Is it Possible to Resurrect TGIF?

ABC held a strong tradition of family-friendly programming from 1985-2000, eventually earling the TGIF branding in 1989.  Long successful due to hit shows such as Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step By Step and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, the franchise folded in 2000 as Boy Meets World and Sabrina left the schedule.  A brief revival effort came from 2003-06 anchored on the successful George Lopez Show, though a lineup littered with duds led ABC to reformat again.  The closest to Friday success came with relaunching sitcoms in the 8:00 hour from 2012-17, and again from 2018-present.

Could ABC reignite the magic again?  Their sitcom pallet certainly offers compatible family-friendly choices to populate.  And Fridays have become the latest hotbed for television.  No longer a wasteland to dispose of aged or decaying shows, networks are getting competitive with this evening.  CBS houses a sturdy lineup of quality procedurals which regularly win the evening.  NBC houses longstanding dramas at 8:00, followed by progressive reporting on Dateline.  FOX phoned it in with WWE, and ABC holds American Housewife and outgoing Fresh Off The Boat to lead into 42-year old 20/20.  These networks deliver sturdy for the evening save for ABC struggling to schedule strong pieces in the 8:30 timeslot (for a comprehensive history of its clunkers, click HERE).

TGIF returning is possible, although likely not in the next season.  ABC needs all sitcom hands on deck in its other evenings with longstanding shows such as Fresh Off The Boat and Modern Family bow out after 6 and 11 seasons, respectively.  Save for The Conners and an aging Goldbergs, the Tuesday and Wednesday lineups underwhelm.  Tuesdays feature The Conners outlying a sea of middling shows.  Wednesdays are in tatters with The Goldbergs losing steam, its sophomore spinoff Schooled is also struggling and capped at 13 episodes, Modern Family is bowing out and Single Parents just exists.  Fridays still have American Housewife belting out competitive ratings, and Fresh Off The Boat ready to sail on next week.

In order to successfully colonize Fridays again, ABC needs to locate a compatible, established hit next door to American Housewife.  The network has long treated Fridays as a disposal ground vs. a place to repurpose capable players.  Moving Last Man Standing and American Housewife made excellent examples of moving capable players, vs. 2018's blatant shelving of aged Fresh Off The Boat and declining Speechless in the 8:00 hour.  Once ABC succeeds in two back to back hits, they hold room to expand deeper into the 9:00 hour, used as overlay coverage for 20/20.  Repopulating its sitcom roster with strong players is priority, as the drama department on ABC performs weak.  Reality TV is relegated to Sundays and Mondays, and 10:00 slots tend to be show killers.

Which existing shows may make companion pieces for a TGIF branding?  American Housewife fits the bill perfectly with its premise, and "ish" factors Black-ish and Mixed-ish take the crown as well.  Bless This Mess is compatible with American Housewife, which has been used to spackle together ABC's tenuous sitcom nights.  Perhaps parking Black-ish and Mixed-Ish in the 8:00 timeslot may hold well, leaving AH to return to Tuesdays and Wednesdays to help rebuild weak lineups.  New players are needed in the deck to generate sitcom life as most are aged.  In an era of no megahits like Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, ABC will need to compromise and locate cost-effective sitcoms which will likely belt out 0.4-0.6 ratings in the 2020-21 season.

ABC has struck lightning several times in the past, and TGIF remains a strong piece of its legacy.  With proper planning, it could reign again with consuming laughter.  The network will need to work on developing quality showings, as well as not treating the evening as a disposal ground for clunkers.  That is what 10:00 timeslots and Sundays exist for.

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