Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York. She's worked with clients like Instacart, Tailwind, Columbia, Esurance, and LifeLock.
Abbott Elementary, created by the show’s star, Quinta Brunson, is the half hour sitcom that follows second-grade teacher, Janine Teagues, as she navigates her second year at Willard R. Abbott Elementary, a low-budget school district in Philadelphia. The show offers up great commentary on the state of public education, but it also provides tons of laughs, often at Janine’s expense.
The cast of characters is equally funny, namely, the principal, Ava Coleman, who really shouldn’t be a principal at all, but lucked into the position when she caught the superintendent (who goes to her church) in a rather compromising position – cheating on his wife.
Long story short, now she’s the principal, beating out a fellow employee, Gregory Eddie, who was up for the position, but now is forced to work as a substitute teacher instead.
But before I give the entire show away, here are the top 10 funniest moments from Abbott Elementary.
1. When Janine Reveals She’s a Product of the Philadelphia School System
When speaking to the camera in her interview (this is a mockumentary-style show like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family), Janine tells the camera men that she’s a product of the Philadelphia School System.
Her next words? “I’m proud to say I survived and now teach here today.”
You can’t help but laugh at that statement, despite the harsh truth it reveals.
Just those simple words drum up images of horrible schools where the kids don’t listen, the textbooks are worn and years old (in the next scene, Janine had to tape a photo of Barak Obama into the textbook because it doesn’t reflect any of the newer presidents), and the resources are limited, to say the least.
She goes onto say that the city says it has no money for the school budget, yet they’re doing a multi-million-dollar renovation to the Eagles stadium right down the street.
2. The Episode Where They Get New Tablets and Barbara Can’t Keep Up
Anytime it’s old people versus technology, there’s a chance for comedic hilarity. And Abbott Elementary does a hell of a job with this episode.
In it, the school gets new tablets for the classrooms and the teachers of certain grade levels have to attend.
Barbara is shocked when they introduce the tech teacher and he’s an older man. Obviously, like most people, you’d expect it to be somebody young who knows which iPhone is the newest.
But the man who comes forward has salt and pepper hair on most of his head.
Barbara’s reaction is to ask, “You’re the tech teacher?”
To which he responds, “Sure am. Can’t keep us old folks down, right?”
This prompts an embarrassed look from Barbara, who probably doesn’t want to be associated with the aging (and definitely not called out for it).
When they actually get the tablets and are trying to find their way around them, the tech teacher comes by and shows them how to perform a task, but clearly, both Melissa and Barbara are completely lost.
When Janine asks how it’s going, Barbara responds, “Easy peesy.” But then the camera pans to her tablet screen, which reads, “You’ve attempted to log in too many times. Your account is now locked.”
In a later scene, Barbara is at her desk trying to figure out the tablet once again. In the process, she takes a selfie and then asks, “Now, who took that picture?”
You can’t help but guffaw at the antics that follow.
Janine enters the classroom to see how it’s going with the new program on her tablet.
Barbara admits, “Oh, it’s a little hard to understand, but I’m getting the hang of it.”
Meanwhile, the camera flashes back to her tablet screen, which is still stuck on the selfie she just unknowingly took.
Janine says, “Okay. Just wanted to check in in case this was tricky for you. You know, I grew up with this stuff and it gets me sometimes. I somehow lost my crypto wallet. But you come from a different generation, and so it would be totally understandable if you were having trouble with it.”
Barbara states adamantly, “Are you kidding me? I’m Miss Tech, you know. I love tech. Shop at the App Store. Got a Hotmail. I once even rode in a Tesla. I’m already ahead on the first couple of lessons.”
Janine asks to see and Barbara quickly smacks the tablet against her chest, refusing, telling her that she’s disturbing her students who are taking a nap.
Once Janine finally leaves, Barbara takes a stab at it herself, but is clearly struggling.
So, she decides to fudge the reports on the tablet and then the principal thinks her kindergartners are reading at a fourth grade reading level.
Janine suggests that since Barbara’s doing so well with her students, maybe she should give a presentation to the rest of the teachers to show them what she did.
I won’t give away what happens, but you need to go watch it on ABC or Hulu.
3. When Fellow Teacher Melissa Schementi Introduces Herself to the Camera
Lisa Ann Walter plays Melissa Schementi, a second-grade teacher at Abbott Elementary, although you might think she just stepped out of an Italian ganger movie. She’s tough, no-nonsense and tells it like it is.
But one of her funniest moments in the first episode is when she’s introducing herself to the camera people. She tells them her name is simply, “Melissa” at first, like she doesn’t want to reveal her last name or something. Running from the mob, Melissa?
The camera flashes back to her teaching her class. She’s teaching them math. Here’s what she says: “What’s half of 100?”
To which the children reply, “50!”
Her response: “Also, $100 known as a C-Note.” Hilarious!
Then, it flashes back to her interview with the cameramen. And she asks if their Italian, then Sicilian, then asks if he’s from South.
When she gets no response, she blurts out, “Okay, you guys working with the cops? ‘Cause you gotta tell me.” What kind of teacher is this??! Ha ha!
4. When Principal Ava Reveals She’s the One Who Brought in the Camera Crew
Casually strutting into the breakroom with some of the teachers, Ava, the principal, asks the teachers what they think about her bringing in the camera crew.
Melissa replies, “Distracting, makes our jobs harder.”
Ava replies, “But exciting. We ‘bout to be on TV.”
Barbara snaps back with, “Because they are covering underfunded, poorly managed public schools in America.”
Stupidly, Ava responds, “No press is bad press, Barb. Look at Mel Gibson. Still thriving.”
Face palm emoji.
And she only gets funnier and more ridiculous with her antics as the show goes on.
5. When Ava (And the Teachers) First Meet the Sub
In the first episode, after a teacher kicks a student, a sub comes in to replace her. And it’s nonother than Tyler James Williams (you might know him from Everybody Hates Chris), playing Gregory Eddie.
What makes this interaction so hilarious is that Ava’s unprofessionalism is oozing at this point (we’ve already seen a few of her bad decisions as a principal) when she makes the decision to utter the words, “Oh, you’re the sub. Forgive me. I thought one of my colleagues here hired a stripper for me.”
To which, Greg responds, “Okay.”
It’s hilariously awkward and you can’t help but crack up at his apparent discomfort.
While Barbara tells him it’s nice to meet him, wise-cracking Melissa calls him by the wrong name. When he corrects her, she responds with, “Eh, let’s see how long you’ll be here. Then I’ll remember your name. Okay, Tim?”
You gotta love the first-day hazing from Melissa and the inappropriateness of Ava.
6. When Janine’s Boyfriend (The Rapper) Writes a Rap for the Students About Not Doing Drugs
When we’re introduced to Janine’s boyfriend, Tariq, it’s obvious he’s a rapper because he’s making Janine listen to a song that took him all of 15 minutes to record the previous night.
After he’s asked to perform at the school for a Don’t Do Drugs campaign, he comes up with an uproarious rap that’s both catchy and makes you do a double take once you hear the outrageous lyrics. Although they’re kid-friendly, they’re still pretty funny to hear.
Not to mention that the drug program is called F.A.D.E. instead of D.A.R.E., the program we all remember as kids. F.A.D.E. stands for Friends Against Drug Exposure.
The opening line goes, “Crack, weed, dope, meth, y’all don’t want no smoke. Oxys, percs, Vic, bleep them pills, you don’t wanna coke.” And yes, he actually says the word “bleep” because he can’t curse at an elementary school.
He also encourages them to “get their tiny hands up” throughout the song.
7. When Ava Casually Mentions She’s a Doomsday Prepper
It’s the last thing you’d expect when you look at her, but Ava is, in fact, a doomsday prepper. She reveals that in episode three when the teachers are all in the lounge and she comes in to use the teacher’s granola while they, “talk about their little Hondas” (Ava).
She tells them she needs the granola for her earthquake kit. When Jacob, one of the few male teachers at the school, tells her there are no earthquakes there.
Her response is, “That’s what everybody says until they wake up and their kitchen is across the street.” Like, what?
But it gets funnier.
She follows that up with, “Some of y’all need to open your eyes to the real and constant threat of global catastrophe,” before her attention span jolts her out of that conversation and she quickly asks Janine, “Ooh, are you on Tik Tok?”
But it doesn’t stop there.
After Janine answers affirmatively, Ava asks, “Did you see my video that I did about softening elbows? I did it to the tune of ‘Black and Yellow.’ Soften elbows, soften elbows.” She laughs and then says, “Pretty clever” about her own video.
God, this woman is hysterical! I could watch an entire show with just her reacting to stuff and it’d still be amusing.
I don’t know where they found that lady, but she’s funny AF. (Can’t wait to see what more she does in her career.)
8. When Ava Agrees to Help Ava with Her Wish List Video for Tik Tok
Episode three, “The Wishlist,” is particularly funny in a few ways.
First, is when Janine asks Ava for help with her wish list, a list of items teachers ask the community for in hopes of getting those items for their classroom. It’s a way of supplementing what they already get using the school budget.
When Janine goes to Ava to ask for help, handing Ava her phone, Ava rudely blurts out, “Ew. What is this an iPhone 9?” She laughs and then continues, “It’s like a Walkman.” Laughs again and says, “I don’t know nothing ‘bout this. That’s before my time.” Hair flip, tries to look cute, smiling at the camera.
After watching the video Janine made for her wishlist, Ava simply says, “Ugh.”
Before the conversation ends, Ava tells her all of the resources she’ll use to help her make the video. Then asks, “Can you twerk? You don’t look like you can, but I could be wrong.” Deadpan expression directly at the camera.
But later when she actually makes the video, with footage of Barbara teaching, the voiceover says, “Hello. I am Barbara Howard, oldest teacher at the poorest school in America.”
She also casts some of Barbara and Janine’s students to be in the video (under aliases), telling Janine that one of the little girls in the video couldn’t act, saying, “She couldn’t do it, and then I pulled out a dollar and that little girl was Viola Davis.”
But to top it all off, when Janine tells Ava that they can’t possibly post this video, her reply is, “It’s up and out. And it’s hot. These are Only Fans numbers. I usually gotta show feet to go this viral.”
There’s more, but I’ll let you watch the show to see how funny it is for yourself.
BONUS: When Ava Flirts with the Sub in Episode Two
We already know Ava is uproariously and outrageously inappropriate being that she’s the principal of Abbott Elementary, but the lines she crosses in her relationships with her colleagues/subordinates is borderline harassment.
Okay, it’s straight up harassment the way she talked to Mr. Eddie after they briefly discuss a woman who constantly drops her son off to class at 9:00 when school starts at 8:00.
Ava lets him know that. She also tells him, “It’s a school requirement.”
He responds, “Understood.”
She comes back with, “That’s the sixth time in two weeks that kid’s been late. Seems like a drop in a bucket, but then…that bucket overflows and everything gets sticky. We don’t wanna get sticky, do we?”
She then stares at him seductively as she stirs her cup of coffee. You gotta see the look on her face, though.
The camera then pans to his solo interview and with wide eyes, he asks, “Y’all are getting this, right?!”
What were your favorite moments from Season 1? And who's excited for Season 2? Let me know in the comments.