'Abbott Elementary' Cast Says Season 2 Will 'Expand the World Significantly' for Fans (Exclusive)

Abbott Elementary art

The Emmy-winning cast tells ET what fans can expect in the new season premiering Sept. 21!

It's time to head back to class! ABC's acclaimed comedy series Abbott Elementary kicks off its sophomore season on Wednesday, and no one is more excited for the new chapter more than the award-winning cast.

ET caught up with star and creator Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walter, William Stanford Davis and Sheryl Lee Ralph, to dive into what fans can expect in the upcoming season. According to the cast, season 2 goes deeper.

Brunson previously revealed that fans will see a new side of their favorite onscreen characters as the show ventures beyond the elementary school and into their homes. Williams shared that the move from classroom to home opens a "new world" for the comedy series. 

"I think it expands the world significantly -- we're playing with not just going home but then seeing them out in other locations, which I think we don't think about a lot with our teachers," the former child star noted. "I didn't realize until we started this season [where] we had an episode about prepping and getting started [for a new school year], and I'm like, in my head I always just thought they lived [at school]. They were just always at the school, like you can't possibly have lives outside of this! We get to see that and it makes them more real and tangible, and it kinda shows how their personal lives affect how they do their jobs."

Fans have gotten peeks at the lives of Ralph's Barbara, Perfetti's Jacob, Williams' Gregory and James' Ava outside the school before, even meeting Barbara's daughter, Taylor (Iyana Halley). But season 2 will go beyond mere glimpses.


Brunson has been notably excited about venturing into the teachers' lives, telling ET that homes are "special places" that provide insight into characters' mindsets like nothing else. 

"For me, in the first season, I really wanted Abbott to feel like the home of this show. I wanted the audience to feel like Abbott is their home, these are their coworkers, the halls that they walked in, and I think that we accomplished that," she explained. "So now it feels that we can get more personal with these characters and instead of giving that upfront, I decided to delve into the personal lives a bit more in season 2."

Perfetti teased that fans will learn why Jacob is, what some people might consider, "slightly corny." 

"I think the brilliant thing about season 2 is that our writers and Quinta have really kind of severed expectations when it comes to a sense," he added. "We're obviously going to be hanging out at school but we're going to be figuring out why these people are the way that they are and they chose the storylines and plots that kind of subvert expectations and are really specific -- not kind of like quintessential school tropes, you know."

Fans saw a bit of that with the perpetually online school principal Ava, whom James played coy about when asked what viewers will learn about in the upcoming season. "I believe it's no one’s business," she joked, teasing that fans may find something "surpassing" what they previously knew about the character, but she wasn't able to share. "She just is what she is." 

Even the school's ever-aloof janitor is getting in on the fun, with Davis promising that fans will be "really surprised" by the things the eccentric custodian, Mr. Johnson, gets into. "It's going to be a lot of fun," the new series regular vowed.

For fans hoping that digging into personal lives will include some more sparks between Janine and Gregory, none of the cast made any promises. Quite literally, Brunson told ET, "I can’t promise where the sparks will come from, but this season will have sparks."

Mysterious and a little bit ominous for anyone hanging onto the strong "will they, won't they" vibes between the two characters. But Williams isn't terribly worried, and said he's just happy playing the Dywane Wade to Brunson's LeBron James.

The actor explained that Brunson had been "really hands on" throughout the casting process, with the creator personally reaching out to the Everybody Hates Chris alum through social media. "[She was] like essentially recruiting," he joked. 

"So even before that pilot season came around, I knew what I was going to end up doing," he added. "Then she just assembled this cast of what feels like the Miami Heat of that time. She just put the pieces together and when I'm on set with them, that's what it feels like -- it feels like I'm watching a bunch of people hone their game down, just having fun like we did in that Miami Heat era."

Perfetti echoed the sentiment, sharing that generally, actors get used to thing "not working out," so the success of the show and the cohesiveness of the cast is something to be appreciated. "The fact that this is going as smoothly and as satisfyingly as it is, is just a real gift. It feels really cool," he added. "It's only when it happens [that] you realize how rare [it is] for you to get along with everybody as well as you do, for you to be surrounded by as much oozing talent as you are and for audiences to be into it as well. There [are] so many things that could go wrong and when a lot of them go right at the same time, its beautiful."


That final element is why Brunson is so excited for viewers to get into the new season of Abbott

The former Buzzfeed star explained that, to her, the most important part of the formula is that people enjoy the series. "Even when the pilot first premiered and not that many people knew about the show yet -- watching people respond to that and just genuinely enjoy watching it [was big]," she recalled, remembering when a fan stopped her at Universal Studios to share her love for the series after the pilot premiered on ABC. 

"This one girl had seen it the night before and was over the moon about just the pilot. She didn’t know me, she didn’t know about BuzzFeed, she didn’t know about anything and that really solidified for me that we had something special," she shared. "Something that made this girl remember my face from the pilot and she didn’t know I made the show but she didn’t have to. She just enjoyed the show she watched so much that it had stuck with her."

Abbott Elementary season 2 premieres on ABC Wednesday, Sept. 21.