Every now and then, a “will they, won’t they” storyline comes around that gets fans riled up in all the right ways.
It’s one of TV’s favorite tropes. Jim and Pam from The Office, Ross and Rachel from Friends, Nick and Jess from New Girl. We’re suckers for it, even if we almost always know how it’s going to end.
But sometimes, we’re asking the wrong questions. Maybe “Will they” or “won’t they” is less important, and what we should really be asking is “Should they?”
Janine and Gregory from Abbott Elementary are two of the show’s most loved characters, and fans adore their flirtatious friendship.
Their chemistry is undeniable. We’ve even seen a hint of action here and there, and during Abbot Elementary Season 2, the colleagues finally admitted to having feelings for one another.
Way back on Abbott Elementary Season 1 Episode 1, when we first met Janine Teague, she was in a less-than-ideal relationship with her boyfriend of ten years, Tariq Temple.
Tariq is a rapper whose dream is to get his music off the ground, and Janine is nothing but supportive.
We sense tension pretty much right away when it becomes clear that Janine is doing all of the emotional labor in the relationship.
Tariq isn’t a bad guy, but he’s not very mature, and Janine has started to realize that she may have outgrown him.
Janine and Tariq break up in the Abbott Elementary Season 1 finale when he moves to New York to pursue his music career, and Janine decides not to go with him.
Of course, Tariq isn’t Janine’s only love interest. Season 2 brought us Maurice, who is (yikes) Gregory’s best friend. On Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 10, the guys meet Janine and her friend at a hookah lounge.
Gregory asks Maurice not to make moves on any of his coworkers, but that doesn’t stop Janine from connecting with Maurice outside the bar. The two hit it off, and a brief relationship ensues.
If you ask us, Maurice and Janine never really had much chemistry.
It’s clear that the two of them are meant to be a bit of a detour on the way to an eventual Janine/Gregory moment. The big kiss on Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 16 only confirms that it’s coming.
Once Janine breaks up with Maurice (in front of Gregory, no less), we all hold our collective breath, waiting for the inevitable hookup in the Season 2 finale.
But it doesn’t come.
And if we’re being totally honest, we couldn’t be happier.
That’s not to say we don’t love Janine and Gregory individually. How could we not? Gregory is brilliant and kind and everything Janine deserves in a partner.
Janine is steady, optimistic, and the kind of person anyone would be lucky to love. Of course, she deserves a partnership where she’s treated like the goddess she is.
But in order to figure out where she’s going, Janine has to look back at where she came from.
At the end of the day, Janine is still pretty recently out of a decade-long relationship with a man-child (a well-intentioned one, but a man-child nonetheless).
She has very little idea what it’s like to be on her own or who she even is as an adult without Tariq. Not long after she ended things with Tariq, she and Maurice started dating.
Janine is a serial monogamist — and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it would be a nice change of pace if we could see our “strong female lead” stand on her own two feet for a while.
She says at the end of Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 22 that she’s not ready for Gregory because she knows that if she lets it happen, she and Gregory will become serious very quickly.
I think I did the right thing. I want to continue the path I’m on. I actually think selfish is good for me, for now. Gregory is great. He’s the greatest, actually. I guess I’m not ready for him, but that’s okay. I’m okay.
After all, he’s not exactly a one-night-stand kind of guy, at least not where Janine is concerned.
But truthfully, Janine deserves time to learn about who she is without a man bringing his own baggage into her life. She has loads to discover because so much of her life so far has been wrapped into a relationship.
There are other things at play, of course, like issues with work and family, that she’s going to need to focus on in Season 3. And look, we’re not naive.
We know fans want an explosive, romantic reunion between Janine and Gregory.
Ultimately, we’re not opposed to the two of them living happily ever after…someday. But for now, Janine deserves to get to know herself first. A woman who gets to shine on her own on television is a rare thing.
We want to see the audience root for Janine for all the attributes that make her unique. No man, not even one as great as Gregory, should influence how the viewer sees Janine.
Obviously, Gregory and Janine both deserve to be happy, and if being together is what will make that happen, then so be it.
But there’s no reason that a relationship has to be the thing that fulfills these two incredible characters.
We want to see them both find happiness on their own before they’re brought together for good.
Is that too much to ask?
Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.