Quinta Brunson said she knew that she and executive producers Randall Einhorn and Patrick Schumacker had something special with Abbott Elementary. Since it premiered, the ABC comedy has made waves on social media and gained a passionate following.
“[The reception] is so humbling — it reminds you why you do this job,” she said. “We’re happy to have people love it too.”
During Sunday’s Contenders TV event, Brunson joined Einhorn and Schumacker to talk about how the show came together, the “genius” of breakout Janelle James and more. In Abbott Elementary, a group of dedicated, passionate teachers — and a slightly tone-deaf principal — are brought together in a Philadelphia public school where, despite the odds stacked against them, they are determined to help their students succeed in life. Although these incredible public servants might be outnumbered and underfunded, they love what they do, even if they don’t love the school district’s less-than-stellar attitude toward educating children.
Initially imagined as a cartoon series, Abbott Elementary also stars creator Brunson as dedicated teacher Janine Teagues. In addition to bringing her personal experiences to the series, Einhorn and Schumacker said Brunson brought a wide knowledge and appreciation of the comedy world to the show.
“Quinta has been … a lifelong student of comedy,” Schumacker said. “She has an encyclopedic knowledge of everyone and everything who came before her. … I have never seen someone have such deep knowledge and veneration for her forbearers.”
Brunson also spoke about the benefits of sharing her comedy through the accessibility of broadcast television.
“I love network television,” she said. “There’s TV for someone who can’t afford Netflix, or who can’t afford HBO. … It’s TV for someone in prison.”
The series’ main cast also includes Tyler James Williams, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Brunson serves as writer and executive produces alongside Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker as well as Randall Einhorn, who directed the pilot and the majority of Season 1 episodes. The series is produced by Warner Bros Television and 20th Television.
Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios and Michter’s. Partners include Desalto, Film AlUla, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Jason Mizrahi Design, ModMD, The American Pavilion, and Tidelli.