Abbott Elementary, an ABC show written, produced by and starring Quinta Brunson, thoroughly proved itself during the 2023 awards season.
The show had 66 nominations and won 46 awards, including three Emmys, two Critics Choice awards and three Golden Globes.
While the show no longer holds the same novelty in its second season, it continues to develop its characters and highlight the struggles public schools face.
The main plot lines in season 2 revolve around an attempt to convert Abbott into a charter school, the relationship between characters Gregory Eddie and Janine Teagues, and all of the teachers as they continue to evolve and adapt to the school.
One of the most interesting relationships in the first season was between second-grade teacher Teagues, played by Brunson, and kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard, played by Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Teagues looks up to Howard and often considers her to be a mentor and maternal figure.
But Howard is not quite as enthusiastic about Teagues at the start of the second season. In all fairness, Teagues is a very idealistic person, sometimes to the point of being unrealistic and annoying.
In the second season, Howard begins to take Teagues under her wing. She comforts Teagues when a parent calls her a terrible teacher and stands up for her when her mother comes to town asking for money.
Teagues herself transforms during the second season of the show. While she is still constantly concerned with doing the “right” thing and making the school “better,” she also becomes more realistic about and for the sake of her students.
With the help of her friend Erica, Teagues also grows in her personal life. After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend at the end of the first season, she takes a step back to reevaluate herself.
Teagues becomes a lot more comfortable with her sexuality, as shown in the 10th episode of the season, “Holiday Hookah.” She and Erica run into Eddie at a hookah bar, and while Teagues seems uncomfortable for a little while, she grows into herself during the episode.
Rather than her normal school personality, we are able to see a more human side to Teagues and Eddie. They have fun at the bar, and Teagues even meets someone who she later starts casually dating.
This episode also marks a huge change in Teagues and Eddie’s relationship, which comes when they flirt and dance with each other. However, both end up dating other people throughout the season.
The pair kiss at a teacher conference in episode 16 while Teagues is dating someone, but decides not to move forward with their relationship in the season finale because Teagues needs to work on herself.
While I can understand the will-they-won’t-they trope, and that Teagues does need to develop some independence, I don’t like it.
Following shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where the main couple is in a stable, healthy relationship, the dynamic between Teagues and Eddie feels overused.
I would much rather see the relationship between teacher Melissa Schemmenti, played by Lisa Ann Walter, and her boyfriend Gary develop in a more fleshed-out way.
It feels like the plot of each episode, and the charter school plotline, fall to the side while the show tries to focus on Teagues and Eddie. Yes, Teagues is the main character, and yes, teaching is not her whole identity.
But I wanted to see more of the dynamic between her and Howard. I wanted to see more of the charter school plotline.
The charter school plotline features Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. as Draemond Winding, a man trying to convert every school in Philadelphia into a charter school.
This plot starts in the first episode, picks up in the seventh, but then disappears until episode 17. It feels like the middle of the season dropped any semblance of caring about the charter school issue, but then remembered it had to be resolved in the last few episodes.
The change to charter schooling was supposed to be a big deal, but it ends up only really being considered in four of the 22 episodes of the second season.Abbott Elementary seems to forget itself a little bit in the second season. There are still witty one-liners from janitor Mr. Johnson and Principal Ava Coleman, but it doesn’t feel like the show is still about the school and the teachers. It feels too reliant on the dynamic between Teagues and Eddie, and I don’t know if that’s something I want to keep watching.