'Abbott Elementary' Season 2 review: Quinta Brunson's comedy sensation is still as funny (and relevant) as ever

Tech 21-9-2022 Mashable 30
A group of teachers sitting on a school bus.

It's only appropriate that Abbott Elementary Season 2 opens with an excited shriek.

That shriek belongs to Janine Teagues (Abbott Elementary's Emmy-winning creator Quinta Brunson). "I'm so sorry," she apologizes to the documentary crew filming her. "I'm just so happy to be back."

No apology needed, Janine. An excited outburst is the best way to celebrate Abbott Elementary's return. Fresh off its Emmy wins, including Brunson's win for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Sheryl Lee Ralph's for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Abbott Elementary is back in session with no sign of a sophomore slump in sight. The two episodes made available to critics are as warmly witty as Abbott Elementary's first season, with the promise of exciting new story developments in the coming episodes.

SEE ALSO: From 'The Office' to 'Abbott Elementary', here's how to make the perfect mockumentary

Abbott Elementary loses none of its momentum in Season 2

A group of teachers gather around a cardboard box.
All your faves are here. Credit: ABC / Gilles Mingasson

Even though Abbott Elementary has been off the air for a few months, the first episode of Season 2 will make you feel like you never left. The staff of Abbott returns to school for development week after a summer away, and while they're eager to kick things off with positive change, old patterns threaten to derail new plans. Principal Ava (Janelle James) is already running a disruptive side hustle, Gregory's (Tyler James Williams) intensity and perfectionism cause his stress levels to skyrocket before the students even arrive, and Janine's overenthusiastic preparations hide the true consequences of her recent breakup.

Each episode deftly combines and re-combines groups of Abbott's teachers so we continue to get an in-depth sense of how everyone relates to — and cares for — each other. These combinations are made even better by the fact that Abbott Elementary continues to have one of the best comedic ensembles on TV. I will never tire of watching the oh-so-different energies of Gregory and Jacob (Chris Perfetti) collide, nor will you ever be able to convince me that Barbara (Ralph) and Melissa's (Lisa Ann Walter) chemistry as veteran teachers is anything less than perfect.

SEE ALSO: Sheryl Lee Ralph shares the important advice Robert De Niro gave her 30 years ago

Abbott Elementary expands its world

A man and woman shake hands over a copier.
A treat for all the Gregory/Janine shippers out there. Credit: ABC / Gilles Mingasson

With Season 1, Abbott Elementary established itself as a powerhouse. In Season 2, it begins to broaden its horizons — and its cast. Scene-stealer William Stanford Davis, who plays janitor Mr. Johnson, has been elevated to series regular, giving him more chances to interact with other characters and more involvement in main storylines. New guest stars include Leslie Odom Jr., Lauren Weedman, and Keyla Monterroso Mejia.

Elsewhere, a new charter school near Abbott opens up new possibilities, like an inter-school rivalry. Janine definitely sees the charter school, with its computer lab and fully operational restrooms, as a threat. New lofty schemes to improve Abbott arise, although as always, it's idealist Janine vs. the more practical teachers who have been around for longer, like Barbara and Melissa.

The arrival of the charter school continues to emphasize one of Abbott Elementary's most important and poignant threads: how teachers in underfunded public schools dedicate their lives to giving their students the best education possible. Throughout even these two episodes, we see time and time again how Janine and her fellow teachers go the extra mile to make sure every student is supported and accommodated. Abbott Elementary is, as always, laugh-out-loud funny. But it's this emphasis on the reality of teaching that will ensure it endures.

Season 2 of Abbott Elementary premieres at 9 a.m. ET on Sept. 21 on ABC, with new episodes every Wednesday. Episodes will be streaming every Thursday on Hulu.


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