More Culture:

January 26, 2022

'Abbott Elementary' quadruples initial ratings after airing of premiere episode

The mockumentary-style sitcom about an underfunded Philadelphia public school has received widespread acclaim

TV Sitcoms
Abbott Elementary Ratings Prashant Gupta/ABC

Quinta Brunson's Philly-based mockumentary "Abbott Elementary" became the first ABC comedy to quadruple the ratings of its pilot episode after its original premiere, according to a recent Deadline report. The show has received widespread critical and audience acclaim since its December 2021 premiere.

Quinta Brunson's hit sitcom "Abbott Elementary" has been widely praised by audiences since it premiered on Dec. 6, 2021, and it seems that viewers still just can't get enough.

Deadline reported on Tuesday that the show has become the first ABC comedy to quadruple its initial ratings since it had originally aired. After 35 days, the program has seen a 300% increase among both its network and digital viewership. 

Brunson stars in the sitcom as Jeanine Teagues, a bubbly second grade teacher at Abbott Elementary who is relentless in trying to get funding for her classroom. 

Alongside a small ensemble of teachers and school administrators, she comes up with creative ways to help (or hinder) the school's chances at receiving extra money. 

A newer teacher, Jeanine appears as a foil to Sheryl Lee Ralph's Barbara Howard, a veteran kindergarten teacher who often provides Jeanine with "tough love" in her quests. Barbara Howard is based on Brunson's mother, who taught as a kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia's public schools for 40 years. 

The mockumentary-style sitcom has performed well in Philly, receiving special recognition from City Council on Jan. 20, when they congratulated Brunson for her success with the show and its portrayal of the city's public schools. 

It has gathered a particular hold on Philadelphia culture, between a Jim Gardner cameo in one of its first episodes, to a clip of Jeanine teaching her students Philly slang as sight words they can read without having to sound out. 

Brunson's take on public education has received praise from other locally born creatives, including Questlove

In an "Abbott Elementary" review written by Chicago public school teacher Aureilius Raines II, he said that Jeanine reminds him of himself as a young teacher – ambitious, overworked, and constantly convinced that things will improve for her school and her students if she just works harder. 

Raines notes that the best part of the show is that, although a workplace comedy descended from "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation," it places the blame of underfunding on the system, rather than on the teachers or students themselves. He says this helps audiences support it as a realistic and funny depiction of public education. 

In the second episode of the series, fellow Abbott Elementary teacher Melissa Schemmenti (played by Lisa Ann Walter) reassures Jeanine when asked if she really cares about the children. Earlier in the episode, Jeanine passed out after spending much of the day trying to repair a flickering light bulb that made students uncomfortable. 

"It's the opposite," Schemmenti says. "We care so much we refuse to burn out. If we burn out, who's there for the kids?" 

"Abbott Elementary" has consistently performed well on ABC since its premiere, topping its 9 p.m. hour each week. It has outperformed both "FBI: International" on CBS and "Our Kind of People" on FOX during that primetime slot. 

"Abbott Elementary" airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC, and is available to stream on Hulu the following day. 

Below are some social media responses from the latest episode of "Abbott Elementary."