Have you SEEN this show? If not, let me introduce you to "Abbott Elementary." And its creator.
I just discovered this series (I know, where have I been, under a rock?) after reading this great article in The New York Times about its creator, Quinta Brunson, who also stars.
She's a sensation. Whip smart, funny, thoughtful, big-hearted, warm and ... did I mention funny?
Just like her show. Vulture called it "the most charming show of the winter." Vanity Fair called it "TV's favorite new show." And it's got a nearly unprecedented score on the Tomatometer:
The show follows an idiosyncratic group of teachers at a struggling school in Philadelphia, Brunson’s hometown. She plays Janine, a scrappy young second-grade teacher who genuinely loves her kids and will do whatever she can for them.
So what makes the show so great, anyway? Well she can tell you in her own words. Below are just a couple of pithy answers from her many recent interviews. Read 'em and be impressed. Then watch the show (ABC) and be very, very entertained.
David Marchese [NYTimes]:
Plenty of TV shows have been set in schools. But what were you keen on capturing about that world that you hadn’t seen before?
That teachers have lives. That they are human beings. I went back and looked at a bunch of school shows. “Never Have I Ever”: That focuses on kids. “Euphoria” focuses on the kids. “Boy Meets World” was interesting because Mr. Feeny has a world, but it’s still in relation to the students. The other thing about a lot of the other school shows: They’re taking place in high school or middle school. The kids have fully functioning lives and opinions. Part of what made me want to base “Abbott” around elementary school was that I knew the audience would understand that these teachers’ job is to keep these kids alive and to teach them. They get that. So now you’re more invested in, How are they going to do this? Who are they? What kind of person takes this job? It was important for me to show that in a grounded way. There was another good show recently: “Teachers” on TV Land. That took place in an elementary school, but that show was done in a heightened, kind of cartoony way. What if we took the approach that teachers are real people instead of heightened stereotypes? That was kind of my goal, and that was inspired by my mother. (Brunson’s mother is Norma Jean Brunson, a longtime Philadelphia kindergarten teacher.)
She had my dad and her activities outside of school and her issues the same way the rest of us do. I thought that was the way to go.
Jason Johnson [Slate]
I’ve been reading through your book (She Memes Well: Essays), really, really enjoying it. And I want to talk in particular about how it has to do with Abbott Elementary. A lot of people, especially in comedy, they talk about how they hated high school, it was miserable. You were prom queen. I mean, you went to Charter High School of Art and Design (CHAD), you went to sort of a tech, science architecture school. But how did your experiences in what appears to be a pretty functional, good high school experience, how does that inform Abbott Elementary? Because most people say that high school was terrible and you’re not that person.
I’m so happy you brought that up. My schooling experiences period, I had the most amazing teachers from kindergarten to high school. I had these teachers who cared so deeply. I had a teacher in sixth grade who actually the show was named after, Miss Abbott. She came to my house and picked me up because we were doing a pretzel sale, and my parents were like, “We can’t get her there.” And Miss Abbott was like, “Well, I’ll come get her. This is important. We’re going to make the dough. I’m teaching a lesson about food, and learning, and selling.”
Those are the kinds of teachers I had in my life from beginning to end. High school teachers that I can’t even go down the list of the way those people just cared about us. And so having a good experience informed what kind of show I would create. A lot of people I think have created school shows with the idea that no one wants to be there…the students, the teachers. Not me. People are doing this job or they care that much. They’re being paid pennies. This is just what they do. So, I was able to show that.
Abbott Elementary aired its season finale Tuesday, April 12th, but can be streamed anytime on ABC.com and on Hulu.