The main cast of Abbott Elementary. Image: ABC.

The Best Shows to Watch if You Love the Feel-Good Comedy of ‘Abbott Elementary’

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Season one of Abbott Elementary stole our collective hearts and we can’t wait for season two in the fall of 2022. Created by Quinta Brunson, the show follows her character, Janine, in her second year of teaching at a public elementary school in Philadelphia. In addition to fellow new teacher Jacob (Chris Perfetti), she’s aided by experienced professionals Ms. Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter) and Mrs. Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph). Other main characters include the extremely incompetent and self-absorbed principal Ms. Coleman (Janelle James) and the shy substitute Gregory (Tyler James Williams.)

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Something between a mockumentary and workplace comedy, a camera crew is present to document the lives of underfunded schools. Yes, these teachers would even put up with a camera crew if it meant possibly getting aid and resources. If you’re in the mood for something like Abbott Elementary, but don’t want to watch the same episodes for a third time, try some of these shows released over the past few years. (Because these are all comedies please note that they’ll have moments, characters, and whole plot lines that don’t age well (or maybe were never okay) because we’re always growing.)

I Feel Bad

This is the first show I thought about when beginning this list! It gives similar vibes to Abbott Elementary (though be warned, you’ll have to join me in being mad that it didn’t get a second season to grow!). If you like the dynamics of the main character trying to connect with those younger than her (like her kids and co-workers) and older than her (like her parents) I Feel Bad is a great show to try.

Created by Aseem Batra and co-executive produced with Amy Poehler, Sarayu Rao plays a mother of three who tries to balance a chaotic family life and her career, working in a very white, male video games industry. While Rao’s character is older than Brunson’s and they’re at different points in their careers, they face a lot of similar pressures as working women of color. Both Emet (Rao) and Janine (Brunson) juggle the desire to inspire while also needing to overcome a lot of self-doubt.

Everybody Hates Chris

You knew this was coming, right? Everyone became that Leonard Dicaprio Once Upon a Time in Hollywood meme when Tyler James Williams appeared on the screen. While Williams is playing a very different character on Abbott Elementary, we all got a look at his comedy talent 15 years ago. Inspired by Chris Rocks’s childhood memories from the late ’70s and early ’80s, Everybody Hates Chris follows a very young Williams growing up with his family in their Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn) apartment.

While I swerve away from Terry Crews’ projects at the present, I still have a special place in my heart for his role as Chris’s dad in this show. Speaking of avoiding things, as the oldest show on this list of comedies, there is certain things that didn’t age well or were even okay at the time.

That said, in so many other ways it was revolutionary and I respect that. Where so many shows sought to show only “acceptable” and wealthy portrayals of Black life, Everybody Hates Chris showed a working-class family. A refusal to show people of color struggling with money is also probably part of the reason why it took so long to get a show set at public schools from a teacher’s perspective.

Single Parents

A dynamic that drives a lot of the humor in Abbott Elementary is how each teacher approaches their job very differently and the “greener” teacher is very over eager. This framework is similar to the friend group in Single Parents. An already established group of single parents, who feel ostracized by other parents in their kids’ grade level for not having as much time to participate, meet a very recently divorced single dad named Will (Taran Killam).

The gang consists of single parents in various situations. The youngest is a very early-twenties single dad (Jake Choi) and the oldest is a wealthy widowed father of twin girls (played by Brad Garrett). Other main characters in the group include a mom with a needy son, Angie (Leighton Meester), and a mom with a mature son into fashion, Poppy (Kimrie Lewis). The group decides to “adopt” Will into their group because they feel like he is too involved in his kid’s life to avoid processing his divorce. This has the added benefit of him not bothering them for PTA things.

Unlike Abbott Elementary, the kids play a more prominent role and affect the main characters’ plots and subplots. Single Parents had two full seasons before it was canceled in May of 2020.

A Black Lady Sketch Show

While she had to step back a bit to pursue Abbott Elementary, Brunson was a founding creator of A Black Lady Sketch Show. She, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis made a hilarious show that highlights the humor and experiences where race and gender intersect. Brunson and fellow Abbott Elementary writer Brittani Nichols wrote for the show and almost all major Black castmates of the show have appeared in a sketch or two.

It’s great to see fresh faces, but also see Black talent doing comedy that has never been featured on the most popular sketch show (SNL.) These are women like Laverne Cox, Angela Bassett, and Amara La Negra—who all appeared in Bad Bitch Support Group sketch in season one. Like other sitcoms on this list, a sketch show is easy to pick up and put down. If you do binge though, don’t fear because season four is on the way!

(featured image: ABC)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.