Abbott Elementary ’s Chris Perfetti on the Importance of Introducing 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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"There are so many queer people in my life, and they never had to come out to me," she told The Hollywood Reporter Aug. 8. "I wanted the audience to feel that way."

And although Perfetti wouldn't divulge whether or not Zach would return for season two, he "hopes" he will. Maybe this means we'll get another sweet field trip for the two of them, too!

Chris Perfetti, Larry Owens, Abbott Elementary
Temma Hankin/ABC via Getty Images

Watch Jacob and Zach's relationship unfold when Abbott Elementary drops new episodes Wednesdays on ABC.

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