ABC’s Abbott Elementary got off to the races in its debut season. The midseason release was an instant hit among fans who were looking for a new workplace comedy to love. It also became the darling of awards season, just 13 episodes into the series. And now, it’s time for season 2.
The show, which follows the lives and work of public school teachers in Philadelphia, garnered quick loyalty for its stellar character development and gif-worthy camerawork. The bar is set high for the second season. Creator, writer, and star Quinta Brunson knows this, and aims to deliver. But first, she’s hoping that fans can get on board with a slightly different pace than they saw in season 1.
‘Abbott Elementary’ won three Emmys for its debut season
Brunson is the Abbott Elementary triple threat. She is the executive producer of the series, writes many of the episodes, and plays second-grade teacher Janine Teagues. It didn’t take her long in season 1 to find the right cadence to attract viewers. (And keep them.) Episodes averaged 8 million viewers on network and streaming platforms, per Variety. And the show was the highest-rated new comedy for ABC since The Conners debuted in 2018.
The series was nominated for a total of 29 awards for its season 1 effort, according to IMDb. That included seven Primetime Emmy nominations, with those on the show taking home three golden statuettes. Wendy O’Brien won for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, Brunson won for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Sheryl Lee Ralph won for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Abbott didn’t take home the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. But Brunson wasn’t phased by that in the wake of the show’s other wins. The early success isn’t a reason to rest on their laurels, though: The cast still has much to prove before being admitted into the canon of comedic greatness. To prove they understand this, Brunson and the rest of the cast were right back on set for a table read less than 24 hours after a night out at the Emmys.
Quinta Brunson said ‘Abbott Elementary’ Season 2 will be more ‘chill’
Brunson and the rest of the Abbott cast hit the ground running in season 1. They proved their mettle in a television landscape where it’s difficult for network comedies to find solid footing and viewership. In the first 13 episodes, “every single episode, the goal was to show people what we can do, what a banger the show can be,” Brunson told Variety.
As a result, fans fell in love with Jeanine’s earnest efforts to make a difference for her students. They’ve stayed because of the rest of the cast, which includes veteran teachers Barbara Johnson (Ralph) and Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter), fairly incompetent principal Ava Coleman (Janelle James), and incoming teacher/Janine’s love interest Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams).
ABC renewed Abbott Elementary for a 22-episode run for season 2, which will give the primary cast some breathing room. It will also allow the writers to introduce additional supporting characters, new relatives of the main cast, and glimpses into the home lives of the cast outside the Abbott classrooms. In many ways, Brunson said season 2 will transition to more of a traditional sitcom, a la Friends or perhaps The Office. “Now we’ve got episodes that are just chill,” she said “They have no real stakes. And I hope that audiences are OK with that.”
Gregory and Janine won’t be rushing into a serious relationship
The show laid the groundwork in season 1 for the classic “will they/won’t they” dynamic between Janine and Gregory. But Brunson said their relationship will unfold organically as they work side by side. “They actually get to be work colleagues who do the exact same thing and want to do it well,” she told Variety. “We get excited writing little situations for them that have nothing to do with love. We all know the attraction is there … and you get to have moments that mean nothing to our characters but everything to our audience. I’m just pumped about them.”
It’s a familiar arc, but one that Brunson aims to breathe new life into. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; the wheel works,” she said. “I’d just like to give it some spinning rims.”
Abbott Elementary returns to ABC on Wednesday, September 21 at 9 p.m. EST.