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Abbott Elementary Is Back in Session With A Sweet, Subdued Season 3 | TV/Streaming

February 5, 2024 - Movies

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When we last left the staff at Abbott, Janine Teagues (Brunson) had just gently shut down her will-they-won’t-they dynamic with fellow teacher Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams); as the show had spent the first two seasons showing us, Janine is a tireless servant of her community, so selfless that she hasn’t had the chance to really do Janine. Now, in the two-parter premiere “Career Day,” we see the consequences of that decision, the cold open picking up five months later as Janine makes a career decision that significantly changes her dynamic to the school. (We’re forbidden from revealing here.)

Some of those changes are for the better: it dovetails with the arrival of a trio of wide-eyed new district administrators, led by Josh Segarra’s gentle, patient Manny. (Segarra has been a standout in shows ranging from “Sirens” to “She-Hulk” to “The Other Two,” so it’s a delight to see him here.) Unlike district admins of the past, Manny and crew seem genuinely interested in trying to improve the conditions at Abbott, though I’m sure the season will peel back layers of cynicism or institutional gridlock that stymie even these higher-positioned reps. 

But these changes also cause a rift between her and the rest of Abbott’s faculty — particularly Gregory, who may still be feeling some type of way about Janine’s rejection last season. Add to that the bubbling chemistry that seems to be coalescing between Janine and Manny, and “Abbott” may have a new love triangle to wrestle with throughout the season. (We do miss Tariq, though, don’t we folks?) 

The kids, however, must come first, and much of the season premiere (though not as much as I’d like) centers around a career day Janine has arranged for the school, giving each teacher a new foil to bounce off — a zoologist who only brought a “fake sloth,” a cosmetologist who offers a defensive Mrs. Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph) the opportunity for a glow-up. In theory, at least; a few chuckleworthy moments aside, this particular subplot gets derailed by one big-swing cameo from a Philly fave that sucks all the oxygen out of the room. 

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