Abbott Elementary “Development Day” Review: Going Through It

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY “Development Day” 

(ABC/Scott Everett White)

Abbott Elementary “Development Day” Spoilers Ahead

It’s never easy going back to school, and the notion even applies to the delightful Abbott Elementary(Though, I still prefer this school over any other.) After the school year ends in the Season 1 finale “Zoo Balloon,” some teachers return better than ever, while others must deal with getting through some of the hardships, making the series much more gripping in storytelling.

The first season highlighted the importance of belonging somewhere, and while it’s too soon to tell, something tells me this season will explore what the notion truly means. And as the Season 2 premiere focuses heavily on Janine’s current state, it’s going to be undoubtedly lovely to watch how the series works through taking on significant life changes as a team. They’ve already begun to show how profoundly they care, which is a large part of why this series was a tremendous hit from day one. (And now, they have Emmy awards under their belt too!)

GRITTY, LISA ANN WALTER, SHERYL LEE RALPH in Abbott Elementary Season 2 premiere
(ABC/Scott Everett White)

The new school year can be challenging for some, and hiding the truth from people can become an even bigger subject when personal matters must be dealt with. And sometimes, dealing with them alone is where the problem lies. But that detail works so beautifully with this show right now because Janine Teagues is no longer the new teacher—she’s part of a team, and they’ve now established that they look out for each other. While everyone’s ecstatic initially because she’s bringing in mascot Gritty (I don’t get it either, Gregory, don’t worry), they all start to worry after news about her rent and tickets see the light.

Here’s where Abbott Elementary’s “Development Day” gets even more excellent because I was genuinely shocked to see that Janine is behind on something. We know that she’ll always be a few steps ahead when it comes to teaching, but sometimes, how we act and behave in our careers can differ from how we are in our personal lives. As it turns out, after she broke up with Tariq (Zack Fox), she began to surprisingly miss him, which is so realistic that it’s heartbreaking. 

Yes, some breakups (especially for the one ending the relationship) feel fine, but at times, they simply suck. Sometimes, even when something is suitable for a person, it still doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with it through dry eyes and complete satisfaction. As Melissa says, “you gotta go through it; not over it.” And at this very moment, outside the school where Janine’s car is getting towed because of unpaid parking tickets (under Tariq’s name), Abbott Elementary clarifies that this staff is a family. Every single person not only cares about Janine, but they care about each other, and ensuring that they’re their best selves to be great teachers, is part of a job they willingly took on to love the family they uncovered in each other.

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY “Development Day” still with Janine, Melissa, Barbara and Jacob
(ABC/Scott Everett White)

Still, the idea of getting through something instead of getting over it is something that we should discuss more often because the word “over” seldom equates to healing. When you get help for something, you’re forced to face it, understand it, then walk through it to the other side. And in this episode, Janine’s bravery shines beautifully despite her mistakes. She’s at the beginning right now, but acknowledging that she’s hurting and looking into herself requires more courage than if she were to shut it all down. We might not know how this school year will look, but we have twenty-two episodes to learn and grow with these characters. 

It’s a learning process for everyone, including those doing the teaching. It doesn’t always make perfect sense, and we can’t all walk through life as Ava does (except, even there, as we saw, there’s so much more to her than meets the eye). And that might as well be why Abbott Elementary continues to be so relatable because even though it’s been ages since we were kids, we’re still stumped with the cards we’re dealt with as adults. 

Abbott Elementary’s “Development Day” is a solid, thoughtfully written premiere that’s efficiently preluding the year we will have. It’s not going to be a smooth walk in the park with a gold star sticker every day, but trusting the process, themselves, and the people around them will make it all worthwhile. 

Further Thoughts

  • When Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Barbara appeared for the first time in the episode, did anyone else choke up a little? I’m never, ever getting over her Emmy win or the iconic speech.
  • Okay, let’s talk about Gregory being the only person to notice that Janine’s changed the side she’s parting her hair. I might bring this up 20 times in every conversation. Sorry, not sorry.
  • Gritty and Gregory are reminding me a lot of Ben Wyatt and Li’l Sebastian, which makes me love the whole thing much more. (Yes, I know one is a real celebrity. That’s not the point.)
  • It’s going to be so interesting to watch Melissa take on more students. How many episodes do we think that’ll last? 
  • Does anyone, or maybe instead, has anyone eaten BBQ at 8 am!??? I have so many questions about this. 

Now streaming on Hulu or ABCWhat are your thoughts on Abbott Elementary’s “Development Day?” Let us know in the comments below.


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