After months of rumors that he was dissatisfied with its sister network—which has reportedly pushed back against creative decisions on his shows, including an episode referencing the NFL player protests—Black-ish and Grown-ish creator Kenya Barris has announced that he’s leaving his home at ABC Studios. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Barris issued a statement about the move today, which ends his latest deal with the Disney-owned company three years before it was set to originally expire:
I’m very grateful to Patrick Moran and his team at ABC Studios, who have supported me every step of the way as I created the worlds of Black-ish, Grown-ish and now Besties. It has been an incredible ride including a Peabody and Golden Globe win, Emmy nominations, and many other accolades. But most importantly, they’ve allowed me to realize my dream of creating my own shows and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done together.
Barris went on to add that, “No matter what, the studio has never wavered in their support of my creative vision,” presumably as an attempt to defuse reported tensions between himself and the network. “Leaving is bittersweet, but between my series on the air and projects currently in development, I know I’ll continue to work with ABC Studios for a long time.”
The unspoken third party in this little drama, of course, is Netflix; the streaming service has recently aimed its massive development budget at some of TV’s most prolific and powerful creators, and while Barris doesn’t have quite the same catalog (yet) as recent recruits Ryan Murphy or Shonda Rhimes, he’s still the creator of one of the most successful and critically beloved sitcoms currently on the air. According to THR, Barris has reportedly been offered a nine-figure deal to join the service.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Groff and Kenny Smith, both producers on the show, will take over as co-showrunners on Black-ish, which recently wrapped its fourth season on ABC.