Stop Making Quinta Brunson Explain Why There Won’t Be A School Shooting Episode of ‘Abbott Elementary’
The Philadelphia-born comic and writer recently spoke to Glamour for their annual “Women of the Year” series, explaining how she’s processed her rise from viral content creator to one of TV comedy’s most respected voices. In terms of both content and tone, Brunson’s playful examination of the public school system in underfunded areas with Abbott Elementary is a breath of fresh air that rejuvenated the tired network TV sitcom genre and gave viewers something they didn’t know they desperately needed — a grounded, feel-good comedy with conviction.
What absolutely no one has ever needed, on the other hand, is for Brunson to use her insightful, light-touch approach to portraying systemic issues within the education system to address the epidemic of school shootings that has plagued America for the past couple decades. No sane human being could possibly expect the destruction of the delicately crafted tone of Abbott Elementary to do anything at all to stem the tide of gun violence, so why would anyone — Glamour especially — make Brunson explain why she won’t write a Philadelphia-flavored Columbine episode?
“I read that some people had wanted you to actually write an episode that deals with a school shooting,” Glamour said to Brunson about the worst possible Abbott Elementary plotline imaginable. “You rejected that idea. Why?”
Though most people would probably have a hard time coming up with a succinct and reasonable answer to the question of “Why won’t you show a bunch of kids getting gunned down on your comedy series? What’s wrong with you?” Brunson reacted calmly, telling her interviewer that, while writing Abbott Elementary, “I just think about the day-to-day in a workplace comedy, and I don’t think that that’s the realistic day-to-day in the classroom.”
“To us, these school shootings are the biggest thing happening, but when I talk to my friends who are teachers, yes, that’s huge, but today they’re just trying to get through this lesson. They’re just trying to get the reading scores up. They’re just trying to do this job,” Brunson continued. “If anything, the school shooting thing is in the background, like, ‘Fuck.’ It’s kind of like, ‘We got to deal with that too?’ Do you know what I mean?”
Brunson concluded the thoughts that no one should have ever forced her to share by saying, “I just don’t know if I want to dedicate my space to that. I don’t want to open up my show to that political violence.”
This isn’t the first time that Brunson has had to explain what an awful, unthinkable idea a school shooting Abbott Elementary episode would be — last year, Brunson tweeted a picture of a DM she received in which a fan asked her to make the series finale of her show a school shooting episode, captioning the batshit insane request with, “I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this. We’re not okay. This country is rotting our brains. I’m sad about it.” Brunson then rightly suggested that concerned fans call their representative in Congress instead of their favorite comedian if they want to talk about addressing gun violence.
Unfortunately, there would be ample precedent for a school shooting episode of Abbott Elementary — hip hop fans will remember the episode “Time Stands Still” from Degrassi: The Next Generation in which Jimmy Brooks, played by Drake, was the victim of an in-school shooting. Even the sickeningly sweet-toned Glee had a school shooting episode that aired just four months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack.
I understand the frustration that simple-minded sitcom fans must feel when they see horrible events unfold on the news over and over, but then don’t see appropriate responses from decision makers and leaders chosen to protect their country. What I don’t understand is why the onus then falls to comedy writers to put a stop to the endless violence. After all, even if Brunson did write a very special Abbott Elementary school shooting, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania would just argue that the school district should have given Janine a gun.