Scoot over, Mr. Wonderful. There’s a new Shark Tank judge in town.
Abbott Elementary’s wonderful Season 2 debut last week was met with an equally hilarious second episode this week. While Sheryl Lee Ralph was easily the stand-out of the premiere, this episode spotlighted Janelle James’ ability to cruelly lead her school—and with the most uproar possible, every single time.
The Abbott teachers, who journey over to a fancy schmancy charter school in this episode, are still in a frenzy to figure out the grant situation. Janine (Quinta Brunson) sees just how great life can be on the other side of the world, and she then demands a computer for her young students. The kitchen needs more tools. You get the gist.
Luckily, Ava (James) has the perfect way to delegate the funds. The staff agree to compete in Abbott Elementary’s own version of Shark Tank—both shows air on ABC, so I suppose we can call this a crossover episode—and vouch for their projects to a panel of judges. Ava leads, joined by janitor Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis) and her sassiest student Courtney (Lela Hoffmeister).
For those who aren’t familiar, on Shark Tank, ambitious entrepreneurs present their product idea to a panel of wealthy investors. Mark Cuban, for example, is one of those judges (though he rarely invests). Occasionally, they’ll have guest sharks, like celeb-turned-entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow. Though there are some hilarious duds, popular products featured on Shark Tank have included Bombas socks, the Scrub Daddy, and the Squatty Potty.
Nothing as brilliant as the Scrub Daddy takes the floor during Abbott Elementary, but the staff do have some fantastic ideas for the school. The gym’s basketballs are all deflated. Mr. Johnson would like funding to become “the 007 of janitors.” And one teacher is pining after a sno-cone cart for the school.
The art of Shark Tank doesn’t lie in the actual products—though, on occasion, I find myself yearning after things like The Comfy—but rather, the sharks’ reactions to the ideas. This is exactly what Abbott Elementary gets right about Shark Tank, and it’s brilliant. Ava, Mr. Johnson, and Courtney aren’t impressed by the practical need for more tongs in the cafeteria. They are, however, intrigued by the idea of that sno-cone cart.
Combining Shark Tank and Abbott Elementary opens up a whole world of opportunities for the comedy show. The stars of Abbott already visited Celebrity Family Feud (sadly, they lost to the cast of Hacks). But what if their characters played a game show like Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune? Imagine the chaos that would devolve if Ava, Janine, Melissa, and Barbara had their own version of The View. The Bachelor also airs on ABC—the possibilities are endless.
Ava agrees to give the money to Janine to buy a computer, shockingly. But the minute after she pledges the grant money, mayhem erupts in the cafeteria. Dozens of rats careen under the tables, students and teachers leaping on top of the tables to avoid crushing them with their feet.
“This is why we needed more tongs,” the lunch lady says, calmly, as if this has already been a problem for weeks.
Ava strips Janine of her funds, cleaning up the cafeteria instead. That’s okay. There’s still enough money left over for one more project; Ava opts to give funding to a day with the sno-cone cart. It’s Chekhov’s sno-cone cart: From the very first mention, we knew that this episode was going to feature sno-cones in some way. It’s a necessity.
Though Ava’s Shark Tank bit wraps after this scene, personally, I could watch hours of the trio parsing through the school’s requests for funds. Hell, I would even watch them on an actual episode of Shark Tank! Get Janelle James as a guest shark, and let her start bidding on bacon-cooking alarm clocks and socks that come in sets of three. Or let Mark Cuban host Abbott’s Shark Tank redux. Either way, it’ll be a hoot.