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Asking Quinta Brunson to Write a School Shooter Finale for ‘Abbott Elementary’ Is Not the Teachable Moment You Think It Is

I promise you, "Abbott Elementary" can sit this one out.

After a negative teacher review, Janine gets a confidence boost when a student gets transferred from Melissa's class into hers

On May 24, 2022, tragedy struck Uvalde, Texas when a gunman entered Robb Elementary School and killed 19 students and 2 teachers. This devastating news hit about a week after tragedy struck Buffalo, New York, when a self-identified white supremacist went to a predominantly Black area and opened fire at a grocery store. Many of the victims who died were older, the oldest being 86 years old.

I say all of this to put the trauma we’ve been dealing with into perspective. Gun violence has always been an ongoing issue where it feels like we’re talking in circles, even when the victims go from being elderly citizens to elementary school students in just a week’s time. The same conversations crop up where we beg for gun control, like, NOW, and the response is a chorus of chirping crickets as we read stories about a man making customized caskets for children. The design on this casket should be a cute birthday cake instead of something for a funeral. It’s heartbreaking.

I’ve gotten used to the exhausting back and forth when this level of gun violence happens. That being said, I was not prepared to see a series of tweets from Quinta Brunson, creator of my beloved Abbott Elementary, that revealed just how disconnected our society has become in regard to the issue.

Brunson speaks on the issue

In the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, Brunson revealed that she’d been receiving requests to take the situation and turn it into an episode of Abbott Elementary. “People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding entertainment.” Further down in her thread, she shows an example of one of the many messages she’s gotten:

“This is just an idea,” the message reads. “For the eventual series finale, a school shooting episode to highlight the numerous ones in this nation.” Think about that sentence for a moment. Not only does this person want a wholesome comedy series to take a dark turn where children are killed, but this person also wants it to be the series finale. That means they want the show to END on this note. “Formulate an angle that would get our government to understand why laws need to pass. I think Abbott Elementary can effect change. I love the show.”

Creatives don’t owe you traumatic content

I know the media we watch has the power to inspire us and teach us valuable lessons, but asking a creator to inject a traumatic event into their content is not the reasonable advice folks seem to think it is. Our country went from extremely violent racism to murdering children in the span of a week. How someone gets the bright idea to message a Black woman to do the heavy lifting right now is astonishing—but, sadly, not surprising.

It’s not surprising that this person (and whoever else messaged Brunson) didn’t take her feelings into account and, instead, decided to try to turn her into a vehicle of change. It’s not surprising that they tried to put the responsibility on her shoulders instead of going directly to the folks with the power to implement changes. It’s not surprising that they didn’t think of the fact that they were asking a Black woman to write about a predominantly Black school dealing with that level of violence as if the Black community didn’t have such a heavy blow a week prior to what happened in Uvalde. It’s been a double dose of upsetting news, and yet, I’m not surprised that someone thought the solution was to ask a Black woman and not take her mental wellbeing into account.

“I love the show,” the message says. They apparently love it so much that they decided that the best thing for it was to end it with gunning down elementary school students to create some kind of teachable moment for our government. Spoiler alert: If that tweet with the guy making a Superman coffin for a child doesn’t do it, this TV show ain’t gonna do shit. And, honestly? It doesn’t have to.

We don’t HAVE to make our content into hard-hitting, teachable moments. Abbott Elementary can continue to be a feel-good comedy where a stoic man lets loose by dancing with a bunch of kids in the middle of a gymnasium. We already have to go about our day as if nothing traumatizing has happened. We live in a country where children have drills for situations like this as if they’re soldiers preparing for war. I promise you, our government knows what’s going on. Abbott Elementary can sit this one out.

(featured image: ABC)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)