Abbott Elementary’s Chris Perfetti on His Character’s Sexuality

Abbott Elementary is subverting expectations. 

When the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom, which premiered its second season Sept. 21, first brought in Jacob’s (Chris Perfetti) boyfriend Zach (Larry Owens) in season one, Zach seamlessly integrated himself into a plotline about “desking,” the new trend at school. And for Perfetti, it was the perfect way to introduce his character’s sexuality.

“The real story there is that we didn’t make a big story out of it,” Perfetti explained. “I think it’s a generational thing.”

According to Perfetti, creator Quinta Brunson just wanted to make Jacob’s sexuality a component of his character—not his entire personality. Even 10 years ago, he said, the plotline would have been written differently, with costar Janelle James quipping that they would have made it a “special episode.”

“We don’t need that,” he said. “It’s just real life.”

Brunson herself has repeated those sentiments, revealing that originally, the show had another queer character, but the network told her that they needed to trim down the cast. But the creator “didn’t want to not have a queer character” on her show, so they made Jacob the series’ sole gay lead, introducing his sexuality casually.

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