On Wednesday, the award-winning actress made her debut on the ABC sitcom as Janine Teagues' mom, Vanetta.
Spoiler alert! This article contains spoilers for Abbott Elementary's April 12 episode.
Taraji P. Henson has officially made her Abbott Elementary debut, and it was an emotional ride! The award-winning actress was the highly anticipated guest star of the season's penultimate episode, aptly titled "Mom." Henson starred as Vanetta, Janine Teagues (Quinta Brunson)'s estranged mother who shows up unexpectedly right before the schoolteacher plans to vacation in Ocean City -- Maryland, not Jersey -- over the Memorial Day weekend.
On Wednesday's episode, Vanetta visits Janine during the school day, telling her that she "grew worried" when Janine didn't answer her call, so she came to check up on her. But Janine notes that the pair haven't "spoken in like six months," and their estrangement becomes more obvious as she takes her mother around to meet her co-workers.
Although Vanetta is quick to let Ava (Janelle James) know that she will kick the a** of anyone making fun of her baby girl, she doesn't let that stop her from trying to manipulate her into paying for a late phone bill with guilt. Barbara's (Sheryl Lee Ralph) protectiveness over Janine pushes her to intervene on her behalf and, wanting to keep Janine from giving her mother the vacation money she earned, Barbara offers to give Vanetta the money for her phone bill instead.
But Janine overhears and, realizing her mother has been attempting to manipulate her into giving her the money, she offers a compromise: Janine will convince the phone company to offer Vanetta a payment plan that Janine will cover for the first two months, but after that, her mother is on her own. Vanetta agrees to the deal and seems to realize that her daughter has learned an independence that encourages her to stand up for herself; Vanetta finally tells Janine she loves her too.
Later, Janine thanks Barbara for trying to help, telling her that the move revealed how much her "work mom" cares. The older teacher invites Janine to go shopping for her trip and the episode ends as the duo leaves the school together.
Henson is the latest of the Teague family to make an appearance -- The Bear's Ayo Edebiri previously appeared on the ABC sitcom as Janine's sister, Ayesha. Janine's previous insights into her family and her sister's visit alluded to tension between the sisters and their mother, which was further explored with Henson's cameo.
Fans online had much to say about the reveals into Janine's home life and the deepening connection between the young teacher and Barbara...
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