Abbott Elementary Included a Link to the A+ Parent Trap for Fans


Lisa Ann Walter may be killing it these days in the role of Melissa Schemmenti, a second-grade street teacher at Abbott Elementary School, but the actress earned her place in the hearts of many fans as much as 25 years ago. Back in 1998, Walter played Chessie in the remake of The Parent Trap starring Lindsay Lohan, and there was no more beloved character than a housekeeper/nanny/butler (what was Chessie’s job really like?). Walter knows how beloved her character remains, and she added a fantastic reference to the classic movie in the second season of the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom, much to the delight of fans.

In the episode “The Director’s Office”, aired in October, Melissa invites Janine (Quinta Brunson) to my home for a cooking lesson. While Melissa wears an A+ wardrobe while she’s at work, Lisa Ann Walter wanted her character to be more laid-back after hours, telling EW that it inspired her decision for the “Parent Trap” Easter egg. Walter said:

I wanted to dress a little differently at home. They said, “Well, what do you want?” And I said: “I’m in my kitchen. We’re standing over the food. Let me throw a little Easter egg to the Chessie fans because they are so loud and I love them and they all dress up like a character. So let me do this.

Anyone who has seen the “Parent Trap” probably remembers Chessie’s casual button-down denim shirt unbuttoned over high-waisted khaki pants. According to Lisa Ann Walter, fans have recreated this image many times over the past couple of decades. However, despite his obvious popularity, Walter was not sure that a subtle hint of the classic housekeeper would fly over the heads of fans. She remembered her conversation with the costume designer:

I showed her the iconic image of this scene — that everyone is dressed as they send me their photos dressed as a character. I said, “You don’t have to make chinos, but let’s make a shirt.” And I didn’t think people would necessarily get it. I thought it would be just for me. Or a couple of people understand it because they are really passionate about it, but everyone has figured it out and is going crazy about it. It was really fun.

I love that Lisa Ann Walter wanted to make a link, even if she was just doing it for herself. However, this turned out not to be the case, as fans knew exactly what was going on when they saw Melissa’s home uniform, and Twitter fans approved:

In fact, they did more than approve. Fan comments flooded social media, who said they “love, love, love Melissa’s Chessie vibes” as they celebrated the return of their empathetic hero in jeans. The commentators seemed to be going crazy about the Easter egg:

It was certainly an exciting moment for longtime “Parent Trap” fans, and we have Lisa Ann Walter to thank for that. For those who want to experience the magic of Lindsay Lohan, the 1998 film is available for streaming on a Disney+ subscription. Also, if you want to see Walter recreate the image, episodes of Abbott Elementary can be streamed on a Hulu subscription. New episodes of the sitcom air at 21:00. ET on Wednesdays on ABC and check out our TV program for 2023 to find out what other premieres are expected in the near future.


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