'Abbott Elementary' debuts on ABC after difficult year on virtual teaching

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
'Abbott Elementary' debuts after difficult year on virtual teaching
Sandy Kenyon has more on ABC's new sitcom "Abbott Elementary" which gives realistic view of teachers.

NEW YORK -- A new situation comedy on ABC takes a look at a dedicated group of teachers facing challenges at the fictional Abbott Elementary School, and after a tough year of virtual teaching, the timing of the show seems just right.

The show is set in Philadelphia, where its creator and star Quinta Brunson came of age.

She first made her mark on Instagram where her series of videos about a "Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date" went viral. Now, Brunson has crossed over to network TV where she has followed the traditional advice to: "write what you know."

She is the daughter of a teacher and explains that, "The whole show was inspired by me going to visit her before she retired. Had this moment watching her help a student at a parent teacher conference, and it was the spark of inspiration. This is what I want to make a show about."

Her show has humor and heart says Lisa Ann Walter, who plays one of the teachers.

"We're going into a community that doesn't always get the light shown on it, and not in a way that's preachy or like, 'here's how you fix it at the end of 22 minutes' because it's not that," Walter said. "It's just a realistic view of teachers."

"Abbott Elementary" may be set in Philly, but its situations will seem familiar to parents everywhere.

"I come from a family of teachers," Sheryl Lee Ralph told our affiliate KABC-TV. "My dad was a teacher turned college professor, taught music his whole life. My auntie, Carolyn: a teacher turned principal."

Their former students have sent letters saying how these educators changed their lives.

Teachers on the show get angry and frustrated. There's never enough resources to do their job, and although the show was conceived before the pandemic made their jobs so much more difficult, the timing of this workplace comedy does seem fortunate.

"I feel like people need to feel good on a mass scale on network TV," says Tyler James Williams who plays a substitute teacher. "I feel like we need to talk about something that we all had to kind of go through and one of them was educating kids so to start on something like that just felt like it was the right time."

Williams grew up in Yonkers and credits his first grade teacher, Lenore Barone, with helping him to make the transition from kindergarten to elementary school. He remembers her fondly because she never patronized him and never talked down to him.

So, this is a show made by entertainers as an amusing tribute to those who shaped their lives.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* Follow us on YouTube

* More local news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts Submit a News Tip