After another ambitious, star-studded, hilarious season that took educators and viewers alike out of school more than ever before, Abbott Elementary slid (literally) into its Season 3 finale with Janine (Quinta Brunson) and Gregory’s (Tyler James Williams) relationship in a complicated place. In Season 3, Episode 14, aptly titled “Party,” however, fans who’ve been shipping the co-workers together for years have serious cause for celebration.

The phenomenal finale finds Janine throwing a party for friends and colleagues in honor of the last day of school. To kick off summer, she meticulously plans the event to ensure each individual guest has a blast, but when the fun dies down and all her guests leave, she realizes it’s time to pursue her own happiness. She heads to the door in hopes of catching up to Gregory and admitting she wants to be with him. To her surprise, he’s already standing in her doorway under her formerly flickering broken light. After uttering four super sexy words (“I fixed your light”), he shoots the camera a palpable “scram!” glance, and sweeps Janine in his arms for a passionate kiss.

“We talked about that one scene for it feels like two weeks. And I’m happy it came together so well,” Williams told Decider via Zoom ahead of the big episode. “I could tell [Quinta] was very concerned about landing this the right way — not only in how we shot it and how it was written, but how she performed it… The stakes were very high for her, I could tell, with this scene. And I think, once again, she executed it perfectly.”

In honor of Abbott Elementary‘s Season 3 finale, Williams shed some light (haha, get it?) on Janine and Gregory’s big kiss, how the season was altered as a result of the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, our shared love of Josh Segarra’s Manny, his dream guest stars, what to expect in Season 4, and more.

DECIDER: We obviously have to start at the end. Janine and Gregory finally take the leap and share an incredibly romantic kiss. It’s been such a long journey for them. What were your thoughts when you first read that scene in the script? Did it feel right to you?

TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS: Yeah, it felt super right. So we had always been talking about that — we were getting to the moment at the end of Season 3 where we would be making the feelings concrete and mutual. We knew just how were we going to get there, and I think the strike is what made that difficult, because we didn’t know how many episodes we would have and what we would be able to really work with. But the way it was executed — from the line about the light at the door to how much of it played with no dialogue [and] how many looks to camera we chose — that was one of the times when we really picked out those looks. We talked about that one scene for it feels like two weeks, and I’m happy it came together so well.

Photo: Disney/Gilles Mingasson

I know you’ve said in the past that you didn’t necessarily want to see Janine and Gregory end up together because you valued their platonic love. Has that changed? If it were up to you would the show have delayed the kiss and watched the friendship play out a bit more?

No. I feel like that’s the story we’ve been telling up until this point. We keep giving them obstacles, which forces them to look at the other person in a non-romantic lens. I think we’ve seen shifts in Gregory’s character as his jealousy arises, but at the end of the day, he has to still choose to work with Janine and support her as a partner first, before becoming a romantic partner. I also think part of his growth as a man is being able to step into and go for what he wants. You know what I mean? I think that was a big part of his conversation with Jacob this year. Like go for it dude, yes, play it safe when you have to. But if you want something, now’s the time to go get it. So I think that it is furthering their growth as people. But this this season particularly, I think we were exploring — with Janine being outside of the school — how do they work in a platonic sense?

Got it. I need you to know that I do stan Janine and Gregory, but I also adore Josh Segarra.

Ugh, he’s so good.

I must admit that I was a little sad Manny, that wholesome man, didn’t even get one date.

I know.

Was there ever, to your knowledge, an alternate storyline where Janine and Manny got to give it a go? Or was the plan always for him to simply help them realize they still had feelings for each other?

There was a longer version of the season, back when there was still a chance we could do 22, where this was drawn out in a longer form. And I guess there could have been a possibility for it to happen there. We knew that we wanted Gregory’s jealousy to start bubbling up. [Laughs] But we didn’t know how you how many episodes you would have to tell that. But I give all credit to Josh, man. It’s very hard to come into a show with an established love interest and find a way to make your argument. You know? Where an audience has been built to really love these two characters and want them together — to come in, and in a very casual way, make your argument? I think he did that in a beautiful and brilliant way.

Josh Segarra in 'Abbott Elementary'
Photo: Disney/Gilles Mingasson

You know I agree. Were you, Tyler, ever rooting for them? This is a safe space, you can tell me.

You know what, there was a version of the season I think we talked about at one point where I think I was like, “No, they could actually like explore this.” And I thought that would be healthy for her. And I think there was also was a possibility for Gregory to have dated somebody else at one point. And I kind of liked that as an idea for them. I think sometimes it takes being with other people to realize, “Oh, I don’t want that. I want this one specific person.” And I don’t think he would have been ultimately bad for Janine in any way, shape, or form. But I think we really showed here that it’s not just any work husband, you know what I mean? He very much fulfilled that role at the district. [But we showed] that she has something that’s actually really unique with Gregory.

Totally. We have to go back to the line about the light at the door: “I fixed your light.” I loved it so much. The episode was so perfectly orchestrated, and that line is further proof that Gregory has some of the most simple, yet romantic lines on TV. Are you aware how hard you shook people in Season 2 with, “I take all of your recommendations seriously. I want to know why you like stuff?”

[Laughs] I have heard.

I chatted with [showrunners] Patrick Schumacker and Justin Halpern about that line last year and they said it was “delivered in the hands of a pro.” I felt that again this episode in the bedroom scene when you told Janine, “Just, like, your brain. You care about people. That’s what I admire about you.”

Yeah, I mean, all credit to the writers for the finale. It was written so beautifully. There’s a lot of mirrors and parallels in there that I don’t think a lot of people would pick up on initially. Like when Gregory comes out of the bathroom and scares Janine, it mirrors the pilot when Gregory comes out of the bathroom and scares Janine. There’s just so many things in there that were so beautifully woven in. Adding depth to the words is not difficult when you have words like these. But I think that my favorite line of the episode is the light line. Because Gregory gives love and a very functional way. [Laughs] Like he’s definitely an acts of service person. For sure. And I was able to throw so much subtext in there because it’s such a Gregory thing to do. It’s not just nice things to say. It’s things that Gregory, specifically, would say.

Photo: DISNEY/Gilles Mingasson

Definitely. Let’s be real, anyone else would have just knocked on that door. We love him for fixing the light, too. Looking ahead, assuming things between them blossom over the summer, do you think Janine and Gregory are in the clear, or will they encounter challenges back at school?

Oh, there’s definitely going to be challenges. Even without revealing stuff going into Season 4, we just look at the landscape. There’s all types of challenges here. The only person who really knows probably what happened is Jacob. We now have to kind of reveal it to the rest of the school, or maybe not, or maybe keep it a secret. That’s the hemming and hawing of, well, do we try to play this close to the vest? Do we try to just be professional at work and something else outside? What is that something else outside? So there’s a number of things. Now there’s more questions than there are answers. It doesn’t really answer anything. [Laughs] As I was doing my script breakdown, I was like, “Oh, great moment! This is not an answer! This is more questions!”

Whatever happens, fans have loved watching Gregory and Janine’s relationship over the years, in large part, because you and Quinta have such a natural, but electric chemistry. What’s your favorite thing about working so closely with her?

She thinks about everything, right? She has way too much on her mind at any given time. But the way she thought about that scene, and we talked about it for so long — and from a perspective, that wasn’t just like, “Oh, here’s what we’re gonna do creatively.” I could tell she was very concerned about landing this the right way — not only in how we shot it and how it was written, but how she performed it. One of the things I love most about working with Quinta is we have this same burning desire to do it right. What’s the right way to do this? What’s the answer? How do we check all ego at the door and come into this the right way? So this — the stakes were very high for her, I could tell, with this scene. And I think once again she executed it perfectly. But I think that’s required. I think the anxiety about making it right and caring that deeply about this and giving your audience the moment that they deserve is the frequency that we meet on.

I love that and it definitely paid off. Looking back at Season 3, Abbott really stepped up the guest star game. What was your biggest jaw-dropping talent moment this season?

Oh, it was Bradley Cooper. For sure. Like, what? [Laughs] Quinta was like “Hey” — she sent it to me in a message that was like invisible ink. [Laughs] And it was like, “We may get Bradley Cooper,” and I was like, “No fucking way. There’s no fucking way. Nah.” And then it happened and I was like, “Oh shit.” Nuts.

And now he could win an Emmy!

Right! This is just the sort of thing that happened on the show, where it’s crazy that we managed to pull this off. We were in a breakneck season coming in from a strike, but Bradley Cooper’s here! It’s nuts. I think it was definitely that one. I didn’t think we’d be able to pull that one off.

Photo: Disney/Gilles Mingasson

Do you have a dream guest star for the future? I’ve seen some big names like Solange and Niecy Nash floated as relatives of Gregory, but is there anyone else you’d like to throw in the ring?

I’ve always liked the idea of Solange coming in, because I love Gregory interacting with women that make him uncomfortable, or who he finds himself intimidated by. And I feel like there’s something there. There could be. Whether it’s a cousin, or something like that. Initially, I think I tried to pitch it to Quinta as a sister, but then we established that shortly after Gregory was born, his mom died. But yeah, I think it would be filling out Gregory’s family more. We don’t know a lot about them. So Solange would be great. There’s so many options. There’s also this Philly native thing — like getting Will Smith in here somewhere would be fun, because he is actually from Philly. That could be interesting, but I don’t know if Will Smith is Will Smith in our world. That’s one thing we’d have to address. It’s interesting. I saw one article about a thread being like, “Oh, The Bear is a show in our world, but Ayo is Quinta’s sister.”

[Laughs] Yeah. You’re Jeremy Allen Black and Ayo is Ayesha Teagues.

[Laughs] That’s it. So we’re gonna have to figure that out in some way. But I think the we have so many options going into the future. And it’s just fun to play and see who wants to come play with us.

Before we go, what can you tease for us about Season 4?

Um, I think the biggest tease I can give you is this isn’t an answer. This actually brings up more questions. I think people initially are going to see it as an answer. But when you really sit down and think about it, we have to explore all of these questions. And this isn’t a definitive. The show doesn’t stop here. If anything, it feels like it just got started.

Alright, well we’re bringing Manny back if anything —

[Laughs] If anything. If anything goes wrong, he is in the neighborhood. We know.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Abbott Elementary Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu.


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