Abbott Elementary “Juice” Review: The Importance of Listening to Barbara Howard

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY  “Juice” – Janine is thrilled to help introduce a new beverage to the cafeteria, but it ends up causing unexpected consequences for the students, teachers and school plumbing system. Elsewhere, Melissa clashes with her new aide, Ashley, who brings more disruption than help to the classroom when “Abbott Elementary” airs WEDNESDAY, OCT. 19 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC. SHERYL LEE RALPH, JAYDEN SKELTON, THADDEUS FAUSTIN, TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS, QUINTA BRUNSON
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

Abbott Elementary “Juice” Spoilers Ahead

Abbott Elementary Season 2, Episode 5, “Juice,” is essentially an homage to Barbara Howard’s power, and for that reason, it’s an episode worth celebrating. In this house (school?), we love all the characters, but we’d be denying ourselves an opportunity to be fully transparent if we didn’t admit that we loved Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Barbara Howard a little more. And they’d all agree, too, considering the events of this episode. 

While a bit less informative than last week’s “Principal’s Office,” Abbott Elementary’s “Juice” does a solid job of authenticating why change isn’t always necessary. Yes, it’s a good thing, even when it can be difficult, but some things don’t need to change when they’re working perfectly fine. Sometimes better can do more damage than good, and that’s the case with giving children (or me, the giant kid with a squirrel-sized bladder) more liquids. 

QUINTA BRUNSON in Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 5
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

Janine always has good intentions, but I sincerely appreciate how subtly the show continues to showcase that she needs guidance. The thing is, no matter how passionate you are about your job or even how good you might be at it, no one achieves anything alone. More often than not, we need people to stand beside us to say whether a plan should be pushed forward or unnecessary. We need people like Barbara who use their experiences to guide us to the better heights we might not be able to reach on our own.

Asking for help, perhaps even being desperate for it as Janine is in this episode, isn’t a bad thing. It’s a subtle showcase of strength because it requires far more bravery to say that you could use someone’s direction than it does to take matters into your own hands when you aren’t entirely sure what you’re doing. While Janine chooses the latter route in Abbott Elementary’s “Juice,” she eventually understands that she could have done a better job of implementing something new by allowing wisdom to be her compass.

(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

On the topic of needing a right hand or some form of assistance, we get to see Ashley finally at work as Melissa’s assistant. To say that her pull towards Ava is shocking would be a downright lie. We get it; everyone loves Ava even while she drives us off the wall. (We do too.) But this matter doesn’t require as much humor because the episode’s theme showcases the importance of a working team.

We know that Abbott staff are a true work family now. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do for each other, and that much has been established multiple times throughout the show’s run and in the five episodes of Season 2 we’ve had so far too. But exhibiting how overwhelmed Melissa has been required a bit more attention to double down on the harshness of burnout. Still, knowing this series and these writers, I’m hopeful that we’ll still see pieces of this arc because, surely, Ashley isn’t changing overnight. She might be well on her way toward checking off boxes on her to-do list, but progress has yet to be revealed.

Abbott Elementary’s “Juice” is yet another fantastic episode that continues to make our day a little bit better. The show does something utterly engaging that’s still so indescribable, hilarious, and gratifying at the same time. 

Further Thoughts

  • Was anyone else immediately transported to that period in elementary school where they introduced bagged milk for the first time? We had an entire staff come to teach us how to punch holes in a bag. I swear, it feels like a fever dream. Who thought, ah yes, bagged milk is what a bunch of elementary school kids need when our trusty Capri Sun was right there?
  • And of course, she’d also run a clothing auction during school hours. Also, where can I buy that lilac shirt she was wearing? When’s that going on sale? I’ll bid.
  • Gregory hiding behind Janine when Barbara was yelling? Me.
  • & Melissa keeping a bat under her desk is the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Now streaming on Hulu or ABC: What are your thoughts on Abbott Elementary’s “Juice?” Let us know in the comments below.


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