Abbott Elementary episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byRandall Einhorn
Written by
Production codeT11.10144
Original air dateDecember 7, 2021 (2021-12-07)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
← Previous
Next →
"Light Bulb"
List of episodes

"Pilot"[1] is the first episode of the American sitcom television series Abbott Elementary. It was written by series creator and star Quinta Brunson, and was directed by Randall Einhorn. It premiered on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States on December 7, 2021.

The episode sees the introduction of the primary school teachers portrayed by Brunson, Tyler James Williams, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph, with Janelle James portraying Principal Coleman[2] at the poorly-funded Willard R. Abbott Elementary, a fictional predominantly Black school in Philadelphia. The pilot has achieved numerous awards and nominations for its writing, directing and acting by the ensemble cast.[3][4]


Janine Teagues (Quinta Brunson) reveals that she has been teaching at Abbott Elementary for a year and, although she is proud to have survived the Philadelphia school system, her main problem is the school's lack of money. When Janine's student Jamal pees on the classroom rug, Janine is forced to remove the rug. She tries to get her students to sit down to no avail, until Kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph), a senior teacher at Abbott, gets them to sit down easily.[5]

In the teachers' lounge, Janine tells her fellow teachers Jacob Hill (Chris Perfetti) and Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter) that she needs a rug, and it turns out that both Jacob and Melissa also need rugs. The school's principal, Ava Coleman (Janelle James), walks in and asks the teachers what they think about the camera crew she brought into the school, to which Melissa replies that it's "distracting" and makes their job harder. The teachers are informed that overwhelmed first grade teacher Tina Schwartz (Kate Peterman) kicked a student in the hallway. This incident results in Tina being fired and Ava has Mr. Johnson, the school's janitor, temporarily teach Tina's class.[5]

Later that day, Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams) arrives to sub for Ms. Schwartz. The following day, Janine goes to Barbara for her opinion on the rug request email she composed for Ava. Barbara insists that she shouldn't expect anything and to just do her job. Ava then makes an announcement via PA system about some improvements to the school. However, it is revealed that Ava had used the entire provided budget for a new school sign instead of hiring the much-needed aides and the requested rugs. Janine is indignant and decides to e-mail the superintendent about what Ava has done. However, Barbara and Melissa inform her that the superintendent never receives any of their e-mails and that they are bounced back to the person in charge of where they came from, which is Ava. Ava makes another announcement telling all the teachers to report to the library during lunch for a "trust workshop" because of disrespect she has received. There, Ava openly criticizes Janine and tells the other teachers to do the same, but the other teachers refuse. Janine tells everyone that she was the one who disrespected Ava and apologizes to everyone. Before she walks out, she explains that she did it because of Ava spending the money on a sign and because she cared about the students. The other teachers follow her out.[5]

Janine shows the other teachers one of her students who is napping on the classroom floor. Barbara suggests that they chip in for a new rug, but Janine tells her that they don't have the money for it, but Melissa uses her contacts to get them new rugs. Janine lays out the new rug in her classroom and her students cheer. Janine is happy that even without help from the higher-ups, she is still able to help her students and the school.[5]



The episode was viewed by 2.88 million people during its first broadcast on ABC.[6] Including viewership recorded over a 35-day period through "linear and digital platforms" (known as MP35) after its original broadcast, the pilot episode on December 7, 2021, increased to a 2.4 demographic rating, with 7.1 million viewers. ABC said the 300% increase was its "largest percentage growth for any new comedy premiere".[7][8]

Awards and nominations

The episode has racked up numerous awards, including Brunson winning the Outstanding Writing, Comedy Series award for writing the pilot at the Black Reel Television Awards.[9] At the Hollywood Critics Association Awards, Brunson won the Best Writing in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy award, while Randall Einhorn was nominated for Best Directing in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy for his directorial duties in the pilot.[10] At the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, Brunson won the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for writing the episode.[11]


  1. ^ "'Abbott Elementary' – "Pilot"". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on January 12, 2023. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  2. ^ Petski, Denise (March 26, 2021). "Tyler James Williams, Sheryl Lee Ralph, 3 More Join Quinta Brunson In Her ABC School Comedy Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 12, 2023. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  3. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 18, 2021). "ABC 2021–22 Schedule: Big Sky On Thursday & Comedy Block In Fall, Black-Ish Farewell In Midseason". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 18, 2021. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Pedersen, Erik (November 1, 2021). "ABC Winter Premiere Dates: Bachelor, Black-ish Final Season, Three New Series & More". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 7, 2022. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d Eric Conner (December 8, 2021). "What Makes The Abbott Elementary Pilot So Engaging". New York Film Academy. Archived from the original on January 12, 2023. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  6. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 8, 2021). "ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Tuesday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.7.2021 Updated". ShowBuzzDaily. Archived from the original on December 8, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  7. ^ Darwish, Meaghan. "Abbott Elementary Becomes ABC's First Comedy Debut to Quadruple Its Ratings". TVInsider. Archived from the original on January 12, 2023. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  8. ^ Berman, Marc (December 8, 2021). "Tuesday Ratings: Respectable Live in Front of a Studio Audience Special on ABC". Programming Insider. Archived from the original on December 10, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  9. ^ Valerie, Complex (June 16, 2022). "6th Annual Black Reel Television Awards Nominations Announced". Deadline. Archived from the original on June 16, 2022. Retrieved June 19, 2022.
  10. ^ Petski, Denise (July 7, 2022). "This Is Us, Succession, Severance, Ted Lasso Lead 2022 HCA TV Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on July 7, 2022. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  11. ^ Trainor, Daniel (September 13, 2022). "Abbott Elementary 's Quinta Brunson Makes History With First Emmys Win". E!. Retrieved January 13, 2023.