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Review: ABC’s new hit comedy “Abbott Elementary” gives new appreciation for teachers

Gilles Mingasson
“Abbott Elementary” can be watched on ABC, streamed on the ABC app or streamed on Hulu. (NPR)

Creator Quinta Brunson’s “Abbott Elementary” premiered last December to households nationwide. By its second episode, it had already become ABC’s #1 comedy. Featuring a mockumentary-style production, the comedy show depicts the lives of Philadelphia public school teachers. 

“I don’t think I could have created this without my love of teachers,” said Brunson on Good Morning America. “Y’know, like this, deep love that I hope I’m sharing with the world in a positive way.”

Brunson is executive producer and stars as the main character, Janine, a second-grade teacher with a positive attitude. While she wants to bring out the good in everyone around her, her drive often causes more problems than it solves.

From the first episode, there was no doubt that this series was going to be special. The jokes and relatability of the characters always leave the audience wanting more after that 22-minute runtime. 

I appreciate the show especially for its Black representation, through both the kids and the main cast. The diversity of hairstyles among the children is something that immediately popped out to me. Black hairstyles, specifically 4C hair, are not often portrayed in the media. The number of children rocking afro puffs, cornrows, mini-fros and braids were more than enough to ask for.

Brunson often uses the show’s platform to discuss problems in the educational system. “The Gifted Program” was a standout episode for this.

The episode discusses how harmful it is for a school to prioritize students that show success in STEM fields. Students that do not show those skills are often left behind, which can ultimately affect their own potential achievements and self-confidence. The episode highlights that students can have intelligence in subjects outside academic fields, and those also should also be celebrated.

Episodes like “Wishlist” highlight how little the education system is funded, leading teachers to make do with what they have. Oftentimes, luxuries given to the students, like gold stars or pizza parties, come out of the teacher’s pocket. 

While a comedy, “Abbott Elementary” makes you care about the lives of these teachers. It’s sad seeing Barbara, the oldest teacher (played by Sheryl Lee Ralph), feel as though her age is affecting her job performance. 

Gregory, a substitute teacher played by Tyler James Williams, learning to open up to his students is heartwarming to watch. You might even become invested in the will-they-won’t-they storyline of Janine leaving her long-time partner for Gregory, with whom she has obvious chemistry.

Abbott Elementary has just released its tenth episode at the time of writing. I highly recommend giving this series a watch if you are into light-hearted comedies or mockumentary-style shows like “The Office” or “Parks and Rec.” The show can be watched on ABC, streamed on the ABC app or streamed on Hulu. 

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