Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Abbott Elementary Season 1 finale “Zoo Balloon.” Read at your own risk!
Abbott Elementary Season 1 came to a close over at ABC, and Quinta Brunson’s Janine made a pretty big decision before the credits rolled. After Tariq made a decision about his own future, she ultimately chose to continue on teaching at the school, meaning she had to “take a break” from Tariq.
Tariq is headed off to New York to work full-time for F.A.D.E., the anti-drug program he’s done work for. He is going to be doing tours at schools all over and even work on a rap album. He assumed that Janine would go to New York with him, considering their long history together, so he wasn’t exactly happy about her decision, and surprisingly, neither was Janine.
That might be surprising to some fans considering Abbott Elementary (which you can stream with a Hulu subscription) is seemingly trying to set up Janine and Gregory. Creator and star Quinta Brunson (who used her show to help real teachers) spoke with TVLine about Janine’s decision to let Tariq go to New York alone, and whether or not Janine’s decision was related to the idea of leaving Gregory behind:
I don’t think that he consciously factored in. Janine, once again, is a person who doesn’t know herself as well as we, the audience, know her. That’s a cool thing about mockumentary: You know way more about these characters than they know about themselves. It’s like who you are when no one’s watching. Sometimes you’re not ready to confront that person. Janine hasn’t even admitted that she has feelings for [Gregory]. The audience knows, but neither of these two characters have admitted it to themselves. So as of now, I don’t think that he has consciously played a part in her staying.
Quinta Brunson kind of put any speculation about Janine’s motivations to rest, but Team Gregory fans can rejoice all the same. Tariq is out of the picture for now, though it is worth noting that Janine didn’t completely close the door on their relationship. Obviously, it’s hard to let go of a relationship that’s gone on for that long, so it’s safe to say that he could come back in the picture.
For the record, it seems like Abbott Elementary (a show we highly recommend) might not be ready to write Tariq off the series yet, either. When asked why Janine and Gregory didn’t just end Season 1 together, Quinta Brunson said the timing of it didn’t feel right.
It felt like it’s too early in the series. In my head, I have an endgame for the entire show, every character. But say we wanted the room for that ‘Will They/Won’t They’ to mean nothing maybe or later, I wanted the room to do that. That’s why we ended it the way we did with Gregory on his own journey and Janine on her own journey. These are two characters where if they meet in the middle and they are together, then that’s fantastic. And we want the audience to feel that way, too. We hope that the audience eventually feels like, ‘You know what, I’m happy for them on their own, but we secretly all know we want them to get together.’ But we’re taking an old tradition and kind of trying to reinvent the wheel the way shows like Parks and Recreation, The Office, even like Sam and Diane, even Friends, all those [shows] have reinvented how that can look, and that’s our goal.
While it may not feel great that the obvious pairing of Abbott Elementary isn’t together, fans can at least know that there is a plan. Whether or not that plan sets up Janine and Gregory as the next Jim and Pam (even if the ABC series is different than The Office) or Ross and Rachel remains to be seen, though, so we’ll just have to wait for Season 2.
Abbott Elementary is done for the season at ABC, but Season 2 is already on the way. The wait for new episodes already feels unbearable, but with so many new shows headed to television in the coming weeks, hopefully the wait won’t feel too long.