Fresh off its Emmy wins, ‘Abbott Elementary’ is set for an A+ Season 2

After a big night at Monday’s Emmy Awards, the cast and crew of ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” immediately got back to work on the new season, making a read chart for an upcoming episode.

As the cast of the show explained on Wednesday during a Television Critics Association panel, they continued after the night of the festivities. On Monday, the show won awards for the show’s creator and showrunner, Quinta Brunson, as well as Brunson’s co-star, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who brought down the house with a legendary acceptance speech worthy of his legendary career.

“I feel like we kicked it off. I feel like everyone came to ride that wave, that tsunami of love. We were all a little tired, but that was the most great feeling in the world to come back,” said actor Chris Perfetti. “It was honestly the perfect way to come back down after that experience. It was amazing. There’s nowhere else I wanted to be. I was dying to get back to work, even though my brain was on fire.

Actor Tyler James Williams noted that it was especially meaningful to be able to celebrate with the show’s crew. “It felt like a really long day where when we walked in they also had a chance to celebrate because it’s just as much theirs as it is ours,” he said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Chris. I forgot how to act,” actress Lisa Ann Walter joked. “I walked up on set and was like, ‘What are we doing? Where am I standing? I don’t know how to do this.'”

The “Abbott Elementary” cast was full of their A+ repartee during the panel, previewing the second season of the workplace comedy and mockumentary, which is back in session next Wednesday on ABC. When the first season premiered in January, it became a smash hit, reinvigorating network television and workplace comedy. Following a group of teachers at an underfunded public school in Philadelphia, the show – inspired by Brunson’s mother, a teacher – was also celebrated for its loving tribute to teachers.

Chris Perfetti and Quinta Brunson in a scene from Season 1 of ‘Abbott Elementary.’

Ser Baffo/ABC via Getty Images

Drawing on her experience from the first season, Brunson told HuffPost that she wants to continue capturing what made the first season great, while juggling the logistical challenges of being so big the show will. became.

“What we learned from last season was to trust what we did. I think we did a really good job. We really have to be in that bubble and create this wonderful first season of television. “, she said. “And I think the lesson we learned was to do the exact same thing.”

Another new creative challenge is that the second season received a full season order: 22 episodes, compared to 13 in the first season.

“More episodes have been exciting. But also, I want to make sure we have things for people to tune in and get excited about every week. It’s just harder to do with 22,” Brunson said. “With 13, I knew I could put something in there that would make people show up in this ever-changing, binge-worthy climate. It’s not something that people will be able to binge immediately. So I just want to make sure they’re back with us every week we’re on the air.

The cast of ABC "Abbott Elementary School" during the Television Critics Association's virtual press tour on Wednesday.  Left to right: William Stanford Davis, Chris Perfetti, Janelle James, Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter.
The cast of ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” at the Television Critics Association’s virtual press tour on Wednesday. Left to right: William Stanford Davis, Chris Perfetti, Janelle James, Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter.

Additionally, she stated that “the first season was much easier to do because we were able to film, edit and write the majority of the season before it even aired. This year we will be in a situation different where we will continue to film, still write, when the show starts airing next week.

With the show’s success, in addition to juggling her many hats, Brunson said she had to turn some of her showrunning duties over to fellow executive producers Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker and executive producer and director Randall. Einhorn.

“Showrunning just got harder,” she said. “I really moved into creating and nothing else because that’s all I can do, because between acting and writing and showrunning and press and all, all that all I can do is focus on creating.”

Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph in a scene from the Season 2 premiere of "Primary Abbott."
Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph in a scene from the Season 2 premiere of ‘Abbott Elementary.’

The show has received widespread praise for its depiction of the inequalities facing teachers and public education. Brunson pointed out that she and the writers did not approach storylines with these issues in mind. Instead, their priority is finding comedic stories that fit each character, which then touch on what a school like Abbott Elementary would face in real life.

“We’re just looking to exploit the reality of the situation,” she said. “I’m thinking of an old trick I learned: If you put a $5 bill on the floor, every character on your show should pick it up differently. So I’m always like, ‘What the hell is the $5 bill? $5, and how does that affect everyone?’

The actors also discussed the fun energy they get from working with the kids who play the students on the show, and whether they think the actors are actually their teachers.

“One of the kids just asked me this today: ‘Are you going to be my teacher?’ I’m like, “More or less, of course,” Williams said. “They add a certain something to this show that you can’t find anywhere else because they’re not hyper-professional and they don’t try to plan their careers immediately. We get a lot of really fun energy. They are just as responsive in scenes as we are. And as an actor, that kind of keeps him from becoming stale.

“Sometimes they come out with crazy stuff,” added Walter. “I had a kid in my class who talked about interdimensional worlds and conflicting anti-heroes. I’m like, ‘How old are you?’ He’s 10! I said, ‘Everybody’s going to work for Preston one day.’ Yeah, they are amazing.

Tyler James Williams and Janelle James in a scene from the Season 2 premiere of "Primary Abbott."
Tyler James Williams and Janelle James in a scene from the Season 2 premiere of ‘Abbott Elementary.’

As always, Ralph stole the show, including when she described how her phone kept buzzing with messages in response to her Emmy win.

“It was so overwhelming. Since Monday, I’ve been on the verge of tears all day, all night. It was the most incredible thing. You know, people talk about your phone exploding. My phone completely blew up. It just kept happening,” she said. “I heard about the mayor, the governor, the prime minister. I’ve heard from all kinds of people, people I went to elementary school with, I went to middle school with, I went to high school with, the president of the university I went to.

She’s also heard from producers about previous projects during her storied career. “I also had to ask them, ‘Why didn’t you hire me again?’ But whatever!”

When asked if the prize was worth the wait, Ralph replied, “Hell yeah! Yes absolutely. Yes. Can I say it again? Yes!”

Season 2 of “Abbott Elementary” premieres Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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