Quinta Brunson wants a lawsuit against her show dismissed in court. Last year, writer Christine Davis filed the suit, accusing the Abbott Elementary creator of copying the concept of her show This School Year.
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Davis filed a federal lawsuit against Quinta, ABC, and the production companies behind Abbott back in July 2022. Per the outlet, court documents detailed that Davis felt that the concept and characters in Abbott were mimicked from her show.
“Without [Davis’] permission, license, authority, or consent, [Brunson & ABC] knowingly and illegal used [Davis’] works to create the Abbott Elementary television show,” the suit reads.
Per the documents, Davis claimed to have written her script in 2018 and registered it with the United States Copyright Office in March 2020. Abbott Elementary premiered on ABC a year later.
As many have come to love the concept, Abbott Elementary is a mockumentary series that follows the struggles of inner-city teachers at a public school in Philadelphia. This School Year allegedly has a mockumentary style as well, but takes place in a New York public school setting.
Comparing her script to Brunson’s, Davis claims the main character in the show is a woman named Ms. David who is a “young, idealistic teacher hoping to get tenure but also trying to convince everyone that the school needs to be reformed.”
Davis also believes Brunson came in contact with her script ahead of Abbott’s production in September 2020, and then was casted in that role and named the creator of the show. She claims she took her work to two women named Shavon Sullivan Wright and Cherisse Parks at Blue Park Productions in July 2020. But after multiple meetings, her script went no where.
Brunson and ABC not only want the case dismissed, but have their attorney fees paid by the defendant. According to the filing, Brunson’s team says the two works are not comparable.
“Starting with reading the very first page of Plaintiff’s treatment, it is evident that the concept and feel of the works are wholly dissimilar,” Brunson’s legal reps stated in the court documents. “While This School Year begins with a second-grade teacher Ms. Davis, slamming a book against her face at the idea that a new school year is starting, Abbott Elementary begins with a bubbly, positive, and optimistic second grade teacher, Janine Teagues, gushing about how excited she is to be starting another year with her students.”
The filing reportedly continues, “The remainder of the Abbott Elementary story focuses on Ms. Teagues and her colleagues doing everything they can to support their students despite the lack of resources and administrative support, while This School Year is much more cynical and is focused on the displeasure of the teachers at the prospect of teaching at P.S. 311.”
Brunson’s attorney argued, “the characters of the works are not similar either. [Davis] characterizes the protagonists of the two shows, Ms. Davis and Ms. Teagues, as ‘ambitious, young, motivated, and naïve characters,’ but in This School Year, Ms. Davis is already jaded about the inner workings of her school.”
“Ms. Davis is often miserable, seen literally screaming ‘from the top of her lungs’ and throwing a book in despair …By contrast, if there was one word to describe Ms. Teagues, it would be ‘enthused.'”
A ruling has not been made in the case of Christine Davis against Quinta Brunson and ABC behind Abbott Elementary.