Keep this classroom out the courtroom!
The same week Quinta Brunson made history with a historic number of Emmy Award nominations, a lawsuit reared its ugly head. Radar Online reports aspiring writer and actress Christine Davis filed a lawsuit accusing Brunson and ABC of stealing the idea for the new hit sitcom Abbott Elementary.
“Without [Davis’] permission, license, authority, or consent, [Brunson & ABC] knowingly and illegal used [Davis’] works to create the Abbott Elementary television show,” the lawsuit states.
Davis says the script for her show This School Year inspired Abbott’s “look and feel of the inner-city school, the mockumentary style, unique plot synopsis, set design and unique characters.” It sounds like she’s reaching more than teaching on this one.
“Additionally, the main characters are all stingingly and substantially similar. From the triad of young teachers whose roles are nearly identical,” the filing claims.
The suit even accuses Quinta of copying her lead character. This School Year’s main character Ms. Davis is a “young, idealistic young, idealistic teacher hoping to get tenure but also trying to convince everyone that the school needs to be reformed.”
According to the lawsuit, Davis wrote the script in 2018. She registered it with the United States Copyright Office in March 2020. She pitched the script to Shavon Sullivan Wright and Cherisse Parks at Shavon Sullivan Wright and Cherisse Parks at Blue Park Productions in July 2020. They allegedly told Davis that ABC and Hulu were looking for Black, female-led comedies.
By September of 2020, Abbott Elementary was already in production for its first season. Maybe Ms. Teagues needs to give her wannabe fellow teacher a math lesson because this doesn’t add up. Something about mentioning interest in Black women comedies sounds like the familiar racist whining about affirmative action.
Quinta often discussed that Abbott is a deeply personal project. She told Indie Wire that she got the idea from her mother, who recently retired from teaching. The school is based in Quinta’s hometown of Philadelphia. Even the name Abbott came from one of Quinta’s favorite teachers.
Brunson quietly sold the pitch to Warner Brothers, which has developed projects with her in the past. She sold the pitch to ABC and went on to write the pilot by herself. When did Quinta “booked and busy” Brunson have time to copy off of anybody else’s paper? It takes years to pull together all the deals, crew, and cast to make a show like this possible.
While she developed Abbott, Brunson also worked on several other projects, iZombie, Big Mouth and A Black Lady Sketch Show. Now that she’s making history with three Emmy nominations, here comes a hater with a lawsuit the next day. Isn’t that convenient?
Brunson earned nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Her co-stars Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph received nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Brunson’s on-screen love interest Tyler James Williams was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
Davis’ copyright infringement lawsuit is demanding all of Quinta and ABC’s profits from the show’s success. She tried it! If this is the best argument she’s got, leave it on the playground!