A lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, July 12, by Christine Davis, an aspiring writer and actress who claims that Brunson and ABC stole the premise of her show This School Year to create Abbott Elementary. Davis’ script was written in 2018 and registered with the copyright office in 2020; Brunson’s sitcom premiered on ABC in December 2021. Davis is seeking damages and a jury trial.
According to The Wrap, the suit alleges that the two shows are “striking and substantially similar,” including the “look and feel of the inner-city school, the mockumentary style, unique plot synopsis, set design and unique characters.” It also notes the “nearly identical” similarities between the scripts’ young teacher characters and older main characters and states that the opening episodes both have very similar plots.
In the suit, Davis reveals that she shared the script with Blue Park Productions’ Shavon Sullivan Wright and Cherisse Parks in mid-June and July of 2020, claiming that she had three meetings regarding her pilot script. Neither Wright nor Parks have any association with ABC or Abbott Elementary. Davis adds that Wright and Parks took her script to Hulu, who seemingly passed (Hulu and ABC are owned by Disney).
Representatives for Brunson, ABC, and Blue Park Productions have not yet responded to news of the case.
Abbott Elementary stars Brunson as a second-grade teacher at a fictional Black school in Philadelphia; it revolves around the lives of teachers working in the underfunded inner-city school system. The show became an instant hit with viewers and last week was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series.
Abbott Elementary, Season 2, Coming Fall 2022, Wednesdays, 9/8c, ABC (Season 1, Streaming now, Hulu)