Unrelated (fka Besties) is done at Freeform — at least in its current state.
The Jordin Sparks-led Kenya Barris series was set to premiere this year, stemming from its straight-to-series order, which came right before Barris left his deal at ABC Studios for one at Netflix.
Now, it has been pulled and will be redeveloped at the network. Deadline, who first reported the news, says: “The network, which in late April appointed comedy veteran Lauren Corrao as head of original programming, is now going back to the drawing board and will be looking for a fresh take on the concept with a new showrunner to join [Ranada] Shepard.”
It is a rare situation where a series, fully cast and preparing for production, gets yanked. The series had already gone through several changes, including a showrunner change, a retitling and a major recast.
Right now, it’s unknown if the main premise of the show — two women of different races finding out they are biologically related — will remain intact during the redevelopment, should the project remain a priority at the network. In its former state, the half-hour, multi-cam would have explored friendship, identity, race and class, following “Becca (Sparks) and her newly discovered half-sister Jesi, as they’re thrown into each other’s lives by an online genetics test and have to figure out how to go from strangers to sisters.”
Sparks’ Becca character was described as “an ambitious overachiever from a hard-working, conservative African-American family, who learns that her birth mother is actually white.” Kris D. Lofton, Matt Shively, Gigi Zumbado, Jessika Van and Davi Santo would have starred alongside her. The cast is not staying intact for redevelopment and they have been released, freeing them up to take on other projects.
Ranada Shephard, who created of TV One’s Born Again Virgin, which starred Danielle Nicolet, Eva Marcille and Meagan Holder, is the creator of this series, along with original showrunners Casey Johnson and David Windsor. Barris is an exec producer.
Unrelated is one of the last remaining Barris projects on the docket at ABC Studios. He had a Bewitched reboot in development for ABC Network, which was initially set for this pilot season but was relocated to off-cycle contention. The black-ish spinoff, mixed-ish, debuts this fall.
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