Second-year sitcom Reed Between The Lines started as a show about a professional African-American couple juggling their careers and family responsibilities. It will now go under a major revamp as the mom, Tracee Ellis Ross, has departed the show. She was not only one of its main characters but a producer on it as well. Ross played Dr. Carla Reed. BET will continue the show focusing on Alex Reed, played by former Cosby kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
Ross also joined Bad Girls, an NBC fall pilot about women in federal prison that the network didn’t pick up. She didn’t rule out a return to Reed at some point, releasing a statement saying she believes in and cares about the show. Ross is best known for her starring role as Joan Clayton on the UPN comedy Girlfriends.
The show will write out Ross’ character by separating the couple it spent the first season portraying as happy and loving. Carla Reed gets her dream job in Los Angeles. Alex doesn’t feel the move is a good thing for the couple’s kids, so he stays behind in Atlanta with them.
BET will attempt to cushion the blow of Ross, and probably many of her fans, leaving by adding Tony Rock, Nichole White and Night Court veteran Charlie Robinson. Rock and White will play Alex’s friends, while Robinson plays his father.
This show and Ross’ participation in it were important parts of BET’s revamp with original programming. There aren’t many shows on TV currently portraying a well-to-do, loving African-American couple. That’s a void this comedy initially hoped to fill. Stars have left sitcoms before. But it usually happens after the show is already well established, not after a single season. Ross wasn’t just a main character, she was part of Reed’s message. It will be interesting to see if viewers stick around for what will be a radically different program than the one they started watching.
Read [Los Angeles Times]