Why Quinta Brunson Won’t Do a School Shooting Episode for ‘Abbott Elementary’: “I Don’t Want to Open Up My Show to That Political Violence”

Quinta Brunson says there are “two different realities” to teaching — and a school shooting episode wouldn’t fit into the reality Abbott Elementary’s universe is most focused on.

The star and creator of the hit ABC workplace comedy has yet again responded to a question around why her series wouldn’t do a topical episode on the difficult subject in an extensive Women of the Year cover story with Glamour, in which she’s interviewed by fellow Philadelphian and Meet the Press host Kristen Welker.

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The Emmy winner went on to explain that there were ultimately “two reasons” why that issue wouldn’t make sense for the series, despite her “knowing that school shootings happen all the time, every day or every week, unfortunately.

“I just think about the day-to-day in a workplace comedy, and I don’t think that that’s the realistic day-to-day in the classroom,” she explained. “There are two different realities. There’s the one present in the classroom where teachers are just trying to get through a lesson. And then there’s the outside perspective of us engaging with teachers through the news.”

Brunson compared her thought process on this topic to her approach to race on the comedy, in which she says she “really wanted to lead with everyday story first, and let everything fold into that.

“I wanted to talk about, instead of ‘Janine confronts her Blackness,’ or ‘Janine deals with this race issue,’ it’s really just like, ‘Janine is trying to change a light bulb.’ I think that’s the way the majority of the people that I [know are],” she told the magazine. “When they’re at work, the issue at work is just the task at hand.”

Speaking directly to the challenges around situating a school shooting episode within the Abbott Elementary universe, the writer and actress says that while for audiences “these school shootings are the biggest thing happening,” talking to her friends who are currently working as teachers has shown that “yes, that’s huge, but today they’re just trying to get through this lesson.

“They’re just trying to get the reading scores up. They’re just trying to do this job,” she continued. “If anything, the school shooting thing is in the background, like, ‘Fuck.’ It’s kind of like, ‘We got to deal with that too?'”

Brunson admits that it’s ultimately “complicated” and that she isn’t sure she wants to dedicate the space she has with the hit comedy to what tackling that topic could do within the larger culture.

“I don’t want to open up my show to that political violence,” she explained. “I consider it that at this point — even the discourse of it is violent. And although I participate in it outside of my show, and I’m a huge advocate for eradicating gun violence in this country … I don’t think my show has to carry that.”

Brunson previously spoke about why she wouldn’t cover the issue on X, formerly known as Twitter, last year after fans tweeted and direct messaged her about it following a then-recent school shooting in Texas. At the time, the Abbott Elementary creator shared that gun violence had affected her family personally, but suggested viewers focus on getting their elected officials to prioritize addressing the issue through legislation versus asking TV shows to highlight the troubling reality in their narratives.

“[P]eople are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment,'” she wrote. “Gun violence is a constant, day after day problem. Mass shootings are only part of it. Stop saying nothing can be done. … If you vote, demand more from the people you elected to change laws.”

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