There have been a few signs of trouble between black-ish creator (and Girls Trip writer) Kenya Barris and ABC studios for awhile. Last month, the networked pulled an episode where black-ish star Anthony Anderson‘s Dre addresses current political issues with his son. At the time it was reported as a mutual decision, but sources tell THR that that wasn’t the case. Though Barris signed an overall deal with ABC in 2017 for four years, he’s also now looking to get out of it. Could he be headed to Netflix along with Shonda Rimes (also formerly with ABC) and Ryan Murphy (who was partnered with FX?)
As THR also notes, the recent black-ish episode aside, there have been other frustrations between Barris and ABC. Since he signed with the network in 2015, Barris has only had one other series picked up in addition to black-ish (now in its fourth season, and likely to be renewed for a fifth), the spinoff grown-ish, which was developed for ABC but ended up going to the younger-skewing Freeform (where it was just renewed for Season 2). The network passed on the politically-theme comedy Libby and Malcolm, starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance, as well as a drama pilot for a CIA drama called Unit Zero (starring Toni Collette). Another comedy Barris wrote was given a straight-to-series order, but its star Alec Baldwin dropped out over script issues, and without a replacement being named, the project has been all but officially dropped. However, Bright Futures, a comedy Barris produced, did get a pilot order — from NBC.
Unconnected or not, it’s also worth mentioning that Roseanne, ABC’s revival mega-hit, took shots at black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat (both ABC comedies) in its latest episode, with Roseanne Connor dismissing them — though not by name — as shows about black and Asian families that prove “they’re just like us.” It was a weird line for ABC to stand behind, and given Roseanne‘s success, it could potentially signal a change for the kinds of series the network is looking to produce from here on out.