Why Ava Is Our Favorite Principal | Abbott Elementary | HBO Max

At first glance, Ava might be reminiscent of The Office’s branch manager, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), who was also often inappropriate, selfish, and outright cringeworthy. Or maybe Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s innovative, bombastic Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti). But in comparison, Ava is crafted with a certain precision: She doesn’t get better at her job or have a desire to. Over the 35 episodes aired so far, Ava’s disdain for being a principal hasn’t diminished. She’s still not great at it but has somewhat learned to embrace her colleagues’ attitudes.


James easily enforces Ava’s dynamics with those around her, whether bonding with Barbara and Melissa (already BFFs), showing respect to Mr. Johnson, or oddly rooting for Gregory and Janine’s relationship. (More on that in a minute.) She’s still highly distinctive and a lone figure in an ensemble setting. She wouldn’t dare talk to Janine outside work, as seen in season two’s 10th outing, when she bumps into Janine and Gregory at a club. But that doesn’t mean she’s averse to them—or vice versa—anymore. Not after she fought for the school’s budget, displayed a genuine affection for her students, and (once again) surprisingly championed Gregory and Janine’s relationship.

The latter is the most shocking, because Ava’s only discernible blemish is the volley of flirtatious comments toward Gregory throughout the show’s run. We’ve come a long way from Ava essentially calling him a stripper in the pilot to Ava’s effort to pair him up with Janine in the season-two finale, which aired on April 18. (ABC has already renewed the show for a third season.) The episode features the Abbott staff taking the children on an overnight trip to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. Ava teams Gregory with Janine, knowing they’re into each other. (She did see them sexily grind on each other at that club!). After Jacob (Perfetti), it’s safe to say Ava is their biggest shipper. Who would’ve thought?

While most of “Franklin Institute” follows the ebb and flow of Gregory and Janine’s relationship, Ava finds her moment to shine by scaring the kids and teaching them about aliens. But like we said, she’s come to appreciate the people around her, so she eventually manages to calm them down with Barbara’s help. In faithful Abbott and Ava fashion, season two ends with a humorous tag when Mr. Johnson temporarily (?) quits, relaying the information to Ava in her office as she’s busy filing and painting her nails. The actor uses her brief screen time in this scene to waddle away while staring directly at us. Or rather, at the documentary crew, but it superbly displays James’ comedic abilities. Never change, Principal Ava (or Janelle James). Never change.