On the heels of writer and actress Quinta Brunson‘s historical Emmy nominations for her show Abbott Elementary, claims have surfaced accusing Brunson of copyright infringement. According to ET, the claimant is aspiring writer and actress Christine Davis, who insists that the premise of the show was taken from her script This School Year, and is now suing the ABC network and Brunson.
Reportedly, the court documents state Davis is asserting that the script she wrote for This School Year in 2018 was previously registered with copyright in early 2020. Allegedly, Davis met with Blue Parks producers, Shavon Sullivan Wright and Cherisse Parks in June and July of that year to discuss her script. She claims that these two producers – neither of which have a hand in Abbott Elementary – took This School Year to Hulu, and only months later filming began on Brunson‘s show. The claimant is asking for “damages of an unspecified amount,” a jury trial, and demands “Brunson and ABC turn over all profits they made from the show.”
The script that Davis is claiming has been stolen by Brunson takes place in a New York City public school with a very similar, “look and feel of the inner-city school, the mockumentary style, unique plot synopsis, set design, and unique characters,” according to court documents. She claims that the main character named Ms. David is a “young, idealistic teacher hoping to get tenure but also trying to convince everyone that the school needs to be reformed.” In This School Year, Davis says the principal hires a crew to film a documentary of the school, and is blissfully unaware that her staff and the students “have their own agenda.” The lawsuit goes on to allege that specific plot lines of the first episodes are similar, and that “Without [Davis‘] permission, license, authority, or consent, [Brunson & ABC] knowingly and illegally used [Davis‘] works to create the Abbott Elementary television show.”
Only days ago, immediately prior to Davis‘ accusations, Brunson and the ABC mockumentary Abbott Elementary earned an impressive total of seven Primetime Emmy nominations for their debut season, three of which creator and lead actress Brunson scored including Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The wins made history as Brunson became the youngest Black woman ever to receive three nominations under comedy.
The ABC sitcom follows a group of teachers and the brightly optimistic Janine Teagues (Brunson). Janine is a second-grade teacher who has managed to surpass the halfway mark of the forecasted two-year sanity limit at Philadelphia’s Willard R. Abbott Elementary School, and her optimism and devotion to her children drives through the core of each episode. While the elementary school is being filmed by a documentary crew seeking to chronicle the hardships of teachers in underfunded public schools, their principal, Ava Coleman (Janelle James), is somewhat removed from the reality of their situation. The show is a heartfelt tribute to the underpaid, overstressed teachers who dedicate their patience and commitment to education, aiming for laughs when sometimes it would be easier to break down.
On top of the three Emmy’s Brunson was nominated for, the show received two of the Outstanding Supporting Actress in Comedy slots for James and Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard, an Outstanding Supporting Actor nomination for Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie, and Outstanding Casting for Comedy. In June, after receiving high acclaim with critics and audiences, Abbott Elementary announced their confirmed second season’s premiere for September 21 after their renewal in March.
All of Abbott Elementary Season 1 is available to stream on Hulu.