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Review: “Abbott Elementary” Season 2 Premiere

by Emily Nagle

After a long summer, “Abbott Elementary” is back in session. The sophomore season of ABC’s mockumentary-style workplace comedy following an underfunded public school in Philadelphia premiered tonight at 9PM EST, and was watched by thousands of excited Twitter users who live-tweeted the episode under the hashtag #AbbottElementary. The show’s official Twitter account interacted with many of viewers’ tweets, is continuing to do so as the episode makes its premiere on the west coast a few hours later.

On the heels of a breakup with longtime boyfriend Tariq (Zack Fox), optimistic second-grade teacher Janine Teagues (Quinta Brunson) is returning to Abbott for development week, where she and her fellow teachers will prepare for the students’ return.

Stakes are high less than halfway through the episode as we watch Janine struggle to heal her broken heart; with her infectious positive attitude, Janine is always looking out for others (especially her students), but because of this she tends to forget to take care of herself as well. Instead of focusing on picking herself back up after the split, she’s irritated over incompetent principal Ava (Janelle James) hosting a tailgate in the school parking lot.

In only 18 minutes, Janine gets multiple parking tickets, faces a possible eviction due to Tariq barely paying rent, and accidentally books the wrong day for popular Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty to show up and welcome students back to school. It feels like the end of the world for Janine, until her coworkers – most notably her mentor Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and fellow second-grade teacher Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) – remind her that it’s okay to grieve.

Janine’s situation is depicted in a realistic way that’s sure to hit home for many viewers; overbooking is a common response to avoid coping with complicated feelings. Not to mention this is Janine’s first breakup (she started dating Tariq in eighth grade!), so she’s not quite sure how to deal with all these new emotions.

Now that Janine is single, one can only wonder what will happen between her and first-grade teacher Gregory (Tyler James Williams), who’s had eyes for Janine since the day they met. There’s 21 episodes left in this season, so only time will tell!

Episodes of the upcoming season of “Abbott Elementary” are set to premiere on ABC on Wednesdays at 9PM EST.