show in the Black-ish franchise and joins the spinoff Grown-ish at ABC’s younger-skewing cable network Freeform. The role played by Anders Holm, who was set to star in the backdoor pilot, will be recast as producers opted to move in a different direction.
Black-ish executive producer Peter Saji and creator Kenya Barris co-created the series and wrote the script for the comedy. Both exec produce alongside Ross, Randall Winston, Artists First’s Brian Dobbins, Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland’s Cinema Gypsy and Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. The single-camera comedy, like the flagship, hails from ABC Studios. The spinoff arrives after Barris negotiated an early exit from his overall deal with ABC Studios for a lucrative pact with Netflix. He still remains involved as an exec producer in the franchise.
ABC, like other networks and streamers, is increasingly looking to spinoffs and other proven intellectual property as a way to cut through a scripted landscape featuring nearly 500 originals. (Spinoffs and reboots are cheaper to market and come with a built-in audience.) ABC’s scripted roster currently includes Grey’s Anatomy and its spinoff Station 19, and The Goldbergs and its offshoot Schooled, while other broadcasters with franchises include NBC’s Chicago and Law & Order series, The CW’s Arrow-verse and CBS’ NCIS and The Big Bang Theory.
Mixed-ish comes as ABC is currently in negotiations with producers Sony Pictures TV for a renewal for its other 1980s-set comedy, The Goldbergs. (Its spinoff, Schooled, is set in the ’90s, as is CBS’ Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon).
Black-ish, meanwhile, heads into its sixth season as ABC’s comedy heir apparent as Modern Family is coming to an end. The family comedy starring fan favorite Ross and Anderson counts a lucrative off-net syndication deal and an exclusive SVOD streaming deal with Hulu. The series transitioned to showrunners Kenny Smith and Jonathan Groff this season after Barris decamped for Netflix. What’s more, co-showrunner Smith inked a three-year overall deal with ABC Studios, helping to solidify Black–ish‘s long-term future.
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