“Abbott Elementary”—Episode 21 Review

Story posted April 20, 2023 in

his episode this week is a wild ride, and thank goodness for that. Episode 21 of Abbott Elementary is clocked in and working overtime.

The episode opens with Jacob performing a magic trick and greatly entertaining Ava. Honestly, a healthy and warm introduction to this episode. We never see happy interactions between Jacob and Ava!

In the teachers’ lounge, Janine informs everyone that she is taking a “girl trip”. This is a vacation by herself to Ocean City, staying in a nice hotel in Maryland. Janine has been saving her money for this trip, taking a breather and getting a massage

Honestly, this is good for Janine. She’s been through a lot this season: a breakup, a kiss with a coworker and a revengeful sister. She truly deserves a weekend away.

Shortly after this scene, we get interactions between Gregory, Jacob, and the lunch lady Shanae. Naturally, G-Man (Jacob’s nickname for Gregory) is confused and doesn’t believe Jacob is friends with Shanea. However, in a turn of events Jacob and Shanea are very close friends!

Gregory cannot seem to befriend Shanea, and this gains us new insight into Gregory and his lack of “small talk”. This is almost embarrassing for Gregory, how can you be an adult without knowing how to make small talk?

The primal part of the episode begins to take place. Janine’s mother comes to visit her in the middle of the school day. This is wild. We have never met Janine’s mother, we never expected to, and we as the viewers never deserved this. This shocking entrance of Janine’s mother is almost comparable to finding out Chandler Bing’s father was a drag queen.

Janine’s mother, Vanetta, is practically Ava’s cousin based on looks and personality. We later find out that Vanetta and Ava regularly go to the same club and dance at the same table. Not shocking at all, most shocking that this woman gave birth to Janine.

Janine is thrilled that her mother has come to visit her, even if it is a surprise. Janine has been begging her mother to see her at work, so this is a dream come true for Janine. Vanetta, we learn later, has ulterior motives for appearing at Abbott Elementary.

Barbara meets Vanetta, and you can immediately see the realization come across her face. Janine has a bad mom, Janine considers Barbara her “work mother”, and now this action from Janine is extremely valid. Barbara immediately begins to enter mom mode and become protective of Janine, thank goodness for this.

Vanetta begins to discuss her new job and financial issues with Janine. The audience can already understand that Vanetta is here to borrow money from Janine, not love her and visit her at school. The audience has every right now to hate Vanetta: stealing money from her daughter AND dancing at the club with Ava?

A couple of scenes later we see Barabara catch Vanetta stealing things from the teacher's lounge. Barbara stands her ground and has a discussion with Vanetta about stealing money from Janine. Vanetta clearly acts defensive, and gives phenomenal one-liners: “Barabara, this is a family matter. I don’t remember seeing you at the cookout”.

Luckily, Janine maturely handles the situation and comes to a conclusion with her mother and her financial issues. This decision sees Vanetta exit the school building (and hopefully never come back). Barbara, still in her mom mode, asks Janine if she has important items for her trip to Ocean City (cash, swimsuit cover-up). Janine has neither, and Barabar suggests they go to Ross because they’re having a sale.

We finally get a wholesome mother-and-daughter moment between Janine and Barabara outside of the school. The picture of them shopping at Ross is the most beautiful image possible. Everyone should email Hulu and request those scenes in the next episode.

We’re not done. On the way out, Gregory asks Janine where she's going. Janine states she's heading to her car and going home for the day. Gregory, who states he is not going to his car and is not yet going home for the day, decides to walk her to her car. There is absolutely no need for this action BUT HE DID IT. We absolutely cannot forget this moment. This scene is a cinematic piece of art for Gregory and Janine lovers.

Overall, this episode is very good. We learn a lot about the characters, gain backstory and also get the warm moments between Gregory & Janine and Barabara & Janine. I would rewatch this episode, and honestly, it’s important to the plot of Janine’s life.

Rating: 4/5

Grace Bowman is a second-year majoring in biology. To contact her, email gab5585@psu.edu.