Abbott Elementary schooled every other network comedy series when it debuted in December 2021. Quinta Brunson’s series about an underfunded Philadelphia public school pulled in massive Nielsen ratings, drew praise from critics and, crucially, won over the sort of perpetually online audience that championed shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation. In fact, Abbott Elementary experienced such a rapid rise in popularity that you’d be forgiven if you had difficulty keeping up. To help you out, we’ve put together a quick syllabus with everything you need to know before class begins in season two.
Abbott Elementary season two starts September 21 and will air every Wednesday at 9 PM ET/PT on ABC. Episodes will be available to stream on Hulu the following day.
Abbott Elementary season one packed a lot of character and world-building into its 13 episodes. The series centers on Janine Teagues (Brunson), who’s been teaching second grade at Willard R. Abbott Elementary School in Philadelphia for one year. Janine’s relentless optimism is sometimes dampened by veteran kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph), though Janine still looks up to her.
Throughout the first season, Janine, Barbara, second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter), history teacher Jacob Hill (Chris Perfetti), and substitute teacher Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams) have to contend with chaotically inept principal Ava Coleman (Janelle James), who only got the job because she’s been blackmailing the superintendent. (In fact, Gregory applied for the principal job but was passed over for Ava.) At the end of season one, Ava’s blackmail material becomes public, putting her position in question. Surprisingly, the Abbott Elementary teachers go to bat for her and Ava retains her job, so viewers can expect more of her antics in season two.
On a personal side, Janine has been having relationship troubles; she’s been dating the same guy since she was in eighth grade, but they break up at the end of season one, leaving the door open for Janine to explore a possible new relationship with Gregory.
Over the course of Abbott Elementary season two’s 22 episodes, viewers will follow along as Janine finds herself single for the first time in 10 years. Gregory joins the school’s staff as a full-time teacher, and Melissa has to contend with 10 extra students being added to her class. Viewers can also expect to see more of the teachers’ personal lives outside of school.
Looking to expand your knowledge beyond the basic curriculum? This information isn’t crucial to understanding Abbott Elementary for season two, but it might earn you a few extra points during class discussions.
Abbott Elementary received seven nominations at the 2022 Emmy Awards, and won three: Quinta Brunson won for Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, Sheryl Lee Ralph won for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series, and Wendy O’Brien won for Outstanding Casting For A Comedy Series. Ralph’s acceptance speech was a highlight of the night, and she became only the second Black woman to win in that category (the first was Jackée Harry for 227 in 1987).
The show also picked up four Television Critics Association Awards, including Program Of The Year, Outstanding Achievement In Comedy, Outstanding New Program, and Outstanding Individual Achievement In Comedy for Quinta Brunson.