After initially renewing it for a second season, OWN has canceled its series Love Is __ in light of the graphic domestic violence allegations against co-creator Salim Akil.
OWN confirmed the news in a statement to Shadow and Act: “OWN has decided not to move forward with the second season of Love Is __”
Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil created the series, which was said to be inspired by their real-life romance of the Akils.
Set in Los Angeles during the 1990s against the backdrop of Black Hollywood, the series chronicled the lives of Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett), a couple from seemingly different worlds, as they pursue their goals. Wendy Davis, Clarke Peters, Idara Victor, Tyrone Brown, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing and Kadeem Hardison co-starred.
The lawsuit against Akil was first reported earlier last month. In the lawsuit, Amber Dixon Brenner alleges that she and Salim Akil had a “physically and sexually abusive relationship” which began 10 years ago. The documents give very graphic details, where Brenner alleges numerous graphic occasions of abuse at the hands of Akil, including slapping, strangling and forced oral sex. Brenner claims that Akil once asked her to follow him into the bathroom at a birthday party where he slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex and urinated in her mouth.
Salim Akil is also the showrunner of The CW’s DC Comics series, Black Lightning, with Mara Brock Akil also produces.
The status of Black Lightning’s for a Season 3 is not yet known. The show’s production is still underway for Season 2. It is worth noting that Greg Berlanti, who produces the most amount of scripted shows on television right now (including The CW’s The Flash, Arrow, Riverdale, etc), exec produces Black Lightning and he also has an overall deal at Warner Bros. TV should the Akils be ousted. The show is a good ratings performer for The CW and does not leave the studio in a pickle like they were for Love Is ___, due to the latter being autobiographical. Love Is __ was also not one of OWN’s strongest ratings performers.
According to Deadline, this news comes as investigations were completed on the sets of both shows. No other allegations of misconduct were found as a result of the inquiries at either show, but the trade publication says, “While Black Lightning remains in production with Akil as showrunner, the feeling in OWN is that the premise of Love Is_ has been fundamentally altered amidst the claims in federal and state court against Salim Akil, we’ve heard.”
UPDATE: Mara Brock Akil has addressed the cancellation on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
LOVE IS___ I am saddened that this great group of #artists and #storytellers will no longer get to create together on this project in this way. This was a special tribe— assembling teams like this is by the grace of God— and I will miss not being on set with them to make more magic. And though I know we will all go on to create more amazing work, I’m grateful there was a moment in time that we came together and had the courage to give our best to try and tell a story about love with love. #InTheLandOf #LoveIs