Abbott Elementary “Art Teacher” Spoilers Ahead
ABC’s Abbott Elementary continues to be a beacon of light on Tuesday nights with the kind of reassurance many of us could all use, even as adults. In “Art Teacher,” Janine recruits an old college friend to fill the now-vacant role, but when her teachings don’t match Melissa’s standards, all hell almost breaks loose in the hallway.
Lisa Ann Walter is superlative at playing the kind of conundrum Melissa is. She has a specific way of teaching and understanding her students, but she also has a particular form of treating Janine. They aren’t friends yet per se; however, after Abbott Elementary’s “Art Teacher,” there’s a chance much of their dynamic could shift. At the very least, we know now that Janine belongs in Abbott. She’s safe here.
There’s still plenty we don’t know about the characters in this series, but Abbott Elementary’s “Art Teacher” shows us more of Janine’s struggles in a deeply relatable way. How many of us haven’t felt cool and needed to rely on someone else to feel some semblance of what’s considered the norm in a school setting? Many, I imagine.
After agreeing to use Peter Rabbit as the example for the art project, Sahar (Mitra Jouhari) follows her own plan by using newly purchased copies of the book to create a (stunning) abstract piece for the students. It’s gorgeous, yes, there’s no denying any of that, but the process and diminishing all that Janine has tried to do for these students wasn’t the way to go.
Thus, after Melissa follows her outside upon realizing the piece is made from the book pages she purchased, Janine stands her ground and vocalizes to her Sahar how wrong she was. While confident in the process, the aftermath of losing a friend naturally hits her as it would to all of us. Janine’s sadness after losing her friend allows her to open up to Melissa about the importance of Sahar’s role in her life.
While learning this about Janine isn’t shocking, Melissa’s response is. “Being a real person is more important than being cool,” Melissa empathetically tells her before hugging her (and noting that she needs to pay for the books within a year). It’s in this moment where we could understand that despite their differences and how they both operate in the classroom, Melissa values Janine as an educator and, more importantly, a human being.
While their differences will continue to challenge them to be better and stronger versions of themselves, it’s comforting to know that Janine doesn’t have to feel uncool here, even if her clothing patterns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Many of us have faced this idea of feeling”uncool,” and it’s likely something we’ll continue to. It doesn’t go away overnight, and frankly, it might never, but at the very least, Janine could have the reassurance that who she is matters more than who she’s friends with. Sometimes, the comforting reassurance is all that we need, and with Melissa’s warmth this week, it’s something we could all find comfort in alongside Janine.