Maybe not since the early to mid-1990s, when Hanging With Mr Cooper, Sister, Sister, and Family Matters were all on air on ABC, have we seen this many shows centered around the lives of black characters on the network, at the same time (although they haven't all yet made it onto ABC's lineup, so everything I just said is moot).
Earlier this week, rapper/actor Eve joined a *family* over at ABC that includes Shonda Rhimes, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Kevin Hart, Kenya Barris and Sheldon Candis - each either already has a show - or shows - on the network's lineup, or has a show - or shows - in development at the network).
Announced today, ABC has ordered a pilot for Barris' half-hour scripted comedy titled Black-ish (from a previous script commitment) starring Anthony Anderson, written by Kenya Barris (The Game), and produced by Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy production company.
To be based on Barris' own life (loosely), Black-ish will follow an upper-middle class black man, intent on raising his kids with some sense of cultural identity, in the face of an assault of constant contradictions and obstacles coming from various directions, insisting that his children be color-blind.
“I decided to do this project when I looked up and realized that everywhere I go I’m constantly the fly in buttermilk... I’m usually THE Black guy at work. We’re THE Black family in the neighborhood. My kids are basically THE Black kids at school. I think it’s kind of a situation of be careful what you wish for. It’s almost in like moving on up, I’ve sort of priced myself “out” of being Black,” said Barris.
Anderson will play the lead, with the possibility that Fishburne might appear in the series as well, as Anderson's old-school father.
Black-ish will be produced by Fishburne and his producing partner Helen Sugland, with Tom Russo, Anderson and Barris exec producing, along with Peter Principato, Paul Young and Brian Dobbins.
Barris' writing credits also include (Are We There Yet?, Soul Food, Girlfriends, The Game) and he's also co-creator of America's Next Top Model.
Graduating from script order to pilot order is a large step in the right direction. Let's hope the network takes what will be the next crucial step in the process and actually orders the project to series.
No other casting has been announced yet.