If you ask us at Tom's Guide, it's always a good time to binge-watch TV shows. And, so, I have some optional "homework" for everyone with a Hulu account. No, there won't be a test or anything like that — what you do on your free time is up to you.
But if I was heading into this week without having watched the mockumentary-style sitcom Abbott Elementary (one of the best shows of 2022, which just wrapped up its first season), I'm pretty sure I'd add it to my queue. The show is only 6.5 hours in total, and it moves at a fast pace at that.
- Hulu starts at $6.99 per month
Sure, you could spread Abbott (available on Hulu, after airing on ABC) out across a couple weeks, but this show is one of the easiest binge-watches I've encountered in recent history. And its first season just finished so well that I want to shout its praises from my keyboard.
If you also have Netflix or HBO Max, check out our list of the new movies to stream this week, too. And before you go further, be sure you check out why I just cancelled this streaming service. Plus, would you believe me if I told you things get weirder in Moon Knight episode 4?
Looking for something else to watch, say something a little more real? Circle the They Call Me Magic release date in your calendar to watch the upcoming docuseries. Meanwhile, Netflix's new No. 1 movie shines the light on Abercrombie & Fitch's terrible behavior. Just don't expect more of CNN's new streaming service, as CNN Plus is dead after less than a month of streaming shows about Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.
You should move Abbott Elementary up in your queue
Maybe you don't have a running list of shows you want to watch, shows you're catching up on and shows you're currently following. But if you're like me, and you feel like there's too much TV and you're using JustWatch or Plex's new beta features to track them all. Well, I humbly ask that you put everything on hold for just 30 minutes of your time.
The first episode of Abbott Elementary is all that you'll need to watch to get into the show, because it perfectly sets up the major players of the cast. Star and show-runner Quinta Brunson plays Janine Teagues, a second-grade teacher who believes in hard work and optimism despite the fact that nearly everything at Abbott Elementary says otherwise. This Philadelphia public school is chronically underfunded, the principal only has the job because of blackmail, and she's one of the rare teachers who stayed through to a third year. And Janine is in her second year, and struggling for rugs for her students. Somehow, that premise is comical and not depressing.
Some people will stay for the awkward banter between Janine and Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph), the kindergarten teacher who Janine looks up to — and whose approval Janine is desperate to gain. The early scene where Janine calls Barbara "mom" is such an odd moment that I couldn't tell if she was serious or not, and upon realization that they weren't related? I could not stop laughing at the awkwardness.
You'll also find out that there's someone more awkward than Janine. Her fellow newbie teacher Jacob (Chris Perfetti) is struggling with everyone (including his own students) verbally dunking on him left and right. While he may earn the respect of some of his peers over the season, Jacob is perpetually sticking out like a sore thumb in the best ways.
Greg is the missing puzzle piece for Abbott
Much like most modern mockumentary sitcoms, Abbott Elementary's presenting a show through the eyes of an invisible narrator. While the series is filled with voice-over commentary from the talking head/confessional scenes, this peculiar school and its buffoonish principal is so odd that it truly needed a character who is completely new to the scene.
This is likely why the first episode introduces substitute first-grade teacher Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams), who comes across as normal, as his own quirks are mostly hidden. Williams crushes the role with the best expressions and reactions this side of Jim and Pam.
But, more importantly, Gregory keeps things very interesting. Not only does he serve as a potential rival to principal Ava Coleman (Janelle James) who pays more attention to TikTok trends than education, but Gregory and Janine have a bit of instant chemistry that sets up a classic will-they-or-won't-they.
Janine wouldn't think of it because of Tariq (Zack Fox), her boyfriend since the juice box era. Tariq has always wanted to be a rapper, but hasn't found much luck yet. I won't spoil where things go, or who dates who, but the first season of Abbott Elementary has pretty great arcs for all three characters.
Abbott Elementary is a potential new classic
As I explained back when I started Abbott Elementary in February, it's one of the rare shows with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. And now it's completed its first season (which ended with a phenomenal field trip episode this past week) with that perfect score intact.
Heck, Abbott Elementary is so beloved that people are openly calling it better than The Office:
argue with the wall pic.twitter.com/eiuSrakZR0April 13, 2022
Whether you like Abbott more than The Office is all up to you, but considering the former has only had one season and the latter has had nine? It's akin to comparing apples and apple pies at this stage. One could become the other, but it needs time.
That said, just watch the first episode of Abbott Elementary — and I mean watch it, don't multitask with Twitter in one hand. I bet you'll like it, and I bet you won't just watch one episode. Before you know it, you'll be an expert at desking, and you might actually feel some sympathy for Principal Coleman.
In other streaming news, it looks like Apple TV Plus may be set to score the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. This could be huge for the rapidly growing streaming service. Plus, Netflix has just confirmed the return date for one of its most underrated shows. Relatedly, here's the one Roku setting I wish I'd known to turn off.