Tyler James Williams and William Stanford Davis play Gregory Eddie and Mr. Johnson in Abbott Elementary. New episodes of season 2 air Wednesday nights at 9 PM ET on ABC. Additionally, you can watch on demand and on Hulu the following day.
A workplace comedy following a group of dedicated, passionate teachers — and a slightly tone-deaf principal —as they navigate the Philadelphia public school system. Despite the odds stacked against them, they are determined to help their students succeed in life, and though these incredible public servants may be outnumbered and underfunded, they love what they do — even if they don’t love the school district’s less-than-stellar attitude toward educating children.
During a roundtable discussion with the actors, I had the chance to ask both of them what the most rewarding feedback they’ve received from viewers about the show has been so far.
“Well, the thing that we get the most is that the honesty of the show, the truthfulness of the situations, the specificity I should say that the writers have captured about this real-life situation of not only teachers but the school system itself, everything from the top to the bottom, from Quinta’s character all the way down to Mr. Johnson — I shouldn’t say down but everything is very specific,” William Stanford Davis explained. “I have teachers in my family and they’ll call right after an episode and say, ‘Yeah, it was just like that.’”
Tyler James Williams was quick to agree about the importance of representing teachers before sharing, “The one note I got from everybody is that they just wanted more of it and I think when your audience — I always think start with a low episode count, let the audience demand more and when they do that, it really says a lot about your show. So, the awards and all the other stuff are great, but to have the audience requesting more and being upset with the count that we gave them at first, that really says a lot.”
Next, I spoke with them about the unique character relationships on the series and which ones they enjoy most or want to see more of.
“We’ve had this nice trio that we’ve been playing with in season two of Gregory, Jacob, and Mr. Johnson,” Williams told me. “You put these configurations together like, ‘Okay, how do I put these characters together in these situations and see what happens?’ That wasn’t one that I’d ever really anticipated, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with. It’s been really fun playing with them. What would I like to see more of? You know what, honestly, as a fan of the show, I would like to see more Ava/Jacob because I feel like she just makes him so uncomfortable and I just want to see more of them stuck together, trying to find something to relate on.”
“Last season I worked a lot with Jacob and the last couple of episodes, I really had some good episodes with Gregory, and I like this trio, but I agree, that would be very funny to see Ava sweating Jacob every chance she gets. This ensemble is just stellar. I mean, when we’re all together in the scene, to me, that’s what it’s really just the best, you know, when everyone’s in the scene together. But yeah, that would be hilarious to see,” Davis added. “He has an affinity, he wants to be Black and she’s not having that.”
To end, Williams managed to describe the dynamic perfectly: “There’s something about Ava that’s so… Ava is never uncomfortable, and Jacob is perpetually uncomfortable, just having them in a room together, it sets them off. I mean, I know the writers are throwing something together, there’s nothing that like we can think of that they haven’t already covered. So I’m sure we’re bound to see it. I’m just waiting for it.”