Let’s be Upfront about the ABC Fall Schedule

Can I be upfront about something? (See what I did there?) I had my introduction to this fun and fast-paced tv schedule unveiling last Tuesday during the Chicago screening of the ABC event. And I learned a lot – even more than I anticipated.

Things I know now after attending the ABC Upfront:


Retro Fever

The ‘90s/00’s nostalgia is alive and kicking. Not only did this event feature the Backstreet Boys performing everyone’s favorite karaoke song (Backstreets Back), but also ABC is highlighting some of the best television from that era. The hit show “Roseanne” will resurrect this fall with much of the original cast. American Idol, the reality contest that started a televised singing phenomenon, is refreshed and rebooted and moving over to ABC with Katy Perry as the principal celebrity judge. If these shows do well, don’t be surprised by many more reunions occurring during primetime.

Politically Correct

It is nearly impossible to completely turn a blind eye to the state of affairs in our nation’s capitol. Rather than trying to avoid addressing these hot button issues, ABC is diving headfirst into the topic. The return of “Roseanne” is sure to feature many controversial views, keeping up the same theme the show had when it first aired. ABC is also introducing a new show that is sure to touch on our current political climate. “The Mayor” promises to turn politics upside down, giving a fresh voice to old issues while appealing to the millennial audience. At the midseason, another new show should also add to the political buzz. “The Crossing” is a drama featuring refugees from a war-torn and ravaged land. That land? America in 150 years.

Kimmel is King

Jimmy Kimmel is ABC’s darling. Even though the late night host chose to remain with his family rather than roast at the upfront, ABC gave a touching tribute to Kimmel. Although it was only briefly mentioned, Kimmel will host a live staging of vintage sitcoms starring modern actors. And to top is off, ABC did confirm that Kimmel will again host the Oscars (especially in light of last year’s stellar performance).

Bring Back Live

There is a lot of data that demonstrates how television-viewing habits are changing. Binge watching and streaming services are all the rage. ABC faced this challenge head on rather than trying to avoid it. There will be new ways to target audiences that are not watching in real time. But, beyond that, ABC is zeroing in on the success of live events. They will feature a live adaptation of the Disney musical, “The Little Mermaid”, while also incorporating Jimmy Kimmel’s project.

Everything Must End

Scandal announced that this upcoming season is its last. The show was definitely the star of the event, with the entire cast coming on stage to bid farewell to fans and to thank everyone for their continual support.

Don’t Mess with a Good Thing

Though Scandal may be ending, Shondaland (shows created by Shonda Rhimes) continues to expand. There is buzz surrounding a new legal drama, “For the People”, and a Seattle Firehouse spinoff of “Grey’s Anatomy” is also in the works. Shonda Rhimes will be very busy this upcoming fall season.

Be Upfront About It

ABC acknowledged and played off of their shortcomings and past mistakes. They aired a clip of the debacle that was the Best Picture announcement at last year’s Oscar ceremony. They also addressed their (and the entire industries) falling rating as more viewers turn towards Over the Top options. ABC didn’t turn away from the past, but is looking towards the future.

Last (but not least)

As this 90s girl will attest, the Backstreet Boys can still steal the show.


Who’s excited for this upcoming fall television season? I know I am anticipating it more now than I ever have before.


Shannon Curtis, the author, will hopefully attend many more upfronts in the future. Shannon is the Project and Social Media coordinator at Marketing Keys, a boutique media management firm in the heart of downtown Chicago.