ABC Developing Chinese-American Family Comedy From Jessica Gao & Imagine TV

Photo: Personal Archive

We may be seeing the impact of the breakout success of Crazy Rich Asians on the 2018-19 broadcast development season. ABC has given a script commitment plus penalty to a single-camera comedy from Rick & Morty writer — and newly minted Emmy winner — Jessica Gao, Imagine Television Studios and CBS TV Studios.

Written by Gao, who is of Chinese descent, the untitled series is about Janet Zhao, a first generation Chinese-American woman who struggles to set healthy boundaries with her crazy, exhausting family. When her wealthy grandmother dies and names Janet the sole inheritor, she suddenly finds herself the unwilling new matriarch of the family she’s spent her life trying to keep at arm’s length.

Gao executive produces with Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo and Samie Kim Falvey.

The deal at ABC for the project comes as comedy Crazy Rich Asians, about a rich Singaporean family, continues its great boxoffice tun, having grossed $136 million to date domestically.

This marks the first major broadcast sale in Kim Falvey’s first broadcast pitch season since joining Imagine as President of Television last October. It is to ABC where she ran comedy for many years, developing most of the network’s signature comedy series of the past decade, Modern Family, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, The Goldbergs, The MiddleSpeechless and American Housewife.

Fresh Off the Boat, which Kim Falvey, who is of Korean descent, shepherded, became the first Asian family comedy in the U.S. in more that two decades.

Gao was one of four female writers added to Rick & Morty for Season 3, the first time the hugely popular Adult Swim animated series had hired women to establish gender parity in the writers room. It was a Season 3 episode written by Gao, Pickle Rick, which landed the show, created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, its first Emmy nomination and win as Best Animated Program this past weekend.

Her TV series credits also include Robot Chicken and Silicon Valley.

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