Warning: Spoilers for Abbott Elementary‘s Season 2 premiere forward.
Abbott Elementary will get an A++ for kicking off its second season with a fully flawless cameo: America’s favourite orange furball, Gritty.
The sassy Philadelphia Flyers mascot who despatched the web right into a frenzy in 2018, then captured all his haters’ hearts, paid a go to to Willard R. Abbott Public Faculty as a favor to the good second grade trainer round, Janine Teagues (creator Quinta Brunson).
“Quinta herself is a Philadelphia legend. And it simply felt proper for 2 native legends to return collectively and be part of forces,” Abbott Elementary‘s government producer Patrick Schumacker defined in a cellphone interview with Decider.
Within the Season 2 premiere, “Growth Day,” Janine tells her fellow lecturers that after making many cellphone calls and pretending to slide on a beer can on the Flyers enviornment, she booked “the one superstar that issues” to shock the youngsters on their first day of college. Sadly, as a result of Janine is belatedly coping with her Season 1 breakup from Tariq (Zack Fox), she gave Gritty the incorrect date. As an alternative of the youngsters’ first day, the meme-able mascot reveals up on Growth Day and has no selection however to hang around with our favourite Philly educators.
To have a good time the beginning of Season 2, Schumacker spoke to Decider about how Abbott Elementary pulled off that iconic Gritty cameo, the pleasant season premiere, and his dream visitor star for the present.
Decider: It was so good not solely reacquainting myself with these characters and this world within the Season 2 premiere, however actually feeling like they by no means left. Abbott is as heartfelt, sharp, and joyous as ever. And the Gritty cameo was an ideal method to kick off the season. How did this excellent Philly cameo come about?
Patrick Schumacker: Effectively, I feel it’s honest to say that Quinta herself is is a Philadelphia legend.
She’s a star! She’s a hometown hero!
Precisely. And it simply felt proper for 2 native legends to return collectively and be part of forces. We really tried to get Gritty in Season 1 of the present, I consider for the pilot. I need to say it was for an early episode, if not the pilot itself, and Gritty was sadly, however expectedly, engaged with one other occasion. As a result of clearly, he’s very in demand round right here. And so the timing simply didn’t work out. However we at all times had Gritty on our type of imaginative and prescient board of potential visitor stars. Clearly the present is ready in Philly, and as you may see from Season 1 — this custom continues in Season 2 — we need to type of do as a lot Philly deep-diving as we will and simply populate the present with as a lot genuine Philly-ness as doable. So yeah, we wished to kick Season 2 off with an actual bang and it felt like Gritty was it. He was the best cameo to plug in there, particularly given given the storyline of Janine’s life type of melting and Gritty himself being a bit little bit of a mischievous agent of chaos. It felt dramatically proper for him to indicate up, however then he maybe unexpectedly turns into a supply of calm and centering for Janine with one in every of his hugs.
He appears to be like like such an important hugger. I additionally heard that you simply’re an enormous hockey fan, and since Quinta is from Philly I’m questioning how thrilling this cameo was for you all? What was it like having Gritty on set?
Oh my god. So, it was so thrilling. It actually was like having the President of the US present up on set. It was possibly rather less of an entourage, as a result of Gritty can type of deal with himself. And everyone loves Gritty, so it was it was an actual thrill. I imply, you may’t assist however stare at him. Like, I discovered myself being embarrassed observing him. I don’t know if he may see me again, as a result of his eyes type of transfer in all totally different instructions. However yeah, it was phenomenal. I imply, everyone was simply so desperate to snap selfies with him afterwards, and he was very happy to oblige although we had been filming in what appeared like 100 diploma climate in LA. I felt for for Gritty below all that hair — all that unventilated hair. However he was a trooper. He was a sport. And an unbelievable actor in addition, a really giving scene associate.
Talking of Gritty being a giving scene associate, on this episode Jacob reveals he realized a bit ASL when he was overseas, and it seems he’s the one one who actually understands Gritty. Jacob begins translating his gestures to all of the lecturers, and I believed this was such a masterful overlap of storylines. I’m curious if one knowledgeable the opposite. Do you know you had Gritty, so that you got here up with Jacob instructing ASL? Or was it a cheerful accident that they labored collectively so completely?
You nailed it with joyful accident.
Oh my gosh. I can’t consider that!
Yeah, it was serendipitous. And, , one of the best jokes come from simply extemporaneous riffing within the writers’ room or on set or whatnot. I imply this was baked into the script forward of time, however it was one thing that simply got here up organically within the writers’ room, the place it was identical to, “Effectively, yeah. After all Jacob is gonna need to exhibit.” Clearly Gritty shouldn’t be utilizing ASL, however Jacob would take it upon himself to at the very least exhibit his expertise nevertheless finest he can and be Gritty’s unofficial translator. However yeah, that was simply type of an extemporaneous factor that got here up within the writers’ room.
Superb. I additionally discovered it hilariously becoming that Gregory doesn’t get Gritty initially. After all by the tip of the episode he has this variation of coronary heart, however seeing how this man doesn’t like pizza, was it simply inevitable that he would additionally hate on a mascot that everybody else loves?
That’s proper. I imply, I really feel like Gregory is type of consummate contrarian in our group of lecturers. However he’s a softie on the within. He at all times type of comes round on the finish of the day, and I feel it was essential for Quinta and us to exhibit that Gritty is plain in his cuteness and likability, and even essentially the most hardened armor will finally crack below the load of Gritty’s awesomeness. There was the tag of that episode, when Gregory is having a type of a standoff with Gritty. And our tags are restricted to about 30 seconds, however I may have watched [forever]. There’s that profile shot of them wanting wish to gunslingers and Gritty utilizing that inexperienced — effectively I feel they’re interchangeable — however he had a inexperienced stomach button on, his outtie. And I grew to become intimately acquainted with that stomach button. [Laughs]
I really like when Gritty is choosing the stomach button and Ava screams, “Celebrities! They’re identical to us!”
[Laughs] That’s proper. That’s proper. And the squeaks. And Gritty is definitely shockingly agile given his body. You’ll be able to’t assist however simply dance with him. So it was fairly particular.
So Gritty is nice, however sadly he comes to highschool on the incorrect day. To make up for that, Mr. Johnson clothes because the bush mascot from Eddie’s Garden and Care. How did you resolve on a second mascot for this episode?
Within the episode, Gregory is speaking about how his dad has this garden care firm with a mascot that’s logical. It’s just like the logical counterpoint to the the absurdity and amorphous nature of Gritty. And due to this fact we had been like, we’ve got to see that. In order that’s what led to it. I feel Gregory is absolutely pragmatic. And that trickles down from his dad. And that pragmatism is likely one of the causes that he doesn’t essentially perceive what Gritty is. [Laughs] However that knowledgeable the fundamental design of the mascot costume from Eddie’s Garden and Care. Our artwork division got here up with the literal design, and I feel Mr. Johnson provides Gritty a run for his cash.
Oh undoubtedly. Gritty’s about to have a really tense night time of imposter syndrome.
[Laughs] Actual tough.
So it is a very sports-adjacent episode. Along with Gritty, it begins off with Ava casually internet hosting an Eagles tailgate within the car parking zone. I do know sports activities are such a beloved a part of Philly’s group, and I really feel like I noticed Quinta at an Eagles recreation actually final night time on Instagram. Do you assume there are extra Philly sports activities crossovers in Abbott‘s future?
She was there final night time, that’s proper. I’ll say, with out freely giving any actual spoilers, sure. I feel emphatically sure. That’s simply type of baked into the present at this level.
And I do know the present has some spectacular visitor stars lined up for Season 2, together with Leslie Odom Jr., Lauren Weedman, and Keyla Monterroso Mejia. Do you or the workforce have a dream Philly cameo other than Gritty, or any dream cameo? I truthfully assume anybody, together with the precise President of the US, would need to be part of this present.
Actually, given the quantity of curiosity that Quinta has obtained particularly from absolute A-listers, it might not shock me if the president himself in the future referred to as her up personally and expressed curiosity.
[Laughs] And got here to the varsity to forgive Jacob’s scholar loans personally.
[Laughs] I imply, okay, so I’m a local St. Louisan. I’m a Blues fan. So I’m not essentially one of the best individual or essentially the most insider individual to reply this query. However as an outsider, I wouldn’t thoughts seeing a cameo from Questlove.
Oh, an iconic selection.
Now, that’s not one thing that we’ve essentially talked about within the room. I’m simply placing it on the market.
Effectively they’re gonna discover out now.
Let’s see what occurs!
That is it. We’re manifesting with this text. Questlove on Abbott.
New episodes of Abbott Elementary air Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
This interview has been edited for readability and size.