If you want a few solid examples of beautifully written friendships, look no further than Abbott Elementary.

Abbott Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 took us inside the friendships of several staff members as they navigated off-campus issues.

We got to see more character development from our favorite misfits, too.

In earlier seasons, we’ve been given the impression that some of the Abbott teachers tolerated each other only when they had to.

But lately, we’ve seen evidence that quite a few of these relationships go deeper than the average coworking acquaintances.

“Breakup” started off strong with the best cold open of the season.

A new substitute teacher enters the building and runs screaming out the doors within seconds of arriving, leaving even our most pessimistic veteran teachers shocked.

Barbara, Melissa, and Gregory had been taking bets on how long the new teacher would last, but none of them predicted that he wouldn’t even last to the first bell.

This cold open had us in stitches. The intro included some of our main characters interacting in a casual and friendly way, which set the scene for the coming plot.

The most intriguing part was the continuation of Ava‘s character development. Throughout this season, we’ve seen a lot of growth in the often immature principal.

Lately, she’s been showing up for her students and colleagues in new ways, showing a depth to her character that we haven’t necessarily seen in past seasons.

The writers’ commitment to Ava as a well-rounded character who gets to keep her wit and personality while also growing into a kind and thoughtful friend is commendable. They also give her some of the best jokes of the show.

Remember, practicing is more important than your homework. And if any of your teachers disagree, I can and will fire them.


In this episode, Ava has rented the school’s gymnasium to Barbara’s church choir to use as a practice space.

She happens to overhear Barbara being passed over for a coveted solo, and the episode follows her as she defends Barbara and encourages her to stand up for herself.

In a past life, Ava wouldn’t have been caught dead getting this involved in a coworker’s personal life.

But she’s invested in Barbara’s happiness here, and it’s a testament to the work the writers have put in that we’re not surprised by her kindness.

Meanwhile, Jacob is confiding in Gregory that he’s having relationship issues. He and his boyfriend, Zach, have been fighting for quite a while, and Jacob wants to end things.

Gregory’s advice for how to break up with Zach doesn’t impress Jacob, and he decides to take a more complicated route. He hopes that purposely driving Zach crazy by doing things he hates will subliminally convince Zach to initiate the breakup.

We’re getting to see evolution in Gregory’s and Jacob’s relationship here, too.

Jacob has always been intimidated by Gregory, who usually doesn’t really know how to take Jacob’s energy.

The bonding between these two in the latest episode is really special, especially because there’s a moment where Jacob accidentally offends Gregory, but that doesn’t stop the latter from showing up when he’s needed.

We haven’t been happy for a long time, okay? I felt it, I think you felt it.


After an awkward encounter at school ultimately results in Zach and Jacob ending their relationship, Gregory finds himself coming back to comfort Jacob even though their last conversation was slightly heated.

Janine, who is still working at the district, gets a call from Melissa early on in the episode. Melissa has some concerns about the new substitute covering Janine’s class, whose methods for engaging their students aren’t exactly normal.

Melissa asks Janine to do some digging on Cassidy Jeffries, the new sub, to find out if they’re actually qualified for the job. Janine can’t find any record of Cassidy.

Over the course of the school day, Cassidy leads their class in a bout of primal screaming and tends to jumble their words when Melissa talks to them.

Melissa eventually denied it when Janine asked, but it definitely seemed like Melissa was missing her former coworker and looking for an excuse to work with Janine for the day.

Upon seeing “Mx. Cassidy Geoffries” written on the board in the classroom, Janine and Melissa realize that they couldn’t find records because they misspelled the sub’s name.

Time will tell if the complaint Mx. Geoffries’ said they planned to file will result in any disciplinary action against Melissa or Janine.

Over in Ava’s office, Barbara opens up and tells the principal why the other choir members don’t like her. In addition to being “too modern” and “not Christian enough,” there’s a subtle but serious implication in her words.

Ava: Why don’t those church ladies like you, Barb?
Barbara: I’m too modern for them. I’m not Christian enough for them.
Ava: All because you got a few piercings? If anybody can appreciate a few extra holes in their bodies, it’s Jesus.

Barbara says the other choir members take issue with the fact that she is close with “the more colorful” teachers at Abbott Elementary. We can only assume that this is a reference to Jacob.

This means the choir members have a problem with the fact that he’s gay and the fact that Barbara is friends with him.

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see that bit of homophobia sprinkled in, but it’s good writing — it’s another example of how Barbara isn’t as rigid and severe as her character was set up to be early on.

The episode ends with an incredibly meaningful moment of friendship: Ava has organized a recital for Barbara, where she’ll get to perform the solo that she was denied in the choir group.

It’s a selfless gesture from Ava, something we’re seeing more and more of, and it reflects how much she cares for Barbara.

Somehow, she managed to get students and teachers into the gym for the recital without Barbara getting wind of it.

She performs passionately and beautifully, and something tells us she won’t forget her moment in the spotlight anytime soon.

There’s a recurring theme of vulnerability throughout the episode: Jacob in his relationship, Melissa in reaching out to Janine, Barbara in her choir rejection.

Even Mr. Johnson shows his sensitive side when he expresses jealousy that he’s not included in plans with Jacob and Gregory anymore.

Hopefully, we’ll continue to see more of this from our characters in Abbott Elementary Season 3.

It’s a nice view of the group, most of whom have had their guards up since the show premiered.

We didn’t see much of the district team in this episode, and we’re hoping they’ll be back next week. Manny and his crew are such fun additions to the show that we’re looking forward to seeing more of them.

Why don’t you drop below and let us know what you think of the latest episode?

Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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