With the recent endings of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Schitt’s Creek,” you might be in search of a new sitcom to indulge in. Created by comedian Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” is a new show that follows a group of public-school teachers in West Philadelphia. After the success of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Parks and Recreation,” here is the long-awaited workplace comedy set in a school. Here are some reasons why you should watch the show.
Quinta Brunson’s mother worked in the Philadelphia city school district for 40 years. Brunson revealed that the show takes inspiration from her mother’s experience as a public servant. Brunson also stated that she named the show after her sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Abbott. She highlighted how teachers do their job not because it is financially rewarding, but because they want to and because they are good at it, too. From the very first episode, we see this essence captured in the seasoned teachers of “Abbott Elementary”—Barbra and Melissa. When Brunson’s character Janine faced her first obstacle at her job, Barbra and Melissa reminded her that being a teacher is “a calling.” In the decades they served the school, they have had to be the social workers and second parents to the kids. Working outside of the system to get things done comes with the job.
“Abbott Elementary” is a testament to the idea that television does not have to be cheesy or adapt some sort of consciousness to be entertaining and engaging. For a show that follows underpaid public-school teachers, it navigates the space with great care to avoid negative depictions of the overworked educator. It is not trying to become anything or fulfill diversity quotas. Brunson makes it clear in her creative direction that the show is comedy. The show is funny despite existing in the space that it does. Moreover, the (elementary) kids in the show are allowed to just be kids. No ulterior motive. Additionally, the kids are not trained actors—the authenticity depicted is real and natural. The need to have to go through a traumatic event in order to build character development is deeply flawed. I, for one, am consistently appreciative of shows that do not commodify trauma and actively make creative decisions to celebrate humanity. “Abbott Elementary” does so by celebrating the joyful childhood of the tiny humans and nothing more. You can watch “Abbott Elementary” every Wednesday on Hulu.