Abbott Elementary – Season 2 Episode 11 “Read-A-Thon” Recap & Review


In Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 11, Janine and Gregory have an awkward encounter when they get back to school after break.

Jacob gets two signups for the after-school podcast club he’s starting with Gregory. They start making a podcast about Abbott Elementary with the students.

Janine and Melissa meanwhile embrace a competitive spirit for the upcoming school read-a-thon, where classes compete to see whose students read the most. Janine pushes back math lessons to make more time for her kids to read. In turn, Melissa demands that her kids start reading nonstop.

Her student Maya wants to read the most books in the class, but she’s not the best reader. And when Melissa’s three strongest readers get pink eye, Melissa is worried her class will fall behind.

Still, Janine and Melissa decide to raise the stakes in their competition: The loser has to be a guest on Jacob’s podcast.

Melissa gives her class an inspiring speech to get them reading. When her class pulls ahead, Janine accuses her of cheating. Melissa double-checks her reading reports and realizes that Maya and her parents faked her reading reports.

She has a talk with Maya’s parents, but they insist Maya can read 25 books in one night. Melissa suggests they get her tested so they can eliminate any issues she has with reading, but her parents don’t want to accept that she needs help with reading.

Melissa reruns the numbers and finds that Janine’s class wins the read-a-thon. Maya asks Melissa if she can be done with books now that the contest is over. Melissa asks her if reading can be tough for her. She finally admits it, and Melissa shows her some tricks to make it easier. She shares that she used to have the same struggle–but she grew up to love reading. Maya ends up taking a book from her teacher; she won’t give up on reading just yet.

The first theme of Jacob’s podcast is “Cafeteria Blues,” but it devolves into the students talking about rumors. They tell Jacob that they just want to be themselves. His style of podcasting just sounds like school.

Jacob insists they must master the rules of podcasting before breaking them, but Ava steps in to let the boys speak. In post-production, however, Jacob cuts out a lot of what the students said. They accuse him of censoring them and quit the podcast.

Ava tells Jacob he was trying to force the students to do what he wanted, and Jacob realizes he wasn’t being a good teacher to them.

Meanwhile, Janine is psyched about winning the read-a-thon, but Melissa finds a loophole in the rules. Since she has 2nd and 3rd graders in her classroom, she gets to add their totals together. 

Having lost the contest, Janine has to guest on Jacob’s podcast. The students come back because Jacob agreed to let them make it their own. And what they want to talk about with Janine and Gregory is how they were seen dancing together at a club. 

The Episode Review

This is not a Janine and Gregory episode, and yet it keeps the “will-they/won’t-they” dynamic alive and simmering. It’s the moments of awkward tension that begin and end this episode that I live for.

But the in-between has a lot of satisfying moments as well. I’m not sure you can call Janine’s and Melissa’s competition “friendly,” but it was definitely heated and entertaining, to say the least. Almost as good as seeing Jacob schooled by Ava and two students.

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