‘Abbott Elementary’: Josh Segarra Unpacks the ’11-Episode Joke’ He Planned With Quinta Brunson

“The Other Two” star also tells TheWrap why he thinks there’s “an affinity” between Manny and Janine

Josh Segarra and Quinta Brunson in "Abbott Elementary" (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

Note: The following story contains spoilers for “Abbott Elementary” Season 3 Episode 11.

In Wednesday’s newest episode of “Abbott Elementary,” recurring guest star Josh Segarra is targeted for having a “date beard” — a joke that the actor and creator Quinta Brunson had been gearing up for all season.

The episode, titled “Double Date,” followed Jacob (Chris Perfetti) and Gregory (Tyler James Williams) as they went a double date, where they happened upon Janine (Brunson) and school district employee Manny (Segarra), who appeared to be cozying up on a date. The sighting immediately brought out the green-eyed monster in Gregory, prompting him to call Manny out for having a “date beard.”

“That was all planned out [with Quinta],” Segarra told TheWrap, noting the presence of his beard — or lack thereof at the start of the season — became an ongoing joke on set. “We knew early on that if I grew my beard out, Gregory was going to say something about it.”

With the masterplan in mind, Segarra noted that Manny started the season without a beard, with it growing in just in time for Gregory’s nerves to be at their highest. “That was an 11-episode joke coming to be, and I think we nailed it,” Segarra said.

Segarra noted seeing Gregory “shaking in his boots” — as well as acting opposite Zack Fox’s Tariq — made for a fun day on set, especially with his character partially serving as the catalyst for Gregory’s escalating nerves.

“I feel like it could be Gregory seeing anybody all of a sudden getting cool with this girl that he’s been crushing on for such a long time,” Segarra said, noting he, himself, is on Team Gregory. “I don’t know if that has anything to do with Manny, I think it has to do with the fact that Gregory and Janine are meant to be together, so he’s nervous.”

While Gregory and Jacob had speculated Manny and Janine were on a date, the pair set them straight by assuring them they were just closing out district business after Janine returned to Abbott full time. Despite their assurances, Segarra noted it would be “impossible” not to have an affinity towards Janine.

“It would be a stupid choice not to let Manny fall for Janine along the way,” Segarra said. “We’ll have to let certain things play out towards the end of the season, because I think there’s an affinity for there for sure. But sometimes you can’t act on those feelings — sometimes you gotta be a professional.”

Though some sparks have been flying between Janine and Manny throughout Janine’s time working at the district, Segarra’s initial conversation with Brunson prior to joining the show focused on their characters’ friendship, rather than a romantic entanglement.

“She had mentioned to me, ‘you’re going to be from the district and we’re just going to add some new energy to some relationships that have already been established,’” Segarra recalled. “I quickly realized, once I got there, ‘Oh, this will be fun to just see what Manny’s energy towards Gregory could be what it could be towards Janine.’”

Although Janine opted to return to Abbott Elementary rather than stay at the district, Segarra is hopeful his character will return for future storylines.

“Manny — he ain’t going anywhere — He’s still at the district. Anytime they need something from the district I hope that she calls,” Segarra said, noting how much he cherished acting alongside the regular “Abbott” cast. “I’m super thankful to everybody over there — they really let me be a part of the family.”

“Abbott Elementary” premieres Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu.

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