‘Abbott Elementary’ Creator Quinta Brunson Says There’s ‘No More Games’ Between Janine and Gregory After Season 3 Finale Cliffhanger

Note: The following story contains spoilers from the “Abbott Elementary” Season 3 finale.

After several false starts between Janine and Gregory in “Abbott Elementary,” creator and star Quinta Brunson said there’s “no more games” between the two teachers following their big moment in the Season 3 finale.

Wednesday’s episode followed as Janine (Brunson) threw an end of the school year party at her apartment, which was well-attended by the teachers, Janine’s district colleagues and the group’s acquaintances. With concerns about how pursuing a relationship might impact their professional dynamic — as well as looming jealousies — hanging over their heads, Janine and Gregory (Tyler James Williams) shared a near-kiss at the party before hesitantly parting ways.

But at the end of the episode, Gregory returned to Janine’s apartment as Janine started to chase after Gregory. The pair came face-to-face and shared a passionate kiss, marking what Brunson calls a “cognitive decision” for both characters.

“The writers and I talked a lot about it. We wanted both of them to head towards each other,” Brunson told TheWrap. “That’s what we haven’t necessarily seen yet — We’ve seen one head toward the other, the other be skeptical … both pulling back but [we wanted] both characters saying, ‘You know what, whatever, I want this person. I’m going for them.'”

Whereas Janine and Gregory’s drunken Season 2 kiss was easy for the couple to brush off as being caught up in the moment, Brunson noted the pair is now “on the same page” by the Season 3 finale, saying “I think it’s different when two people are deliberate about their decisions, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.”

“People stumble through relationships all the time — there are false starts all the time, especially in modern-day dating,” Brunson said, adding she’s talked to many people who are not sure if they’re dating someone even if they’ve shared intimate moments together.

“They don’t know what they’re doing until they do, which … is the moment where we’re at now,” Brunson said. “They both know what they’re doing. They both know what they want. They’re saying it out loud — No more games.”

Below, Brunson reveals the real-life inspiration behind Janine’s party, why she wanted her character to share a paternal moment with Mr. Johnson and what to expect from Season 4.

Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and William Stanford Davis on the “Abbott Elementary” Season 3 finale (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

TheWrap: This finale was such a fun way to see different sides of a handful of the teachers. How did this storyline for Janine’s party come about and why did you want to finish out Season 3 on this note?

Quinta Brunson: I thought it was really great to have a celebration for a very unique season for us as writers and for us as actors coming off the strikes. I just was excited for our characters to have a celebration too, especially for Janine, going on a journey of her own, and landing back at Abbott — it just felt like cause for celebration, and I felt like something she’d want to do to really solidify that she had landed on who she was, exactly what career she was going to be doing.

It was fun to figure out what kind of person Janine would be about a party — How someone like her, who can be very focused and an overthinker, how that kind of person would be overthinking a party.

Selfishly, it was motivated by me all year saying I was going to throw a party at my house and never getting to it and my writers giving me s–t about it, because I kept saying I was going to but we kept getting busy.

Janine shares a sweet moment with Mr. Johnson that encourages her to follow her heart when it comes to Gregory. Why did you want Janine to get that wisdom specifically from Mr. Johnson?

I’m always excited about pairings that we haven’t necessarily seen before in our show, and we realized that that was one that hadn’t really come up yet. Especially after Janine going on that journey to kind of find her father this season, it felt rewarding for her to have some kind of a father in Mr. Johnson, and for him as kind of our resident ball of chaos to give her the advice to follow her heart and throw caution to the wind, because it’s what he does every day and it’s why he’s had such a full life. I think he just wants to see both Janine and Gregory have a full life too and to not be so hung up on the societal worries.

Looking into next season, will Janine and Gregory finally be exploring a relationship? What are some obstacles they might face?

Expect more of the typical 20-something obstacles. I do think next season will be interesting because, unlike this one where Janine was at the district for a lot of the time and Gregory was focused on the garden goofballs at the school, we’ll have them both in the workplace again. I think that’s going to make for some really interesting situations for their characters.

How much has been written so far? What new storylines or themes are you hoping to explore in Season 4?

Our writers’ room starts June 3. I always have a loose, kind of firm plan on where I want to take things, but I really love to get into the room with my writers and really discuss what we all want to bring to the table for the season. We’re going to be back to 22 episodes, so we have a lot of time and you want to use it wisely and then in fun ways.

Naturally, I feel like people can expect more holiday episodes, which we were low on this year because of when we started airing but I can’t wait to do another Christmas episode, a Halloween episode —all the holidays. I’m excited to kind of get back to a regular pace and have some longer arcs over the 22 episodes. 14 [episodes] was truncated — I don’t feel that we had the room that we had in 22 to develop multiple arcs. I have some ideas, but I can’t wait to get them in the room and flesh them out and see how it goes.

Will the employees from the district, including Manny, be showing back up in Season 4? Can you tease anything about what other guest stars we might see?

Whenever we introduce a character, they’re always in our world. There’s always going to be a school district, which makes me feel like our school district characters always have the opportunity to be seen again.

I say all the time, even though people don’t listen, we really do write characters first, we’re very rarely thinking about a specific person that we want to start something in the room. Part of that is because of the climate nowadays — you never know if you’re gonna get the person you want. That’s the beauty of just writing a good character and then hoping you get some great actors, known or unknown, to come play the role. I just hope no matter what, we have great actors portraying great characters.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

“Abbott Elementary” will return for Season 4 this fall on ABC at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Seasons 1-3 are now available to stream on Hulu, with the Season 3 finale landing on Hulu the day after its ABC debut.

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