Network television took notice when “Orange is the New Black” won its first Emmy. It was a breakout Netflix show that pushed the envelope on content. Network TV shows are now in the minority regarding Emmy wins. This means that shows featured on streaming apps like Amazon Prime and Hulu have changed the game.
ABC has kept some steady hits like “The Goldbergs,” but a new show called “Abbott Elementary” has taken primetime by storm since its premiere in 2021. Quinta Brunson produces and stars in the sow as Janine Teagues, an elementary teacher filled with big dreams to inspire America’s youth, despite her empty wallet. Here are some reasons why we love “Abbott Elementary.”
It's based on Quinta's real life.
Quinta Brunson wrote “Abbott Elementary” as a comedy based loosely on her middle school teacher, Miss Abbott, who went above and beyond for her students despite the underfunding of her West Philadelphia school. In an interview, Quinta said that Miss Abbott always made her feel good. She instilled a high work ethic in her students, requiring them to come to school at 6:00 A.M. Quinta’s parents couldn’t drop her off, so Miss Abbott picked her up and dropped her off from school every day because she wanted Quinta to be part of her workings in the classroom. She once transformed her class into a planetarium which other schools toured as a field trip and had students make and sell pretzels. The funds from the pretzels were used for an end-of-the-year special outing.
It's similar to "The Office."
Like “The Office,” “Abbott Elementary” doesn’t use a live studio audience or laugh tracks to accumulate laughs. Instead, it uses single camera shots to develop a mockumentary feel as teachers talk to the camera like they’re in a movie about their lives. The funny camera glances, tremendous acting, and witty humor keep the audience entertained and coming back every week. It’s also interesting to see the parallels between the characters in “The Office” and the “Abbott Elementary” characters. Janine is the optimistic schoolteacher brimming with new ideas, while Barbara has the mindset of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Janine’s love interest, Gregory, admires her from afar but hasn’t made his feelings known, and Principal Coleman is too busy making Instagram videos to run a school.
It shows Christians in a positive light.
“Abbott Elementary” is one of the few shows that portray Christians positively. Other shows like “The Office” and “Superstore” throw in one Christian, describing them as a preachy hypocrite. However, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who plays Barbara, a seasoned teacher with faith, is respected in her school, mentoring the teachers around her.
The show emphasizes that teachers are heroes.
The show sheds light on poor funding in city schools but also shows teachers’ underappreciated role in their students’ lives. Because of Miss Abbott’s influence on Quinta, she became a well-known actress who created a show that would change the course of those in the poor school districts because she was given an opportunity. Because her teacher cared enough to give her the education she deserves, she inspires other school districts to provide knowledge to those who need it.
There's no agenda.
“Abbott Elementary” episodes don’t read controversial books or push to discuss taboo topics. It’s simply about a group of teachers who want to educate and inspire an overlooked population of children who live in poorer communities. Their only agenda is inspiration and hope, which they deliver in every episode. It’s one of the few comedies with a PG rating that discusses real societal problems.
You may dedicate much of your TV watching to shows and streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu, but “Abbott Elementary” is worth switching back to network television and enjoying the laughs provided by an exceptional cast. The show discusses real community problems, urging audiences to remember that every day is a day to change someone’s life.