Spoiler alert! The following contains details from the Season 3 premiere of “Abbott Elementary.”
It’s so good to be back in West Philly.
After a long hiatus, caused in part by last summer’s writers’ and actors’ strikes, ABC’s Emmy-winning hit “Abbott Elementary” is finally back in the classroom (Wednesdays, 9 EST/PST). And it’s been far too long of a wait for one of the best, most joyous shows on television. In the cold months of winter, while the news is bleak, it’s so good to be back in the underfunded halls of “Abbott,” with creator/star Quinta Brunson and the rest. It’s comfort TV, without the “guilty pleasure” attached.
The Season 3 premiere saw some big changes at “Abbott.” Brunson’s Janine accepted a fellowship to work for the school district for a year instead of in the classroom. Her will they/won’t they romantic tension with Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams) ended with a “won’t they” at the end of Season 2, and it seems like they’re staying apart after the premiere reveals Gregory awkwardly rejecting an advance from Janine. Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) starts to believe new blood in the school district administration might actually make a difference. Slacker principal Ava (Janelle James) briefly tries her hand at being a too-strict boss, and Melissa (Lisa Ann Walters) ends things with her boyfriend after he tries to convince her to marry him. And Janine’s new school district co-worker might just end up being her new love interest, too.
The wonderful thing about a sitcom like “Abbott” is its consistency. Like great workplace comedies before it, such as “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation,” “Abbott” found an easy flow with its characters and quips and managed to sustain it through two seasons. Judging by Wednesday’s return, Season 3 won’t be any different. It revels in the universal (Gregory and Janine’s frustrating romantic ineptitude) and the specific (a few hundred Philadelphia references, including cameos from Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts, Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham in the premiere).
Three seasons in, the writers and the audience are so comfortable with the characters that the humor comes fast and naturally. When Hurts, the Eagles’ quarterback, thinks Janine is a child dressed up for career day, it’s just the tip of a long-running series of quips about her baby face and (very short) stature. When Gregory opines about his love for bitter radishes, you might just remember that he’s a bland weirdo who also doesn’t like pizza (but we love him, anyway).
Although audiences clearly still love “The Office” and “Friends,” judging by how many people still binge-watch them, there just aren’t many new instant-classic sitcoms on TV these days, on broadcast TV or the streamers. “Abbott” is unique, and it’s recent Emmy haul is proof of what a unicorn it is in 2024.
For every episode we get to visit the school, I’m thankful to spend time there.
First appeared on www.usatoday.com