Aug 20, 2020
Get Away with Murder, yes, Manhattan Love Story, no. Predictions for every new show on ABC this fall.
ABC is dead last in ratings and, not coincidentally, has the most new shows in the lineup this fall. Will the newbies help the Alphabet climb out of the cellar? Considering just how many series the network is holding back as midseason replacements, I’d guess the execs aren’t confident.
Here are the official Happy Nice Time People predictions for the new additions to the ABC lineup:
Probably the most talked about new show in the ABC lineup, Black-ish brings together Anthony Andrews (Law & Order, K-ville, The Shield), Lawrence Fishburne (both on screen and as an exec producer), and Minority Report’s Larry Wilmore (off screen only, so far)… so the talent is off the charts. Anderson is an financially successful African-American dad who worries that his kids aren’t growing up with the same cultural experiences he did, making them not really “black” in the way he thinks of it. “We didn’t want to do a show about a family that happened to be black,” said Kenya Barris (who created the show based on his real-life experiences) in an interview with The Wrap. “We wanted to do a show about a family that was absolutely black.”
With the role of race in American culture being so prominent in the show’s concept, there is definitely a risk that white audiences will feel vaguely uncomfortable about the whole thing and avoid it. In fact, I do think that will limit the show’s initial audience to some degree. But I’m also a believer in talent, and I think this show is so overloaded with it that any initial reluctance will evaporate before the end of season one.
Most mothers would be thrilled to see their daughters about to graduate from law school and about to embark on a prestigious internship, or maybe I only think that because I’m white. Cristela’s mother is the product of a different culture and has different aspirations for her daughter. Cristela is a semi-autobiographical exploration of a young Mexican-American woman’s attempt to find balance between her Caucasian-dominated career and traditional Hispanic family.
Overbearing parents are a well that never runs dry for sitcoms. Culture clash, too. If the lead is likeable and the jokes are good—and I’m betting they are—this sitcom has great potential.
Easily renewed for a second season.
The name is eliciting groans from every corner of the internet, but the concept’s not bad. When a self-obsessed 20-something realizes her social media stardom doesn’t make her so much famous as infamous, she asks an image consultant to transform her into a better person. Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan stars as Eliza Dooley—and yes, the My Fair Lady reference is intentional. Harold & Kumar’s John Cho gets the Henry Higgins role.
It all depends on how out-there Gillan’s character is. She’s the center of the show so she needs to play somewhat of the straight man role. (There’s a reason The Big Bang Theory revolves around Leonard, not Sheldon.) But I’m going to give this one the benefit of the doubt based solely on how darn likeable the two leads are.
Earns a second season.
Manhattan Love Story
Pretty white people start dating, and we get to listen in on their thoughts via voiceover as the relationship begins.
Voiceover is a cheap trick for lazy writers. And judging by the trailer, everything about this sitcom is lazy, from the setting to the characters to the jokes. “Wait, did I leave porn lying around?” the dude wonders when a young woman is about to see his place for the first time. Har-de-har-har. And the delivery isn’t even emotionally honest; it’s more like a lame standup routine.
Not only is listening to a character’s thoughts a gimmick that gets old quickly, but the sitcom world has moved past it. With shows like Modern Family and Parks and Recreation doing such a brilliant job of integrating “confession booth”-style interviews into the scenes to give us a peek inside the characters’ minds, why bother with this awkward, outdated technique?
Fantastic Four’s Ioan Gruffudd can’t stay dead. He’s been hanging around New York for a few hundred years, occasionally dying but magically coming back (always naked in water, for some reason). Hoping to get to the bottom of his own mystery, he’s become a medical examiner for the NYPD in order to study death. It’s a lot like Highlander decided to become a police procedural.
Is the central mystery of Gruffudd’s immortality interesting enough to sustain what otherwise looks like another tepid murder-of-the-week cop show? Unlikely. Modern TV is well past the era where an hour-long drama can be so completely focused on one character and his personal quest. That was the model in the 1980s, but it had become syndicated and basic cable fodder by the 1990s. Now it’s dead.
Limps along until the end of the season but is not renewed.
How to Get Away with Murder
Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal,will own ABC’s entire three-hour Thursday lineup once How to Get Away with Murder premieres. Viola Davis stars as a brilliant criminal defense professor whose class full of sexy, ambitious law students get enmeshed in an actual murder case.
Sounds awesome. Unless Rhimes is spreading herself too thin—which I doubt—this is one is going the distance. I just wish the title were a little less unwieldy.
Waiting in the wings are:
- Secrets and Lies (…has potential)
- Marvel’s Agent Carter (…is a horrible idea)
- American Crime (…is too drab and heavy)
- Galavant (…will wear out its welcome well before 10 episodes)
- The Astronaut Wives Club (…is only designed to run one season)
- Fresh off the Boat (…looks promising)
- The Whispers (…could be awesome, but I don’t trust any sci-fi focused on child characters)