ABC Orders Chinese-American Family Comedy Pilot From Jessica Gao & Imagine

By Nellie Andreeva, Denise Petski

Photo: Personal Archive

ABC has given a late pilot order to a single-camera comedy from Emmy-winning Rick & Morty writer Jessica Gao, Imagine Television Studios, ABC 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 pilot is a co-production of ABC Studios, Imagine Television Studios and CBS TV Studios, and is Imagine TV’s first network pilot pickup as an independent production company/studio.

The pilot order comes on the heels of the massive box office success of comedy Crazy Rich Asians, about a rich Singaporean family, which has grossed more than $238 million worldwide.

It marks a return to ABC for Imagine’s President of Television Kim Falvey who ran the network’s comedy department for 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.

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.

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

The Jessica Gao project is ABC’s seventh comedy pilot order this season, joining Happy Accident (single camera), Nana (multi-camera/hybrid), United We Fall (multi-camera), Untitled Hannah Simone Project (single camera), Untitled Leslie Odom Jr. Project (multi-camera) and Woman Up (single camera).

Gao is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment, ICM Partners and Morris Yorn.

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