Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcastand subscribe there to hear more.
ABC’s new hit show Abbott Elementary is a fun mocumentary with a cast that has viewers holding their sides every week. With a diverse body of teachers balancing the pressures of educating America’s youth, the show has captured the hearts of many. However, there is a particular detail that plays to a stereotype of successful women.
Stuck in her ways, Ava Coleman (played by Janelle James) is an atypical principal. She dances, openly insults some of her staff and shows a general disinterest in the welfare of the school. This coupled with the fact that she’s the most powerful person in the school makes her golden for viewership.
However, Ava is unbelievably unqualified for her job. She has it only because she caught the superintendent in a compromising situation that could have ended his marriage. She used this as leverage to become principal.
Furthermore, the audience finds out teacher Gregory Eddie (played by Tyler James), the straight-man amongst the madness of Abbott Elementary, was supposed to be the principal there. He was beat out by Ava’s strong-arming the superintendent. Greg is actually qualified to be principal and seems to lack any respect for Ava.
It may be problematic that in this day and time, some writers are still depending on old stereotypes of women in the workplace. In the case of Abbott Elementary, the writers relied on the disproven idea “a woman in power doesn’t get there by her qualifications alone.”
Though Ava is hilarious and fresh, her backstory could have been more enriched and giving, some would say. Her backstory could have been one of success while still being fun and inviting. Abbott Elementary is progressive in some ways, but it has failed viewers in this instance.
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