For ABC, the new TV season will have a diverse look.
Of the four new shows the network has announced, three have predominantly Black casts. That includes a “Wonder Years” reboot (shown here) that now has Don Cheadle voicing the grown-up narrator, recalling a 1960s childhood in Montgomery, Ala.
That news comes shortly after ABC canceled two Black-themed shows (“For Life” and “Mixed-ish”) and three others (“Rebel,” “American Housewife” and “Call Your Mother”). The network’s other shows have been renewed, including some – “The Rookie,” “Home Economics,” “Big Sky,” “American Idol,” “A Million Little Things” – that might have been close calls.
ABC will present its line-up to advertisers at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, but sent news over the weekend about four new series. They are:
– “Abbott Elementary,” about teachers at a Philadelphia public school. They remain passionate, ABC says, despite a “slightly tone-deaf principal” and a disinterested school district. The cast includes Tyler James Williams, who starred in “Everybody Hates Chris” (and, most recently,”Whiskey Cavalier”) and Sheryl Lee Ralph, whose 40-year career has gone from Broadway’s “Dreamgirls” to TV comedies, including “It’s a Living” and “Moesha.”
– The “Wonder Years” reboot, starting with a 12-year-old boy in a middle-income family. It includes Dule Hill, of “The West Wing” and “Psych.”
– “Queens,” in which women in their 40s re-unite, hoping to recapture their hip-hop success as Nasty Bitches. It includes Eve and Brandy.
– “Maggie,” the only show without a predominant Black cast. Rebecca Rittenhouse – who did the final season of “The Mindy Project” and co-starred in ABC’s “Blood & Oil” – stars. She plays a young psychic who can see the futures of her friends; when she gets a glimpse of her own future, she decides her life needs some work.
ABC has often had a strong Black presence, fueled by the Thursday dramas of Shonda Rhimes and the comedies “Black-ish” and the now-canceled “Mixed-ish.” Rhimes left for Netflix (where her “Bridgerton” is a hit), but left behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19.”
On the unscripted side, it has had Black stars for many of its game shows and, belatedly, for “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor.”
In addition, the network drew praise for its five-week news magazine, “Soul of a Nation.” That will return now with two specials – May 25, marking the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and June 18, celebrating the Juneteenth holiday.