ABC Sitcom Abbott Elementary Lets Its Gay Teacher Thrive
ABC Sitcom ‘Abbott Elementary’ Lets Its Gay Teacher Thrive
A refreshing portrayal in a time when LGBTQ+ educators can be fired for being out.
ABC's Abbott Elementary is the newest sitcom craze. We're just eight episodes in and it's already raking in millions of viewers each week, breaking rating records, and garnering comparisons to The Office and Parks and Rec.
Created by and starring social media star Quinta Bronson, the wholesome half-hour comedy follows teachers (and a tone-deaf principal) at an underfunded Philadelphia school. It's a wholesome series that features other sitcom veterans Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha) and Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) alongside Janelle James, Chris Perfetti, and Parent Trap's Lisa Ann Walter.
Perfetti plays Jacob, who spoke openly about his love life on last night's episode.
Though eagle-eyed viewers might've noted the hints he's been dropping about his sexuality, including his affinity for Sidney Poitier in last week's episode, Jacob sharing with Janine (Bronson) that he has a boyfriend feels like a moment. She's unhappy about it, but not for the homophobic reason you might assume.
"I know a great guy I could set you up with," she offers.
"Thanks but I don't know how my boyfriend would feel about that," Jacob replies.
She promptly spirals, previously believing they were close enough friends to know this fact about Jacob's love life. As well-intentioned as ever, Janine propositions Jacob and the rest of the faculty to not only be her friend but honest about her own love life, which leads her to reflect on her local rapper boyfriend.
The episode is as fun as ever and viewers are celebrating the win of Jacob not only confirming his sexuality but being comfortably out among the faculty.
\u201cWhy am I surprised (but not really) that Jacob is gay #AbbottElementary\u201d— ZayahTales (@ZayahTales) 1644977053
\u201cA network sitcom has no right to be this funny. #AbbottElementary\u201d— \ud83d\udc0d (@\ud83d\udc0d) 1644968699
To be honest, I was worried the show wouldn't bring up Jacob's sexuality explicitly, choosing instead to provide jokes and sly nods to knowing viewers. Allowing Jacob to talk about his boyfriend in school pushes him from a gay archetype into a three-dimensional character, which feels substantial when LGBTQ+ teachers are still a controversial topic. Out educators around the country have been fired from their schools for a variety of homophobic reasons as recently as last year and is still legal in some states.
While it is nice to see Jacob not worried about being out and we love Abbott Elementary for presenting his identity as normal, it might feel a bit utopian to some viewers. But perhaps that's the point.
"I hope that we are giving people a place to laugh and to see themselves," Perfetti told TV Insider about his character. "That’s why I’m doing it. I hope that we’re giving people a cast of characters that they haven’t seen before, and I just hope that we’re making people feel good because that’s really important right now."
New episodes of Abbott Elementary premiere Tuesdays on ABC and Wednesdays on Hulu.