Quinta Brunson, writer of “Abbott Elementary,” didn’t expect her brainchild to blow up so fast. The mockumentary was based on her high school years, and it focused on a group of teachers in a highly underfunded school.
Brunson plays Janine, a poor school teacher who genuinely loves her students and will do whatever she can for them, including grabbing a ladder to fix a faulty lightbulb in the hallway or buying a new rug with money from her pocket. Her character was supposedly meant to be a minor character but was pushed to the center as the series developed.
Although her character has the charisma and the serve, she also has her dark side, stemming from her lack of friends in childhood and an inability to potty-train while she was a child.
“In my experience, the most optimistic people in my life who keep me going and cheer me up. They often have some stuff they’ve been through in their life that they’ve either had to bounce back from or are dealing with,” She explained. “And Janine is also 25. She does not have it all together.”
Brunson Is Overwhelmed By The Success of the Mockumentary
Owing to its vast fanbase and reception, “Abbott Elementary” became the first ABC show to quadruple its ratings since its inception. According to her, she didn’t expect massive support.
“To have only had a few episodes air and just for it to be an abundance of love, conversation, and just enjoyment of the show is just so, like, I don’t know. I am just so happy, so overwhelmed,” she explained to Harpers Bazaar. “It was weird to feel like I had to pull back from Twitter because of too much positivity. I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with so many nice messages and nice comments.'”
She added, “I’m a child of the internet, but at the end of the day, ratings are still a huge indicator in how successful a network perceives a show to be. After the first episode premiered, ABC was like, ‘Whoa! These are the numbers!’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t care! But now I have to care.'”
However, Brunson is excited for what the next season has in store. “I think everyone is so used to binging TV now, but we’re not even in the middle of our season,” says Brunson. “There’s so much more for people to see that I hope they enjoy.”
Where Did She Draw Inspiration From?
Brunson was inspired by TV shows like “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “The Fresh Prince.”
“My love for TV is endless,” she mentioned. However, she also mentioned that the exact inspiration for the mockumentary came to her when she visited her mom.
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“She was staying at school late for a parent-teacher conference, and I went to her school to spend more time with her. I went to the same school she taught when I was younger, so it wasn’t that foreign, but it had been a while since I had been in a room with her because I’d moved to Los Angeles.
I’m simultaneously getting upset because we’re here so late, and no parents have come in. Then at 7:59, a parent comes in. I was even more upset. But this parent was a nurse, and she brought her son in with her. And my mom was so happy that this parent came because she wanted to talk to them. Seeing that beautiful moment of my mom sitting there having this parent-teacher conference while her student played with blocks in the corner, and I was sitting at my mom’s desk and watching all the characters from her school come in and out of the room. That was the moment where I was like, ‘I think I wanna make a show about this.'”
Fans Say ‘Abbott Elementary’ Is Similar To ‘The Office’
The show’s beauty is its masterful adoption of the mockumentary format, which is a tad similar to that of “The Office.” They have not been shy about comparing Brunson’s show to the award-winning series, as the typical synopsis seen so far is “Oh my god, this is like ‘The Office’ but with Black people.”
However, Brunson accepts all comparisons in good faith, stating that they were said out of love.
“I feel like those comparisons are, for the most part, out of love,” she says. “They’re good-faith comparisons. ‘The Office,’ first of all, it was one of the biggest shows on television, and so it makes sense to be compared to it. I think that mockumentary shows, there haven’t been that many of them, and that’s kind of it.”
Nonetheless, she’s confident that, in due time, fans will come to see “Abbott Elementary” as one of a kind.
“I believe by the end of the season, it’ll be determined that what you’re seeing on ‘Abbott,’ you can’t get anywhere else.”
It Was Originally Pitched As An Animation
In her interview with PopSugar, Brunson disclosed that her series was initially pitched as an animation. However, the decision was rescinded due to some reasons.
“It was because I wasn’t available to be in anything live-action, or even dedicate time to creating something live-action because I was on another project,” she explained. “The idea as a cartoon would take some time to develop and animate, and it’d be a while before it would come out. But then, as time went on and ‘Abbott Elementary’ came back to the forefront, it made sense to do it as live-action, and I’m so happy we did it that way.”
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