ABC has handed out an eighth and final season renewal for its award-winning comedy starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson. Barris announced the news in a heartfelt post on social media Friday.
The Disney-owned broadcaster had initially planned a 15-episode run for Black-ish‘s current seventh season after leaving the series off of its fall lineup, but the cast and creative team lobbied for its return, and it secured a six-episode pickup.
The series is a top 10 comedy and an awards season favorite, having also garnered multiple Emmy nominations as well as a prestigious Peabody. What’s more, the single-camera comedy about an upper-class Black family has also become a valuable franchise for Disney with a third possible spinoff, Old-ish, in development and written by Barris. Grown-ish, originally developed for ABC, has become a signature hit for Disney’s younger-skewing cabler Freeform. Prequel spinoff Mixed-ish, about a young version of Ross’ Rainbow, remains on the bubble at ABC as it awaits news on a fourth season. The 1980s-set comedy starring Tika Sumpter and Mark-Paul Gosselaar ranks as one of ABC’s lowest-rated scripted originals, with a decision on its future expected to come today.
All the –ish shows are produced by ABC Signature, where star (and Mixed-ish narrator) Ross recently inked an overall deal of her own to develop new projects.
Black-ish, along with The Goldbergs, helped usher in a new era of comedy at ABC, which leaned into diversity and representation by putting the spotlight on different kinds of families. (The Conners, it’s worth noting, reflects a working-class family.) The comedy has never shied away from timely subjects, and in its seventh season, has addressed the pandemic, voting, systemic racism and the movement for social justice and equality.
“In this day and age it is rare to get to decide when your show should come to an end, and we are grateful along with ABC to be able to make this final season exactly what we’d hoped for — and to do it with the entire and AMAZINGLY STELLAR cast coming back to close this chapter out with us the right way!” Barris wrote Friday on Instagram. “This show has changed my life in so many ways and I am so proud of the conversations we’ve started along the way. None of this would have been possible without our audience and supporters, who have championed the show every step of the journey; allowing us to change not just the narrative of Black Families, but of Family, Culture, and and the World in general. All the while allowing us to talk about things that people were not supposed to talk about period and especially on a network television comedy.”
Barris, who departed ABC for a lucrative overall deal with Netflix, remains actively involved in all of the –ish shows. While others serve as showrunners (Courtney Lilly runs Black-ish), Barris has a carve-out in his Netflix deal that allows him to remain deeply connected to the franchise. That he’s penning the script for Old-ish comes as a surprise given his lucrative Netflix deal.
While Barris has focused on developing film and TV projects for Netflix — his scripted comedy Black AF was picked up for a second season at the streamer — sources say Barris has also continued to be in touch with top Disney execs and pushed the company to release his unaired Black-ish episode, “Please, Baby, Please.” The episode, which was famously shelved in 2018, was released on Disney-owned Hulu. The move to shelve the politically themed episode proved to be the last straw for Barris at Disney, and the showrunner negotiated an early exit from his ABC deal and signed a three-year, eight-figure pact with Netflix in August 2018.
Black-ish will be one of three veteran broadcast series that will come to an end during the 2021-22 broadcast season, joining NBC’s This Is Us and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. ABC is expected to make the remainder of its renewal and cancellation decisions today ahead of its upfront presentation Tuesday.