It goes wild in the United States, has gone quietly in Italy and you can find it on Disney+ Star. We are talking about Abbott Elementary, the school comedy fresh from its Golden Globe 2023 victory. Let’s find out the secrets of her success.
The Golden Globes 2023 are back this year in presence after the scandal of the almost absent inclusiveness among the jurors and consequently in the voting. A few days before the awards ceremony and therefore the announcement of the winners, there are some serie who have emerged victorious. One of them is Abbott Elementarya work comedy that has garnered awards in its category: Best Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy, Best Supporting Actor.
A great recognition for a comedy that has reached its second season (therefore not an absolute novelty), little trumpeted by us but a real little big phenomenon overseas. The Awards are often an opportunity to go and recover titles that we didn’t know or had left aside. In this article we explain because Abbott Elementary is a must seethanks to the fact that we were unable to review it when it arrived.
Abbott Elementary is available with its first season on Star of Disney+ – the second won’t be long in coming after the chatter related to the Golden Globes and the third has just been ordered precisely because of the hoard of awards. It is a workplace comedy, or a series set in the workplace as it already is The Office, Brooklyn, Nine-Nine e Superstore to give three striking examples. Quinta Brunson, a new discovery among the authors of her generation, is both creator and interpreter, somewhat reminiscent of Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon in 30 Rock. She is Janine, a young elementary teacher recently hired at Abbott Elementary of the title in the poor neighborhood of Philadelphia. Shy and clumsy but with a big heart, full of dreams and good hopes, she must soon collide with the American school system, especially that of the less well-off neighborhoods, with its great difficulties, with the “sleight of hand” that teachers and school staff have to invent every day so as not to make their students feel shortcomings.
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Being an ensemble comedy, all the characters have to work and Abbott Elementary is a confirmation in this sense, so much so that it received the Emmy for Best Casting (Wendy O’Brien). In fact, filling the noisy school corridors is an almost totally black cast: substitute teacher and aspiring principal Greg (Tyler James Williams, who many will remember as a young Chris Rock in Everyone hates Chris and who won the Golden Globe here), Abbott’s religious veteran Barbara (Janelle James), whom Janine sees as her mentor, the truthful and sagacious Italian-American Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter), the shy gay history professor Jacob (Chris Perfetti), the terrible new principal Ava (Sheryl Lee Ralph), who got the job only for discovering the superintendent with her lover but doesn’t quite know what she’s doing and is more attentive to her following on TikTok, and Mr Johnson (William Stanford Davis), the school janitor who is also a born conspiracy theorist. From these few characteristics, one can already guess the enormous potential of the show for the comedy of misunderstandings and for encounters-clashes between characters, for their different characters and experiences and for winking at current work problems such as meritocracy or the precariat.
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The victory of Abbott Elementary, who had already won last year at the Emmythe Oscars of American TV, the Awards for Best Screenplay for Quinta Brunson and for Best Supporting Actress at Sheryl Lee Ralph, while Janelle James had also been nominated, with the hat-trick obtained at the Golden Globes she confirms her incisiveness in contemporary American culture. Of course, in part the award was certainly given because the show fit perfectly into the characteristics and post-scandal logic of the Award: the protagonist who is also the creator is black, as well as most of the cast, and the serial presents a constant social criticism on the American school system, which is actually little talked about on TV, except in the crimes and procedurals in some episodes dedicated to and set in school.
This double value has allowed the series to win against new chat and copyright as The Bear. Thanks to the style mockumentary who made the fortune of The Office before her, the comedy from Quinta Brunson’s pen, so familiar in the style of ABC, the Disney-owned channel that broadcasts it in the US, when caustic and irreverent in how it covertly criticizes today’s society in extremely intelligent way, within the unprecedented school setting. Even ending up talking about strong issues such as toxic masculinity, through Janine’s longtime boyfriend, Tariq, an aspiring rapper. However, the small big daily struggles of Abbott Elementary teachers remain at the center, who basically want to give a better future to their little students: it is the most beautiful message of hope we could ask for. What more do you want?
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