It was with great sadness that the season finale of this year’s most popular new program, Abbott Elementary, aired this week, bringing an end to a really extraordinary accomplishment in television. It’s a program that took the “mockumentary” comedy format and turned it into something unique, building on many of the best aspects of previous great shows. To wit, the show’s co-creator Quinta Brunson demonstrated that some of the funniest comedy comes from exploring the human side of people we don’t frequently consider. It was possible for the program to mine the day-to-day problems of Philadelphia elementary school teachers attempting to do the right thing by the children they educate for many laughs and ridiculousness because of the approach she took to the topic. As a program that isn’t simply about “feeling nice” for the sake of “feeling good,” it also proved to be incredibly amusing in how it constructed complex characters that supported its keen sense of humor. Each great cast member had their opportunity to shine and seemed so genuine that it was difficult not to connect with the play as we learned more about each of them.
The season’s penultimate episode, “Zoo Balloon,” saw Brunson’s kind-hearted and idealistic Janine decide whether or not to continue teaching at the school. Burnout is all too common among today’s educators, as shown by the fact that many of her peers were abandoning the profession altogether. The sensitivity with which the novel deals with Janine’s plight serves the story’s sense of levity and draws us into the school’s scrappy personnel as they attempt to navigate a profession fraught with perilous uncertainty.
It’s as humorous as it is true that even if she finally chooses to remain, the laughter discovered on the way there amazing. Because we can relate to the characters’ humanity and the difficulties they endure, the jokes ring true and are often laughed at for how real they seem. the lack of resources for instructors is as much of a comedy as the hallway lights flickering and Janine trying to repair it herself just to mistakenly create an outage is.
As a result, we can see how the school’s unapproved field trip to the zoo simply exacerbated Janine’s anxiety over her future. As they try to control a group of youngsters, it serves her character while also introducing the characters to some hilarious situations. You can see there are actual stakes at play in these situations, which makes them all the more enjoyable as you watch each character try to find their own way. Even though the school’s antics have you rolling in your seats, you begin to feel sorry for the students as they try a succession of almost impossible undertakings. According to them, they don’t need to be merely instructors. In addition, they must function as social workers or even parental figures for the children who spend hours a day with them.” Young people are being shaped and supported by them, even if they are being paid very little.
In this last episode, Janine desperately searches for a youngster who has gone missing, and you experience the same level of fear that she does. When she finally locates him, she has a brief sense of relief before being sucked into a balloon and carried away into the sky. Being afraid of heights, she would rather be anywhere except here. A fantastic example of the show’s ability to strike a thrilling balance between comedy and emotion can be seen in this particular moment. As you laugh at Janine’s plight, it helps to highlight how much she loves about her kids, to the extent that she risked placing herself in this position to help them.
A precise balance is struck between these two components of the act and they compliment each other. The brilliant quips and witty writing became more enjoyable to us as we learned more about Janine’s difficulties as a teacher. However, credit must also be given to all the plots and buildup that preceded this last episode. It was difficult not to fall in love with each and every one of the teachers featured in the episode. Despite their flaws, everyone of them was doing their best, which made their occasional doubts and anxieties as realistic as they were amusing.
Every detail contributed to creating realistic depictions of teachers who are not only undervalued, but also depended upon with little regard for their humanity. Abbott Elementary defies this notion, offering not just chuckles but a better appreciation for the underappreciated labor of teachers. It doesn’t elevate them or make light of the challenges they face, as is all too frequently the case. Instead, it sees these individuals for who they really are, and finds comedy in the fact that they are simply trying to get by in a workplace that makes that impossible.
If the program continues to be as incisive as it has been thus far, there are certain to be many more seasons to come. It’s one of the most nuanced and enduringly charming presentations of recent memory, thanks to its ability to locate comedy in the lives of teachers today. In a laugh-a-minute encounter, it never loses its sense of concentration and humorous timing. Throughout its lively and hilarious first season, it is a well-rounded comedy that never fails to strike the right note.