Abbott Elementary’s Chris Perfetti Explains Why He Was So Surprised By Jacob’s Break-Up

Jacob sitting at his desk and Gregory resting his hand on his shoulder in Season 3 of Abbott Elementary.
(Image credit: Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

Big spoilers for Abbott Elementary Season 3, Episode 5 – “Breakup” – are ahead. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can stream new episodes of the sitcom the day after they air on ABC with a Hulu subscription

While I constantly have questions about Janine and Gregory's relationship – especially after Quinta Brunson’s cryptic comment about her character and Manny – I have never had doubts about Jacob and his boyfriend Zach. So, when Chris Perfetti’s history teacher and his boyfriend broke up in Episode 5 of Season 3 I was shocked, to put it lightly. You know what, so was Perfetti, and he told CinemaBlend why.

In the episode “Breakup,” Jacob decided his relationship with Zach has met its end, and rather than breaking up with him, he did tiny things to annoy his partner into initiating the separation, despite Gregory advising him that it was a bad idea. While a hilarious storyline, it was also quite sad, and Perfetti told CinemaBlend that learning about his character’s relationship ending was a “roller coaster of emotions:”

"Shock is pretty accurate. I would say that it was a real roller coaster of emotions when Quinta [Brunson] was first telling me about this storyline."

Going into more detail as to why “shock” was a good way to describe his reaction to Jacob’s story, Chris Perfetti told me that his love for the actor behind Zach, Larry Owens, played into it. He also said he’s very connected to his character after playing him for three seasons, and that also was part of the reason why he was surprised by this episode. He explained:

"I don't know if that's just because I love Larry Owens so much, and I was afraid that that would mean less of him, or if it's just because, at this point, the line between Chris and Jacob is sort of getting blurred. You know, playing a character for three years is a luxury that I have never been afforded before and didn't even know I wanted until I haven't now."

Considering Abbott has brought Janine’s ex-boyfriend Tariq back on many occasions, I do not doubt that Zach can return. Maybe he could be a performer at the school or teach the kids a thing or two about sneakers. 

While I’m bummed we will see less of Owens, I’m excited to see how Jacob’s story evolves. Perfetti feels the same way, and he explained why the history teacher’s story both “terrified and thrilled” him:

"I was simultaneously sort of terrified and thrilled. You know, I think again and again, Quinta is subverting people's expectations and sort of taking what you know about these characters and trying to sort of flip it on its head, and put them in situations that are incredibly uncomfortable, because there's a lot of comedy to be mined out of that. And so, I was, and am, very intrigued by the thought of what a single Jacob means. And and how he even gets there, what that would mean. So I think it's a really good idea." 

As we all continue to watch Season 3 of Abbott Elementary, and Chris Perfetti continues to play the beloved Jacob, I can’t wait to see how his life changes due to this pivotal storyline. Single Jacob will probably be lots of chaotic fun, and considering how Gregory assisted him through his separation and is single himself, I’m sure the two bros will have a hilarious time trying to figure out their respective love lives. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.