In the wake of yet another mass shooting, it’s only natural to ask: is there anything we can say or do that will actually change the grim reality of American gun violence? An all-too-familiar feeling of helplessness may have us looking to unexpected places for leadership.
Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson has found herself in that position following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and she seems understandably uncomfortable with the situation. On Wednesday, she posted on Twitter: “Wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write. People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment.’ I can’t ask ‘are yall ok’ anymore because the answer is ‘no.’”
“Please use that energy to ask your elected official to get on Beto time and nothing less. I’m begging you,” she added in a follow up tweet. “I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this. We’re not okay. This country is rotting our brains. [I’m] sad about it.”
Later, Brunson posted an example of such a request, in which a viewer urged her to “Formulate an angle that would get our government to understand why such laws need to pass.” The fan–who suggested this idea for the “eventual series finale”!—wrote, “I think Abbott Elementary can affect change.”
And here’s one of the many flaws Brunson was attempting to highlight: if the deaths of actual, real-life children aren’t affecting change, how is a sitcom going to do it? There are Very Special Episodes about school shootings (or lockdown drills) out there, and none of them have moved the political needle.
Not to mention, why would anyone want to watch the adorable kids on Abbott Elementary go through something that traumatic? (You want that to be the series finale?!?) The appeal of the series is the unmitigated optimism. While Abbott may be realistic about the challenges of being a teacher, who really wants to see a school shooting through a sitcom lens?
While pleading with elected officials on this issue can feel about effective as banging your head against a wall, the solution is definitely not to slide into Quinta Brunson’s DMs. We all need a better outlet for these feelings.