ABC Is Teaming up with Viola Davis to Develop a Series About a Black Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the 1960s


Viola Davis has already brought great success to ABC by carrying How to Get Away With Murder with her acting talents, and the network is now embarking on a new partnership with her, albeit not necessarily one that’ll rely on her acting. (Though perhaps if we’re lucky, a later announcement will amend that.)

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Davis is developing a series called The Zipcoders — based on an original idea (as in: a series not based on a book! or a previous movie! or a previous series! imagine that!).

The potential series is called The Zipcoders, and centers around a teenager who forms a rock band when his mother relocates him and his brothers to Austin, TX in order to be closer to her sister from whom she’d become estranged. Set in 1968, right in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the show — which follows the group of black teenagers in the South as they aspire to create a band “like the Beatles” — will, from the sound of it, explore the racialized aspects of music history (in a particularly fraught era and part of the country), especially with the burgeoning genre having so recently and so directly appropriated from black music, yet being so exclusionary in its whiteness.

The idea stemmed from both Davis and her partner at JuVee Productions (and at life), Julius Tennon, and the script is being penned by Barbershop writer Marshall Todd. Per THR, Todd “created a family show around the unique rock group and pitched it to ABC Studios and ABC.”

Todd said in a statement:

This project gives me the opportunity to tell a story that, while specific to the African-American experience, doesn’t travel in the usual tropes. As a parent, I was inspired to tell a story from the dual perspective of parents and children in a world where the rules are constantly changing. Music has always been a passion of mine, and to be able to use it to inform this particular narrative was a provocative challenge. I have found in Viola and the squad at JuVee the perfect co-conspirators dedicated to telling the types of stories that entertain while contributing to the larger cultural conversation.