Last December I was sitting at home with nothing to do, so I did something I haven't done in years—I watched network TV. That night, ABC was running a mid-season entry into their lineup, a little show called Abbott Elementary. I watched the premiere with zero expectations, and I haven't missed an episode since.
I'm also not alone. The show has great ratings and also picks up millions of more views when it airs on Hulu.
It's told in the mockumentary sitcom style and was created by the multitalented Quinta Brunson, who also stars as a second-grade teacher at Abbott Elementary, a fictional school in Philadelphia. The show has amazing characters, grounded situations, and more laughs than I can even describe.
I think it's the best recent sitcom pilot in memory. That means we have a lot to learn from the words on the page!
Read and download the Abbott Elementary pilot script here!But do it for educational purposes only.
And after you read, come back here, and let's go over a few lessons I picked up from this amazing show.
3 Lessons from the Abbott Elementary Pilot Script PDF
1. Grounded Situations
One of the things I appreciate most about the show is that it takes a grounded look at teaching at an underfunded school. The pilot tells the story of needing school supplies, and not having enough money to get them.
This is a story many of us have heard before, but the charm and hilarity here takes a grounded premise and finds outside-the-box solutions. The situation in this situational comedy is relatable, and the solution of stealing rugs provides a lot of laughs and gets us to love these characters and their ingenuity.
2. Consistent Tone
A TV show about a school that's struggling in the inner city could be season four of The Wire, but this is one of the most endearing comedies in recent memory. How do they make something that we've usually seen treated in such dark ways so light?
The answer comes from the consistent tone. No matter what the situation is, they are always looking for the comedy beats inside the story. It's almost escapist, but while still talking about the reality of public schooling. This consistency allows the audience to rely on the laughs and allows the writers to keep delivering them.
3. Tell Your Story
Quinta Bruson, the comedic tornado behind this show, grew up in West Philadelphia. She was inspired by visiting her mother, who was a teacher in Philadelphia. They were at an open house and she saw the way the teachers interacted with each other, the parents, and the students. She knew that it was a great environment for a show and then spent time putting effort into writing and creating a show that celebrates teachers, students, and the situations they face every day.
When it comes time for you to write your TV comedy, think about your life. What do you know intimately? What do you care about? Bring that all to the screen. Make sure that matters.
Have you been watching? Let us know your thoughts.