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All four of ABC’s remaining bubble shows have been canceled as ABC has also passed on four of its remaining pilots.
New ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich has opted to cancel veteran comedy American Housewife (after five seasons), Black-ish’s sophomore spinoff Mixed-ish, freshman drama Rebel and second-year drama For Life. They join Kyra Sedgwick multicam Call Your Mother as scripted originals that will not return to the Disney-backed broadcaster in the 2021-22 season.
On the pilot side, after handing out series orders to The Wonder Years, Queens, Abbott Elementary and Maggie, ABC has passed on Sam Esmail drama Acts of Crime and comedies Adopted (a holdover from 2020), Regina Hicks’ Black Don’t Crack and blue-collar half-hour Bucktown. Still remaining in contention are Dark Horse, Disney-themed Epic, Kevin Costner’s National Parks Investigation, Promised Land and Triage as ABC is expected to give more time to late-season pilot orders for a potential midseason green light. Of the passes, Acts of Crime is perhaps the more surprising. The unique spin on a crime procedural from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail was picked up by Erwich’s predecessor, Karey Burke, and was part of her push to bring more cable- and streaming-focused creators back to broadcast.
The news comes hours after Erwich and ABC renewed Black-ish (for its eighth and final season), The Conners, The Goldbergs, The Rookie and Home Economics for the forthcoming broadcast season. They join the previously renewed The Good Doctor, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and Big Sky on the network’s schedule.
Of the four cancellations, it’s notable that ABC fully owned Mixed-ish and American Housewife, with For Life as well as Rebel from Sony TV. (The indie studio also saw the ax fall Friday on Call Your Mother, though it continues to have The Good Doctor and The Goldbergs on ABC’s schedule.)
The biggest surprise among Friday’s cancellations is the decision to ax Rebel, the Erin Brockovich-inspired drama that hailed from the network’s most important producer, Krista Vernoff. The Katey Sagal starrer was Vernoff’s first script to get a series pickup after 13 attempts, with the Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 showrunner currently controlling ABC’s entire Thursday primetime lineup. Sources note the decision was a difficult one and was based on the show’s lackluster linear and digital ratings performance. Vernoff recently inked a rich new overall deal with Disney’s ABC Signature, for whom she’ll continue to develop and oversee both Grey’s and Station 19.
American Housewife, meanwhile, experienced a shake-up behind the scenes after co-star Carly Hughes departed, citing allegations of a toxic workplace and discrimination. Co-star Ali Wong also recently booked the lead role on an Amazon series and was poised to exit had the show been renewed.
Black-ish spinoff Mixed-ish was among ABC’s least-watched originals. Creator Kenya Barris still has the final season of the flagship and its Freeform spinoff at Disney, with another spinoff, Old-ish, in development at ABC.
Kyra Sedgwick vehicle Call Your Mother was one of few new series to launch this season and bypassed the pilot stage after production was derailed by the pandemic. Rounding out the cancellations, For Life was a former favorite of Burke (who greenlit the show) but the show about racial inequality in the justice system was never able to catch on with viewers.
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