The cast says we are going to see a lot more Philly this season, far beyond the halls of Abbott Elementary.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The third season of 'Abbott Elementary' is finally here!
6abc got a sneak peek at what's in store for the show that's based on a Philadelphia school and created by a Philadelphian.
"I think this season is where you should expect the unexpected," says West Philadelphia native, creator and star Quinta Brunson.
Brunson says even her cast was surprised by where this season takes them.
"I realized talking to Janelle (James) that she never knew what was coming in the scripts," Brunson says, referring to her costar who plays Ava Coleman. "That was great because that's kind of what we wanted to do. We wanted to pack a punch in the writers' room. If the cast didn't see it coming, that's a very good sign for the audience."
Production was on halt during the Writers' Guild of America and SAG-Aftra strikes last summer, so finally getting to Season 3 feels extra special.
Brunson based the show on her mother's experiences as a kindergarten teacher in West Philly.
"People always say that our show is their comfort show," Brunson says. "I think that's the beauty of comedy. You get to be somebody's friend through a joke or through a comedy show."
The award-winning cast says this season goes there.
"Don't get too comfortable," laughed Sheryl Lee Ralph, who plays Barbara Howard. "This writing staff is just another step beyond. It is not your typical sitcom. If you think we're gonna 'zig,' trust me, we're gonna 'zag.'"
Ralph's character was inspired by Brunson's mom, Norma.
She takes her role on set seriously.
"I have the best classroom," Ralph brags, of her classroom full of child actors. "My children are the most behaved. They know when they come into that classroom what is expected of them. Most of them rise to the challenge."
Ralph spends a lot of time in Philadelphia. She's married to State Senator Vincent Hughes. Ralph is known for her big talent and her even bigger energy.
"She walks on set and we're singing Chaka Khan," says Lisa Ann Walter, who plays Melissa Schemmenti. "It's always a 'big queen' moment. We have a lot of fun!"
Last summer, we had a chance to take Walter to some of Philly's most delicious and iconic spots. She had a chance to meet local Abbott Elementary fans.
"Philly's pretty special," Walter says. "Having spent time there and meeting people in Philly. They're Abbott family."
They tell us we are going to see a lot more Philly this season, far beyond the halls of Abbott Elementary.
"We're bringing in a bar," said Tyler James Williams, who plays Gregory Eddie. "There's a neighborhood bar now. After we went to the Franklin Institute, we realized how special it is to use Philly as a backdrop."
Watch 'Abbott Elementary' on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on 6abc and streaming on Hulu.