The younger-skewing Disney-owned network has handed out a 13-episode series order to College-ish, the offshoot starring Yara Shahidi and Deon Cole. The single-camera comedy will premiere in early 2018. Shahidi’s exit from Black-ish will be addressed next season on the flagship series. Cole will continue to float in and out of both shows.
“I never thought they’d let me put Black-ish on the air let alone give me a spinoff. I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to continue working with Yara and the rest of this talented young cast,” Black-ish creator Kenya Barris said Friday in a statement. “To any aspiring writers struggling to make it out there, I highly advise adding an ‘–ish‘ to any working title you might have. It seems to be the move.”
College-ish follows the Johnsons‘ eldest daughter, Zoey (Shahidi), as she heads to college and discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest. The series is described as a contemporary take on the current issues facing students and administrators in the world of higher education. Cole reprises his role as Charlie, who moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor. The series will be populated with currently uncast new characters on the administration and student body side who Freefom says will “reflect the complex and hilarious points of views that populate college campuses.”
Barris executive produces alongside Black-ish stars Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland and Brian Dobbins. The comedy hails from ABC Studios, with the backdoor pilot that aired this season on Black-ish being written by Barris and Larry Wilmore.
“Our goal at Freeform is to celebrate the power, possibility and inclusivity of youth culture through our shows,” said Freeform exec vp programming and development Karey Burke. “Kenya Barris blazes new trails in the funniest way possible with College-ish and we can’t wait to get schooled by the incredibly talented Yara Shahidi, who is the perfect addition to our Freeform family.”
College-ish was originally developed for ABC. Sources note that the pilot skewed too young to join the flagship series on the broadcast network. Freeform, which has been ramping up originals and looking for noisy fare as flagship drama Pretty Little Liars prepares to sign off, swooped in.
In an era of fragmented viewership and more than 450 original scripted series, spinoffs and reboots have become more common as broadcasters, cable networks and streaming services look for proven intellectual property in an attempt to break through the clutter. This week at the broadcast networks’ upfront presentation to ad buyers, CBS peddled a Big Bang Theory offshoot and ABC announced a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy. (For its part, ABC also passed on a 1990s-set spinoff of The Goldbergs.)
For Freeform, College-ish joins a roster of comedies including Young and Hungry as well as the forthcoming Alone Together and Marvel’s New Warriors. Meanwhile, veteran Baby Daddy will end its six-season run on Monday with its 100th episode. Sources note that Freeform had unofficially picked up the Dan Berendsen-created multicamera comedy for additional episodes to extend its sixth season but reversed course when College-ish became a possibility.