I'm An Abbott Elementary Fan, But Am Really Starting To Abhor Janine And Gregory's Whole Awkward Vibe

 Janine and Gregory sitting together and smiling in a school bus on Abbott Elementary.
Janine and Gregory sitting together and smiling in a school bus on Abbott Elementary.

As one of broadcast TV’s few remaining sitcoms, Abbott Elementary has a lot going for it, from the stellar ensemble cast to the variety of Philly-specific guest stars to the mix of verbal and physical comedy. But one storyline that quickly became a fan-favorite, Janine and Gregory’s will they/won’t they? dynamic, is still the most prevalent way for the series to showcase its emotional and dramatic side. But after three seasons of this, I’m really starting to loathe their whole-ass vibe, from cringe to cutesy.

It’s Less “Will They/Won’t They?” And More “When The Hell Is This Gonna Happen?”

Don't get me wrong: I completely understand the appeal of drawing out the romantic tension between two characters who, whether through plot machinations or just natural actor chemistry, are deemed to be a potentially perfect coupling. The very concept shot Friends’ Ross and Rachel, as well as The Office’s Jim and Pam, into the upper echelon of TV relationships.

But while the aforementioned characters and many others featured relevant factors that kept them from initially getting together, Janine and Gregory really only have “the potential discomfort of dating a coworker” as a repeatedly referenced obstacle, unless the writers keep setting them up with one-off dates as distractions. As such, Janine and Gregory basically lost the “Will they?” part of the question early on in Season 2, and it’s been a long stretch of missed opportunities to let them shine in the meantime.

I Adore Optimistic And Bubbly Janine, Not Awkward And Melancholy Janine

Having showcased her talents on past projects such as A Black Lady Sketch Show, Quinta Brunson crafted a true sitcom queen in Janine, and a big part of her appeal is Brunson's naturally charming nature, and a smile that can light up a whole elementary gymnasium during a power outage. Not to mention the fact that she's one of the few TV characters who remains both inspiratonal and aspirational in equal doses.

And while I can jokingly say that people who smile all the time are annoying, I genuinely love Janine's positive nature, especially in the face of other teachers' snark, but also when she's having a genuinely even-keeled moment with Tyler James Williams' garden-loving educator. So it's exceedingly meh whenever Abbott Elementary delivers storylines that set Janine up for failure, which is pretty much her whole love life up to this point. I don't care if it's something beyond hooking up that makes her happy, so long as she is.

Gregory’s Blind Date Was Abbott Elementary At Its Worst

Truth be told, if the episode "Double Date" didn't exist, I might not be exuding these feelings with such emotive feracity. But holy shit, the bar scenes in that episode were the absolute worst, shattering whatever threads of legitimacy were still there for a show that long ago stopped making sense of its documentary-making camera crew. (It really made me hindsight-judge Williams for his past comments about wanting things to reflect real life.)

Why? Because Gregory came across as bafflingly pathetic in his inability to stop watching Janine like a jealous hawk, in spite of the lovely and interested woman sitting next to him.

Gregory sitting with Jacob in bar on a blind date in Abbott Elementary
Gregory sitting with Jacob in bar on a blind date in Abbott Elementary

I was already thinking Gregory and Lana Candor's Olivia were cute as buttons together when the first images were released. But that was before I knew Gregory would defy all sense of good manners, couth, humanity, etc. by going all suspicious vulture on Janine and Manny, whose presence was revealed to be work-related, and nothing as salacious as Williams' character thought. After that asinine and self-centered display, Gregory doesn't deserve Olivia, Janine, or even Jacob's companionship.

Janine And Gregory Would Actually Be A Happy Couple, So The Drama Is 100% Unnecessary

Creatively speaking, the idea of a "will they / won't they" dynamic works best if there are reasons to believe a show's dynamic will be threatened by the in-question couple getting together. But as far as I'm concerned, Janine and Gregory's courtship would be a boon for the show's comedy, especially when it comes to in-school sequences.

Janine and Gregory are so often trolled (if lovingly at times) by Barbara, Melissa, Ava and even Mr. Johnson, and usually for their good-natured optimism. So can you imagine what they would work like as a tag team of pure joy? Faster than a speeding mop bucket, more powerful than a firetruck driven by one of the Schemmentis, able to leap tall church steeples in a single bound: it's Janine and Gregory, bitches!

The only hesitance I feel surrouding the two teachers actually hooking up and becoming an item comes from the fear that that creative team would keep throwing potential disasters their way just for the sake of drama, rather than allowing this show's cheesiest pairing to thrive in that cheese. After all, should the biggest plot thrust of a show named after an elementary school really be a drawn-out non-relationship between two of the teachers? Not on my syllabus.

Tyler James Williams himself has said he doesn't think Janine and Gregory need to be together, and if that's the way the writers want to take things in the future, I'm okay with that as well, since I'm still holding out hope for Josh Segurra's Manny to be in every single scene. But if that is the case, then Abbott needs to pull the plug on the will they / won't they element altogether.

Abbott Elementary airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET, with the Season 3 finale taking place on May 22. Episodes are available to stream the next day with a Hulu subscription.