We love a workplace comedy and the latest one taking over the internet is "Abbot Elementary" on ABC.
The hit show is shot in the now-classic "mockumentary" style that will bring longtime sitcom viewers back to the days of "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation."
The pilot opens with a documentary crew following a group of dedicated teachers in an underfunded Philadelphia school, Abbott Elementary.
Former Buzzfeed video star Quinta Brunson stars as a young second-grade teacher Janine Teagues. Janine and history teacher Jacob Hill, played by Chris Perfetti, are the two teachers who made it past their first year working for the school, she explains, and that trauma has somewhat bonded them.
Janine looks up to experienced kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard, played by Sheryl Lee Ralph, and at one point accidentally calls her “mom.” Barbara gets along with another senior teacher, the fast-talking Melissa Schemmenti, played by Lisa Ann Walter. Melissa teaches second grade as well and “has a guy” for just about everything, regardless of the legality of it.
A teacher is fired in the first episode (don't worry, this isn't really a spoiler!) and they bring in substitute teacher Gregory Eddie, played by Tyler James Williams. Gregory wants to be principal — and even got the job before "something happened" — but it's revealed the current principal, Ava Coleman (played by Janelle James), blackmailed her way into the top spot.
Where is Abbott Elementary?
The fictional school is located in Philadelphia. In the show, the teachers are well aware of their underfunded classrooms. Their antics to secure supplies is a struggle familiar to many real-life educators.
Brunson, who is also the show creator, has said in previous interviews that she was inspired by her own upbringing in the West Philadelphia school system and her mother, who was a kindergarten teacher.
She told Vulture in a story published this week that the series was named after her middle-school teacher, Ms. Abbott.
Even though Barbara clearly favors new substitute Gregory, he has his eyes set on Janine. The show seems to be setting up a classic will-they-or-won't-they situation for the two characters.
Complicating manners is that Janine has an unfortunate boyfriend — played by Zack Fox — who doesn't appear to be contributing to the rent or concerned about her feelings.
“It was important to have Black love depicted on the screen because, you know, I’m from Philly,” Brunson says. “It’s accurate to the world of a school like Abbott. It’d be weird to see Janine randomly dating some white guy. We were excited to show this cute hometown romance that reminded us of our families.”
Fans have been tweeting their approval of the show since it began but in recent weeks, there's been a noticeable uptick.
Even "The Office" alum Mindy Kaling tweeted her approval, writing it's a "hilarious and heartwarming show!"
Brunson told Vulture that she is "shocked" by the popularity.
“Sitcoms in the past, you watch them slowly build up an audience, so I wasn’t prepared for this," she said. "Part of my goal was TV that could bring a 14-year-old and a 98-year-old together to watch it. I’m hearing that about moms and grandmothers and kids, and it warms my heart.”
In a now-viral tweet, Brunson echoed those sentiments.
"People telling me that they watch Abbott Elementary with their mom, dad, kids, granny and third cousin really makes my day," she wrote last month.
Who Should Watch?
"Abbott Elementary" is pretty safe for most audiences. A review on Common Sense Media — a non-profit that rates TV shows on how suitable they are for kids — says the sitcom should be fine for children 12 and older. Children on the non-profit's website rated the show as appropriate for kids older than 10.
"I know some teachers and this reminds me of them," one child wrote in their review. "It shows me how their life plays out behind the scenes."
You can watch new episodes of Abbott Elementary on Tuesday nights on ABC or streaming on Hulu.