Starring Black-ish breakout Yara Shahidi and Deon Cole, from Black-ish executive producer Kenya Barris, College-ish follows the Johnson’s eldest daughter Zoey (Shahidi) as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest. The series is described as a contemporary take on the current issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education. Cole plays Charlie, who moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor. They’ll be joined by new characters both in the administration and student body who reflect the complex and hilarious points of view that populate college campuses.
“I never thought they’d let me put Black-ish on the air, let alone give me a spin-off,” said Barris. “I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to continue working with Yara and the rest of this talented young cast. To any aspiring writers struggling to make it out there, I highly advise adding an ‘-ish’ to any working title you might have. It seems to be the move.”
The episode of Black-ish, which served as a backdoor pilot for College-ish, also featured Chris Parnell, Matt Walsh and young actor Trevor Jackson. While the pilot was received well at ABC, it was deemed too young-skewing for the broadcast network but would fit right into the millennial demo target of cable sibling Freeform. Talks about migrating the comedy from ABC to the cable network started about 10 days ago.
“Our goal at Freeform is to celebrate the power, possibility and inclusivity of youth culture through our shows,” said Karey Burke, the netowrk’s EVP Programming & Development. “Kenya Barris blazes new trails in the funniest way possible with College-ish, and we can’t wait to get schooled by the incredibly talented Yara Shahidi, who is the perfect addition to our Freeform family.”
Barris, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland and Brian Dobbins are executive producers of the series, from ABC Studios. The show was written by Kenya Barris and Larry Wilmore, who is no longer with the project.
Black-ish is following in the footsteps of hit 1980s NBC family sitcom The Cosby Show, which similarly spun off the Huxtables’ daughter Denise (Lisa Bonet) into her own series, A Different World, when she went to college.