Entertainment

Abbott Elementary is the show teachers have long deserved

fFor decades, television has been tirelessly trying to refresh the lens through which we see doctors, lawyers and police officers. But the concept of making a comedy about underfunded schools in America? Pretty much unheard of. That was until the breakout mockumentary debuted in 2021, Abbott Elementary Schoolcreated by and with the cheerful Quinta Brunson.

The hilariously endearing sitcom, which returns to ABC for its second season tonight, follows a ragtag group of determined Philadelphia educators whose primary goal – despite a disastrous lack of resources – is to provide their elementary school students with dedicated support and a decent education to offer education. Or, as Brunson’s young and energetic wife, Janine Teagues, puts it, “To make sure the students get out alive.”

All of this remains an unfortunate reality for teachers in the US public school system, which is analogous to UK public schools. So finally seeing the frightening underbelly of America’s education system at the center of an Emmy-nominated comedy is a long-overdue blessing. Not just for the 90 percent of Americans who went to public school, but most importantly, for the dwindling 2 percent (estimated by UnitedStatesNow) who chose the demanding careers I like to call America’s true heroes.

As the daughter of a retired public school teacher, the sitcom beautifully addresses issues of growing up, including the local government’s decision to divert funds to unnecessary projects rather than to Abbott Elementary’s parched budget. “I would say the main problem in the school district is, yeah, no money,” Ms. Teagues informs the documentary crew, who are following her and her fellow teachers. “The city says there isn’t one, but they’re conducting a multi-million dollar renovation of the Eagles. [football] Stadium down the road from here. But we just get by,” she admits.

From having to collect old newspaper clippings from the barber shop across the street for craft days, to gluing new information into impossibly outdated textbooks, these teachers’ “making a living” is perhaps the biggest understatement of the year.

“All right, boys. So there have been three more presidents since that one,” Ms. Teagues tells her students while pointing to a portrait of former US President George W. Bush. “It’s an old book. So this is where I included the others,” she adds, flipping to the next page, which features former President Barack Obama. A monstrous scene indeed, but nonetheless real travesties like this are affecting real US schools right now.

Meanwhile, teachers’ pleas for more funding are sidelined in favor of the personal impulses of incompetent principal Ava Coleman (played by the effortlessly funny Janelle James). “The school district approved its emergency budget and immediately sent the money to us. We could have hired helpers, we could have gotten carpets, but then I thought, no, we need something more immediate,” she proclaims, before unveiling a shiny new poster that features an animated image of her next to the school’s name is. “Fix the exterior. Inside takes care of itself.”

(LR) Quinta Brunson, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph on Abbott Elementary

(ABC)

Take a format popularized by Parks and Recreation, The office, and modern familyAbbott Elementary School provides an important commentary on an increasingly sinister set of American values. That we care more about the commercialization of sport than educating our youth; that teachers must also act as substitute therapists, nannies, and social workers for our children; and that it has become commonplace for educators to turn to community members for educational materials once provided by the government.

“It’s so seldom that everything that has elements of beauty doesn’t also account for darkness,” Brunson said recently The Independent. “dept was born out of the darkness of underfunded Philadelphia public schools.”

And while its source material doesn’t seem relevant to everyone, as Brunson went on to explain, “People got used to it Abbott Elementary School because it’s a real workplace comedy”. Anyone who has worked for a company with mismanaged finances and a bad boss can relate to this.

Although, more importantly, it is at its core a love letter to the teachers, assuring them that their dedication will not go unnoticed.

Abbott Elementary Season 2 premieres September 21 on ABC

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/abbott-elementary-quinta-brunson-emmy-b2168870.html Abbott Elementary is the show teachers have long deserved

JOE HERNANDEZ

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