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‘Abbott Elementary’ Introduced Jacob’s Boyfriend, Zach, and I Need More of This Sweet, Cuddly Man

"It's actually pronounced Zach. You must be Ava."

Abbott Elementary

Spoilers for Abbott Elementary season one episode eleven: “Desking”

In the latest episode of Abbott Elementary, the teachers find themselves dealing with a new viral sensation where students hop across the desks in their classrooms. After discovering shoe prints on their desks, they try and figure out who the shoe prints belong to. This requires the skills of a shoe expert, which leads to Jacob calling his boyfriend, Zach—who he’d mentioned back in episode 8.

The way the series has handled Jacob being gay has been wonderful to watch. Casually mentioned during a conversation with Janine, the issue wasn’t the fact that Jacob was gay, it was the fact that he hadn’t introduced Janine to his boyfriend yet. We learn the reason isn’t that he’s closeted, it’s because he doesn’t want to have to be honest about his feelings regarding HER relationship with her boyfriend, Tariq, as introducing partners to your friends is a big deal.

The series could’ve easily left it at that in regard to Jacob being gay, but in this newest episode, we get to meet Zach – who is an absolute delight. And in true Abbott Elementary fashion, the big mystery behind Zach isn’t that he’s a gay Black man, it’s that he’s dating someone as exhausting as Jacob.

At least, that’s the only mystery unless your name is Ava.

Yes, he’s Black, Ava, LOL!

Let’s be honest. If anyone was gonna voice out the fact that Zach is Black, it would be Ava. That’s just who she is. As always, the other teachers give her a good death stare, with Barbara directly addressing her tactless behavior.

I adore this exchange for two reasons. For one, I get the feeling that the “BLACK” reaction is one that Zach has probably gotten before. As a Black, bisexual woman in an interracial relationship, I truly felt that immediate, “It’s pronounced Zach,” line he delivered. The second reason I love this exchange is how Zach instantly KNEW this was Ava, which tells me that Jacob has most DEFINITELY come home from work with frustrating stories about her.

As someone who has dealt with the silent judgment version of Ava’s outburst where folks pretend like they aren’t shocked (but they clearly are), I appreciate the show only taking 30 seconds to address it before getting to the real point of the episode.

No one’s surprised about the queer relationship, they’re surprised because Jacob is … Jacob

It’s no secret that Jacob can be a lot to handle. He means well, much like Janine, but he has a tendency to ramble, try WAY too hard, and be completely incapable of reading the room. The other teachers have been trying to figure out where his off-switch is for a while, and to their surprise, all it takes is a calm word from Zach to get him to stop. Zach kindly reminds him when he’s going off-topic and gets him to focus on the task at hand. The other teachers are stunned at seeing Jacob actually take a break for air, comment on how much they like Zach and are left wondering how these two even ended up together.

I greatly appreciate this being a series that doesn’t feel the need to have a very special episode about there being a gay teacher. Jacob is just … gay. The big mystery isn’t an explanation about people being gay, it’s how the group’s most exhausting teacher managed to get a boyfriend. The answer? Zach is a lot like Jacob! When Zach is excited about something, he also has the tendency to talk a lot, leading to Jacob quietly reminding him to stay focused on the actual conversation. What’s nice about this is that neither of them is pushed to change their ways, they just gently remind each other to stay on track.

The fun little details

One of my favorite comments in the episode is a clear callback to episode eight. Back then, Jacob had been hesitant about introducing Zach to Janine, but now? Zach and Janine have spent time together. We find out that the two have, at the very least, gone out to lunch—whether Tariq was there or not has yet to be revealed.

Of course, the most wholesome detail is Zach being just as extra as Jacob in his own way. He takes the shoe investigation VERY seriously, face-timing Jacob to reveal big news to him, and delighting in the fact that Jacob is FINALLY gonna wear sneakers.

The two are really sweet together, and I hope that this isn’t the last we see of Zach. I’m so glad to see a fat, Black, gay love interest who gets to be funny, endearing, appreciated by his partner and his partner’s peers, and who has great taste in sneakers.

(Image: ABC)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)