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November 08, 2021

Quinta Brunson to star as Philly public school teacher in new ABC comedy 'Abbott Elementary'

The show is based loosely upon the experiences of the comedian's mother, who worked in the city's public education system for 40 years

TV Quinta Brunson
Abbott Elementary Quinta Brunson Prashant Gupta/ABC

'Abbott Elementary' tells the story of a group of Philly school teachers and staff who are trying to educate their students while navigating the everyday challenges of working in an underfunded school district.

A fictional Philadelphia public school will serve as the setting for a new ABC comedy series debuting next month, with actress Quinta Brunson in the lead role.

"Abbott Elementary" is a workplace comedy that tells the story of teachers and staff at Willard R. Abbott School in Philadelphia who are seeking to educate their students while navigating the everyday challenges of working in an underfunded district.

The show's main character, second grade teacher Janine Teagues, is played by the West Philly native Brunson. The cast also includes Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph, the wife of Philly state Sen. Vincent Hughes.

A new trailer for the series released last week shows that it could be very similar to other workplace comedies, like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation." It's also clear that the show will include plenty of cultural references to Philadelphia. 

The teaser features a scene in which Brunson's character is pointing to a whiteboard and teaching her students how to say words like "cheesesteak," "hoagie" and "jawn." Ralph's character, Barbara Howard, is walking by the classroom as this lesson is taking place and steps inside to inform Teagues to stop.

"This is a classroom. Not a hoagie stand," Ralph's character says.

"Abbott Elementary" was created and written by the 31-year-old Brunson, who said it is loosely based upon her mother's 40-year teaching career in the School District of Philadelphia.

"It's a fun show," Brunson told guest host Wanda Sykes on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" this past July. "It's a straight-up comedy, which is what I'm excited about too. We're dealing with everyday people and their work situations that they love, which may not be the best situations to us. But people do the job of teacher because they want to do it, because they can do it, because they're good at it." 

Filming for the show's 13-episode first season wrapped Friday, Brunson said. "Abbott Elementary" will premiere Dec. 7 at 9:30 p.m. on ABC and air regularly at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays starting Jan. 4. Episodes will be available to stream the following day on Hulu.

Brunson became famous after her online videos went viral and turned her Quinta B. character into a meme. The comedian then went on to help create viral videos for BuzzFeed and the "Quinta vs. Everything" web series for Facebook.

The former Temple University student has also starred on HBO's "The Black Lady Sketch Show" and lent her voice to Netflix's adult animated comedy series "Big Mouth."

Brunson released her first book earlier this year, called "She Memes Well," which contains a collection of personal essays about her rise to comedic stardom.

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