‘Abbott Elementary’ and Quinta Brunson could make Emmys history

If the Oscars were looking for good humor with “CODA,” then the Television Academy might turn to the delightful and charming maneuvers of the Philadelphia schoolteachers with ABC’s hit show “Abbott Elementary,” which just had its season finale on April 12. Created, written and produced by it-girl Quinta Brunson, the fake sitcom is a sweet reminder of the challenges educators face daily, both in pre- and post-pandemic society, which undervalues ​​their contributions and their roles in the lives of our children. As broadcast television continues its struggles with viewership and overall presence in awards races, the ABC comedy could be one of the freshman series that wins with the Television Academy and its members.

With Brunson’s multiple roles on the show, she has three chances for possible nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Lead Actress in a Comedy, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. If recognized in all three, she would be the first black woman to receive three Emmy nominations for the same series.

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The series is not only a critical success, with a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, but even after a slow start with its premiere in December, the series became the first comedy to quadruple its ratings since its original broadcast, jumping more 300% after 35 days of viewing on linear and digital platforms.

The boom in the show’s popularity could indicate the industry’s desire for more positive and upbeat programming and narrative works. After a two-year global pandemic and a politically divided country, people are looking for hope for their future. Apple Original Films capitalized on that moment with “CODA” and its heartwarming message to the Best Picture winner at the 94th Academy Awards, the first streamer to achieve the feat. In a country that bleeds educators, mostly because it’s underpaid, undervalued, and too easily dismissed, a show like “Abbott Elementary,” even when framed through a comedic lens, brings viewers to the front lines of the struggles. educators in underfunded districts. A triple recognition for Brunson would be a nice reward for this achievement.

Variety has learned exclusively that the episode “Pilot” will be Brunson’s official submission in the writing race, where she will face Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso.” The series kickoff introduces audiences to the lives of teachers and some of the antics that take place on a daily basis.

For Lead Actress in a Comedy and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, each category has brought only one black woman to the stage as the winner of the past 73 Emmys – Isabel Sanford won in 1981 for her iconic role as Louise in CBS’s “The Jeffersons” and Lena Waithe alongside co-writer Aziz Ansari in 2017 for Netflix’s “Master of None.” So it’s time for the Emmys to look to reward some of our hilarious black women, as well as networks that are greenlighting more shows for public consumption.

In 2020, we saw history make history with the first two black women nominated for both Comedy Series and Lead Actress in a Comedy – Issa Rae for HBO’s ‘Insecure’ and Tracee Ellis Ross for ABC’s “Black-ish.” In the latter case, Ross didn’t get a producer credit for the series until 2018, after the show received three nominations for the series. Both are eligible to achieve those feats again this year, with Rae having the opportunity to write for her final season.

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The inclusion of black creatives is on the rise, but there’s still a long way to go, especially with the Primetime Emmys in attendance. Despite the past two years delivering two comedy series with acclaimed black producers (2021 with “Black-ish” and “Cobra Kai” and 2020 with “Insecure” and “What We Do in the Shadows”), only one black person has won the Emmy’s best comedy category of all time – Winifred Hervey for “The Golden Girls” in 1987.

In addition to Brunson, the surrounding set all had special moments. As supporting cast, the studio (Warner Bros Television) will feature Tyler James Williams (as freshman substitute teacher Gregory Eddie), Chris Perfetti (as hilarious history teacher Jacob Hill) and William Stanford Davis (as the eccentric school keeper, Mr. Johnson). For the supporting actress review, they submit Janelle James (as inept school principal Ava Coleman), Sheryl Lee Ralph (as religious kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard), and Lisa Ann Walter (as funny second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti). As Gregory’s unsupportive father, Orlando Jones will be featured as a guest actor. None of the actors have ever received Emmy nominations, but there is a focused effort to have a few of them make the cut.

After “Modern Family” comes to an end in 2020 and “Black-ish” comes to an end after eight seasons on April 19, ABC’s new flagship series for laughs may begin with Brunson’s optimistic take on the world of education. “Modern Family” is the last television series to win this category in 2015 for its fifth season. Broadcast network representation has been minimal based on the last time each of them was able to get names for standout comedy series – NBC (“The Good Place” in 2020 and “Parks and Recreation” in 2015) , CBS (“The Big Bang Theory” in 2014), Fox (“Glee” in 2011). Last year’s Emmy nominations saw a record 342 nominations for streaming/online platforms, up from 270 the previous year. Cable TV had 166 total nominations, down from 198, while TV had 105 nominations, down from 126.

The series is also produced by Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker of Delicious Non-Sequitur Productions. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and 20th Television, part of Disney Television Studios.

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