It’s always really special, to observe a show evolving from a freshman hit to a series you can anticipate watching for years to come. It’s usually special because you can’t always know for certain, what’s going to be a long-lasting success. Yet Abbott Elementary, from its first episode, did not hesitate to reach for greatness, and the Quinta Brunson-created comedy’s Season 3 premiere showcases multiple reasons why the show is primed to entertain us as long as it damn well wants to.
Every show is different, and many often need a little time to grow into viable hits: As one example, the original US adaptation of The Office floundered a bit in its first season, receiving no shortage of criticism about its inability to stand on its own. However, Season 2 — armed with a stronger sense of its own identity and the powerful unrequited love story between Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) — helped secure the show’s placement in 21st-century TV history.
Abbott Elementary is following a similar track as The Office (but without those first-year yips), learning the right lessons from what the earlier show did well. Take Abbott’s approach to its most prominent Will They/Won’t They relationship — the growing bond between Janine (Brunson) and Gregory (Tyler James Williams), which escalated dramatically at the end of Season 2 with a drunken kiss, followed by the two characters deciding not to pursue anything between them at that time.
In short, the writers are playing the long game, creating a slow-burn romance that may or may not escalate again in Season 3, but most importantly isn’t remaining static. And that’s always death for a Will They/Won’t They — you can only string fans along with the same type of yearning for so long, before things get stale.
Along similar lines, there are a few shakeups to the status quo in the Season 3 premiere that don’t negatively affect any of the show’s most beloved dynamics, but bring a real level of freshness. Most importantly, steps are taken to shore up areas where certain bits might get old.
To bring it back to The Office (US), there’s one episode in particular that has always stood out as the reason why the show ultimately ran nine seasons: In the UK series, boss David Brent (Ricky Gervais) was so wildly incompetent at his job that Season 2 ending with him getting fired is hardly a shock. In fact, it’s a surprise he lasted as long as he did (11 episodes).