Post Mortems

Abbott Elementary's Quinta Brunson Talks Janine and Gregory's Confession, Teases 'Interesting, New Dynamic'

Abbott Elementary Recap

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Wednesday’s Abbott Elementary finale. Proceed at your own risk!

Abbott Elementary gave Janine/Gregory ‘shippers something to celebrate during Wednesday’s Season 2 finale — but it wasn’t all good news.

Encouraged by Jacob, Gregory told Janine that he has feelings for her during an overnight field trip. Despite her hesitancy to respond right away, Janine confessed that she likes him, too, but she’s not feeling so great about herself after a conversation with her ex Maurice, who called her selfish and said she hurt him.

So while there’s definitely something between her and Gregory, Janine decided that she can’t risk hurting Gregory and losing him as a friend. If they did enter a relationship, it would be something real, the pair concluded. And for now, Janine needs to be selfish and put her own growth first.

“I guess I’m not ready for him,” Janine told the documentary crew, while Gregory remarked that it was “time to plant something new.”

Below, star/creator Quinta Brunson breaks down Janine and Gregory’s finale confession and why it excites her for Season 3.

TVLINE | It felt like this season, after that kiss between Janine and Gregory, that it was moving towards them taking a big step forward, but ultimately, they weren’t quite on the same page about that. How did you decide on where their dynamic should land at the end of the season?
We always try to think about Janine and Gregory as individuals first, separate characters. They’re not a couple. They had that teachers’ conference moment, but they are also two people who have not fully expressed their feelings to each other yet. We started talking about it a lot in the [writers’] room, and it’s like, the cameras know, Jacob knows, but they don’t really know that about each other. So we felt like it was important enough for their growth for them to just admit it to each other. I thought that was an exciting moment in young people’s lives, and I wanted them to, especially Jeanine, at the end of this kind of growth path we’ve had for her this season, I wanted her to be able to make a decision that she felt was best for herself after learning new information about herself. It’s more about maturity. She’s maturing, he’s maturing. We wanted that mature path to continue for them both as individuals. I kind of want the characters to be able to grow a little bit more as individuals, so we can see where they land.

TVLINE | You and I have talked before about how timing is so important with these kinds of will they/won’t they storylines. How did you navigate that line this season of keeping the tension alive, but not dragging things out? Because it did feel like we got some forward progress with them.
I tried to examine my own dating life in the past and with the writers, too. It’s fairy tale-like for everything to go exactly right and exactly as planned. But very often in our dating lives, you have these weird things that happen when you’re like, “That’s weird. I, like, danced with that guy, but we never said we like each other,” or, “I kissed that person, but we’re not together. In fact, they’re dating someone else now, and their feelings about me were never made clear.” I think that you can still keep tension and not have the two characters be together or not be together. I really want to play with the middle ground of dating. Our show isn’t about dating. It’s about this school, it’s about the kids, etc. So Janine and Gregory are not the No. 1 storyline of Abbott. It’s the school and the kids. So it feels good to kind of have them be a mess in the background, because it’s very often how dating goes. Any person who’s under the age of 35 can attest that dating in this climate, especially when it comes to the apps and all this other stuff, it’s not easy at all. And it doesn’t mean the tension goes away. It doesn’t mean the hope goes away either. I think that was a cool balance we found. We can keep hope, disappointment and tension….

Abbott Elementary RecapTVLINE | Gregory telling Janine, “I take all of your recommendations seriously. I want to know why you like stuff,” is one of the most unexpectedly romantic lines I’ve ever heard.
I loved that when I first read that one. It’s sweet, right? It’s not big. And I think that’s another thing that’s exciting with Janine and Gregory is their moments aren’t huge, right? They’re huge to us, because we’re watching, but sometimes, it’s a small gesture like that that makes someone special to you. And I love being able to show that with them, how important the small moments are.

TVLINE | Yeah, it shows thoughtfulness and intent and a desire to want to understand the other person.
Yeah. Even starting out with that, he’s still getting to know her, and I think it’s really special. And she’s still getting to know him. I know that as viewers, it’s like, “Just get together already!” but they have a lot of growing, learning and experimenting to do.

TVLINE | I want to talk about what Maurice said to Janine, because selfish is not a word that I would ever associate with her. Does she really think she’s selfish?
I think she does after the interaction, yeah. I don’t think Janine has ever been confronted with someone telling her, straight up, “What you did hurt me,” and if we look back at the Jeanine and Maurice situation, like the way that she broke things off with him wasn’t exactly fair. It was like a little out of left field for him, and Gregory was there, and then she got to go on about her life. I think a lot of times in dating situation, one person can be like, “I wasn’t being selfish. I was doing what I felt was the right thing. I was doing the best I could,” but the other person can receive it as selfish. Now, just because Maurice said it, it’s not necessarily true. But I do think Janine believes it on this day. It’s the first time she’s hearing it from a guy that she thinks she’s about to have this fun, friendly conversation with, and it’s like, no, this person feels as though you’ve hurt their feelings. They’re hurt, and you didn’t even know you did it. And I think that’s just something she doesn’t want to do to Gregory or anyone.

TVLINE | So do the ‘shippers have Maurice to be angry at? If it wasn’t for him, would she have maybe gotten together with Gregory at the end?
Yeah, maybe so. Not to throw Maurice under the bus. [Laughs]

Abbott Elementary RecapTVLINE | Now that Janine and Gregory have been honest with each other about how they feel, even if they’re not together, how does that change things as you look towards Season 3?
I’m so excited to get into it. I think that Gregory has to figure out how he really feels about that information, knowing that, “OK, this person isn’t ready to be with me yet, isn’t ready to take the leap. So do I take that leap with someone else? Do I wait for that person?” And I think there’s probably going to be more conversations about it in the future. I think Janine, being the “I believe I can do anything” person she is, will kind of be like, “OK, I’m gonna make myself ready. I don’t feel ready yet, but I’m gonna make myself a good enough person to be in a relationship and be ready for this.” And I think there’ll be some more miscommunication there. I don’t think you can stop people from living their lives, from new love interests, from continuing to live. So it’ll be an interesting, new dynamic, which is exciting for us as writers. What do we do with these two people who know that they like each other but aren’t together yet? In fact, one was rejected by the other. That usually changes things.

Abbott Elementary RecapTVLINE | One of the sweet surprises of the episode was how the Jeanine and Gregory storyline actually brought Gregory and Jacob closer together as friends in a really genuine way. Is that a dynamic you hope to explore more in Season 3?
Absolutely. I can’t wait to see what they look like now as friends, people who are actually close now, coworkers and real friends. I think it’ll be very important for the next season. Their friendship is going to be necessary. I’m excited about their friendship. It’s been a long time coming. And I still think we’ll have that fun dynamic where Jacob gets on Gregory’s nerves. Maybe Gregory will start to get on Jacob’s nerves. That’s always fun to see. But I’m so excited about their friendship. I think people are going to be happy that they’re actually friends now.

Abbott Elementary fans, what did you think of the season ender? Grade it below, then hit the comments!