With a new year comes new shows, and this year brought to television a gem, “Abbott Elementary.”
Created by Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” is the newest workplace comedy to come to television. Inspired by television sitcoms like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” Brunson was attracted to creating a comedy like those, one where she could create an original character instead of basing it off of her own life.
Brunson may be recognizable by the work she has done for Buzzfeed, which she left recently to work on jobs free of a nine to five commitment. While working for Buzzfeed where she wrote and starred in videos, she created “Broke,” a show about three broke people living in Los Angeles, which was picked up by Youtube Red. After leaving Buzzfeed, Brunson had other ideas in mind, like “Abbott Elementary.”
Alongside Brunson, who plays Janine Teagues, it boasts the cast of Tony Award winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard, “Parent Trap” star Lisa Ann Walter as Melissa Schemmenti, comedy-newcomer Chris Perfetti as Jacob Hill, stand-up comedian Janelle James as Ava Coleman and Chris himself (from “Everybody Hate Chris”), Tyler James Williams, who plays Gregory Eddie.
Barbara Howard and Melissa Schemmenti are seasoned teachers, who can teach the newcomers a thing or two, while Jacob Hill and Gregory Eddie are two of the newcomers. Ava Coleman is the conceited principal, who’s into the new substitute (Eddie).
Each character has their own role in Teagues’s life. Throughout the series, the students are also the stars of the show, whether they are showing off their reading skills or trying to trick their teachers.
With Janine in the center of the show, the viewer gets the experience of watching a new teacher balance her job and her social life.
“Abbott Elementary” is set in the city of brotherly love, better known as Philadelphia. Brunson was born and attended college in the city before getting into an acting career, and has experience in the city.
What makes “Abbott Elementary” so special is that it doesn’t glorify what the city has to offer, but gives a view into the working class and the students that go to school with underfunded budgets. It doesn’t hide the setting, and in one episode even teaches the sight words native to Philadelphia slang like “ard” (alright), “jawn” (used in place of a noun) and “hoagie” (a sub or sandwich).
In the same episode, the unions in South Philly are a topic the history teacher is talking about. He exposes the students to the side that isn’t normally talked about. Brunson isn’t afraid to make it known that Philadelphia is its own city with its own language and history and is nothing to hide behind.
During the airing of each episode, viewers tune in to check out what’s happening with their favorite television teachers, all while live Tweeting each episode. The show’s hashtag trends after each episode, with watchers raving about the uniqueness of the story and the comedic timing of the students in the show.
The pilot episode reached almost three million viewers and the number has been steadily increasing after the third episode. It seems that the audience is as excited for each new episode as Brunson is.
It’s safe to say we might have a new comedy classic on our hands.