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Season three of “Abbott Elementary” has fans both laughing and crying

The “Abbott Elementary” teachers gathering and chatting in the teacher’s lounge in the series’s most recent season. Photo used with permission from Disney/Gilles Mingasson.

SPOILER WARNING. This story contains plot storylines from seasons one through three. If you have not watched “Abbott Elementary”, this story will spoil some of the main plot points for the show.

Ever since its initial season in 2021, the hit ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary” has been loved by all of its fans. If you haven’t seen the show, it is very similar to “The Office, a mockumentary that isn’t supposed to focus on the characters’ jobs, but instead on their relationships and actions in the show. In “Abbott Elementary”, the show follows the teachers of Willard R. Abbott Elementary School in Philadelphia. 

Janine Teagues, who some may call the main character, is a second-grade teacher and has, as her fellow teachers would say, an overly positive attitude. Jacob Hill is an eighth grade history teacher and is best friends with Janine because of what they call “trauma bonding” in season one. Melissa Shemmenti is the other second grade teacher and has a questionable background based on all of the references that she makes during the course of the show. Barbara Howard is a kindergarten teacher at Abbott and, as far as the audience knows, the longest tenured teacher at Abbott. Barbara and Melissa share a very close friendship due to them both being very tenured teachers at the school. Gregory Eddie is the newest teacher at Abbott after being a substitute teacher for season one and then choosing to stay at Abbott as a full time teacher for seasons two and three. Ava Coleman is the principal at Abbott despite the fact that she isn’t very qualified for the job (she only got it because she caught the superintendent cheating on his wife) and spends most of her time joking around Abbott and selling clothes on her social media.

The most recent season has had its moments, but overall, it has been a letdown of a season.

The primary reason for my criticism is how it handled many of the romantic relationships in this series, specifically the lack of movement in the Janine-Gregory relationship. Ever since the first episode of the show, the audience has seen how much chemistry these two characters had with each other, and everyone has wanted them to get together. For a variety of reasons, the two haven’t gotten together during the show. The relationship hit its climax in the final episode of season 2 “Franklin Institute,” where they both confess that they have feelings for each other, but Janine says that she isn’t ready for a relationship with Gregory, leaving all of the fans brokenhearted. When this season came out, the audience thought that they were still going to have that romantic tension in the air, but that never happened due to Janine taking a job at the school district for the majority of the season.

Another destroyed relationship was one of the bad moves from this season. From the beginning, Melissa has been a lone wolf after she divorced her husband prior to the show even starting, so the audience knew her as a lone wolf in her love-life. Halfway through season one, she begins to start ‘flirting’ with the vending machine guy Gary, and her work best friend Barbara notices this and encourages Melissa to ask Gary out. After they had been happy for one and a half seasons, it all comes crashing down during the opening episode of this season “Career Day.” After three Philadelphia Eagles (Jalen Hurts, Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox) made a surprise appearance for Career Day, Gary decides to propose to Melissa in front of them thinking it was the perfect moment, but it instead was the complete opposite of it. Melissa turned him down because, like she had told him prior to the proposal attempt, she didn’t want to get married again because of how awful her first marriage was, and the two decided that they should break up since they didn’t want the same thing. While the audience can see Melissa’s reasoning, it still didn’t help with heartbreak for both her and the audience. The audience and those around Melissa in the show saw how happy she was being with Gary, so that’s why both her fellow teachers and the audience were in shambles and couldn’t believe that she turned him down. 

That’s not the only long-term relationship break-up this season. Jacob Hill also broke up with his long-time boyfriend Zach. Jacob and Zach had been dating prior to the show starting and had always been happy, as far as the audience knew. Then in the properly titled episode “Breakup” this season, Jacob confessed to Gregory that he and Zach had been going through a rough patch for a while, which ended up leading to the two of them breaking up in a messy fashion where Zach insulted Jacob for the things he didn’t like about him. So far, season three has been a bad season for love stories with three of the major ones either not going anywhere or going straight downhill. 

Some of the comedy in the series took a hit, too. In seasons one and two, viewers were used to the characters and what made each of them funny to the audience, specifically Ava and Mr. Johnson, the school janitor. However, in season three, both of these characters seemed to have lost some of their bread and butter in comedy. In the first two seasons, they were known for their quick one-liners and out-of-pocket jokes, but now their characters feel either rushed or out of place in different storylines, which has led to their comedic impact of the show taking a hit.

That’s not to say that there weren’t good moments with the new season. Rotten Tomatoes, a very trusted source when rating TV shows and movies, gave it a 100% rating, showing how much the fans still love it with these disappointments from the season. It was able to tackle a lot of serious issues like substance abuse, challenges with disorders and racism, all of which never took away from the same comedy that the audience has come to love from their favorite Philadelphia school teachers.

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