Tonight marks the season 2, episode 1 release date of the new hit ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary and I could not be more excited. While I was admittedly reticent to start watching, citing the fact that I haven’t watched silly little sitcoms since I was in middle school and would watch them with my family, the buzz around its multiple Emmy nominations (and eventual wins) along with the positive feedback I was seeing on Twitter forced me to finally watch it.
It’s no wonder that Quinta Brunson won a writing Emmy for the very first episode. This show is just so well crafted. The jokes are unexpected and punchlines are hit at exactly the right time, creating a laugh out loud, calming experience. It wasn’t long before Abbott became my comfort show, and I was disappointed when I ran out of episodes to watch just a week ago. Luckily, season 2 is right around the corner. For those of you who didn’t watch season 1 just last week, or if you are still reluctant to get into the series, here’s a brief recap and review of season 1.
The show centers around a group of five teachers who work at Abbott Elementary, an underfunded school in Philadelphia. Janine Teagues (Quinta Brunson) and Jacob Hill (Chris Perfetti) are the only two young teachers to have returned after their first year– the rest of them couldn’t handle how difficult it was to be a teacher in that neighborhood. Janine is teaching because she wants to make an impact on kids the way her teachers made an impact on her, a fact which creates remarkably funny scenarios such as her calling an older teacher “mom” in the hallway. Jacob, on the other hand, is just a (probably rich) white boy trying to make a difference in sometimes offensive ways. He talks way too much, but he also cares deeply, and works to make the school a better place.
Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) round out the experienced teacher network. Barbara acts reluctantly as Janine’s mentor and idol, and it’s adorable to watch their relationship strengthen over the course of the season. Melissa is south Philly born and raised, and while her and Barbara are equally jaded, Melissa uses her (probably illegal) connections to fill in the gaps that funding won’t cover in the school. It wouldn’t be a complete Jocelyn Review (TM) if I didn’t also admit that I am now deeply and endlessly in love with Lisa Ann Walter.
The final member of our quintet is Gregory (Tyler James Williams). He’s just there as a long term sub after another teacher became so overwhelmed that she hit a student, but it isn’t long before he finds himself starting to think about staying long term. His crush on Janine– who unfortunately has a pretty terrible boyfriend that she doesn’t break up with until the end of the season– and later Barbara’s daughter doesn’t hurt.
Of course, what makes this show so brilliant is that it isn’t just these five main characters that are fully fleshed out characters. Perhaps one of the biggest sources of comedic relief is Ava Coleman (Janelle James), the principal who got her job by blackmailing the superintendent. She does no work, cares about nobody but herself, and generally makes it harder for everyone else to do their job. James is brilliant at capturing the carefree attitude that makes the principal such a central part to this show.
Mr. Johnson the Janitor (William Stanford Davis), Janine’s boyfriend Tarique (Zack Fox), Jacob’s boyfriend Zach (Larry Owens), and more all round out this cast with their great comedic timing and ability to brighten up a scene within seconds of appearing. I truly cannot explain how much I enjoy this show; it’s the best sitcom to come out since Modern Family and the early days of Blackish. If you have free time tonight, tune in and watch the first episode of season 2.