“Abbott Elementary” - S2 Episode 2 Review
The second episode of “Abbott Elementary” illustrates something the show does very well: shining a bright light on the inequalities in the American education system.
In the episode, some new textbooks are delivered to the school, textbooks so new that they mention the Broadway play, “Hamilton,” a win for millennials everywhere. The teachers soon realize that books this new must be meant for the fancy charter school down the street, not Abbott.
During their lunch break, they decide to pay the charter school a visit while delivering the books to them. While there, they quickly see that this school is much nicer than their own workplace due to the fact that charter schools have more money than public schools.
While visiting, the gang also meets a woman who Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) seems to really dislike, but she doesn’t explain it.
Seeing the difference between the two schools prompts Janine, played by Quinta Brunson, to try to convince the others that they should use the school’s grant money on a new computer for the library.
She is quickly shut down, however, as Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and Melissa tell her that that money is going to be used for cleaning supplies. And also that the school library doesn’t even have a librarian.
Ava decides to create her own version of “Shark Tank,” and has the teachers pitch what they want to do with the grant money. To do so, Ava enlists the help of the janitor, Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis) and everyone’s favorite little menace, Courtney.
In this episode, we also learn more about the state of Gregory’s relationship with Barbara’s daughter, Taylor. The two had started dating when she came last season to visit her mother.
While figuring out how he feels about Taylor, Gregory gets advice from Mr. Johnson and Jacob, which doesn’t seem like the best group of people to take advice from.
Later in the episode, we learn that Abbott has developed a mice problem, and the grant money now has to go towards an exterminator. But Ava comes up with a good way to keep morale up and save the day.
Eventually, we also learn that the woman from the other elementary school that Melissa seemed to hate is actually her sister, which shocks all of her colleagues.
This episode allows Quinta Brunson to really shine in her role. Janine’s ability to find the bright side of everything no matter how dark is amazing, and Brunson really brings this to life.
In a show that has such a stellar cast, it can be hard to choose standout performances, but it is especially difficult when Sheryl Lee Ralph is on the screen. Ralph continues to give such excellent performances that it is almost hard to decide who else on the screen is doing the same.
One issue with this episode, however, is that the cold open is the best part, which kind of makes the rest of the episode not seem as great. This is an unfortunate consequence of having one of the funniest cold opens in television history, which this episode does.
In the cold open, we learn that Barbara is always confusing the names of white and black celebrities, and all of the other characters just let her think she knows who she’s talking about.
Abbott Elementary is truly such a good show, and does a great job of illustrating issues in the public education system while also making the audience laugh out loud. This episode is another great example of how this show is bringing back the traditional network sitcom.
Izzy Charboneau is a second-year student majoring in journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.