2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

TV Review: CBS’s “Bad Teacher”

Published: April 21, 2014, 1:15 pm, by Terry Terrones

BAD TEACHER

“Bad Teacher

Cast: Ari Graynor (“The Guilt Trip”), Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”), David Alan Grier (“In Living Color”), Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne”) and Ryan Hansen (“Veronica Mars,” “Party Down”)

Air-date, time: The pilot episode airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday April 24 on ABC

The premise: “Bad Teacher” is a comedy based on the feature film of the same name about an inappropriate former trophy wife who masquerades as a teacher in order to find a new man after her wealthy husband leaves her penniless. Dumped, divorced and broke due to a bad pre-nup, Meredith Davis (Graynor) is inspired by her friend’s smart, awkward stepdaughter, Lily (Sara Rodier), to devise the perfect three-step plan: 1) Pose as a teacher at Lily’s middle school; 2) Meet and marry a rich single dad; 3) Return to a lavish lifestyle. Using a phony resume Meredith effortlessly charms Principal Carl Gaines (Grier), who is easily duped and oblivious to her agenda. The faculty includes Joel (Hansen), her handsome former high school classmate-turned-gym teacher, who sees right through her but is amused by her antics; Irene (Gilbert), a shy, introverted teacher who’s overly excited at the possibility of making a best friend; and Ginny (Davis), the up-tight faculty president and busybody who resents Meredith and suspects something’s fishy.

Highs: The cast is solid, with plenty of awkward characters portrayed by actors with excellent comedic timing. Sara Gilbert’s nerdy teacher is constantly seeking approval and is fun to watch as she struggles with her lack of social skills. Kristen Davis plays a by-the-book rule follower with ease, giving Graynor a nice foil. I’ve never been that big a fan of David Alan Grier but he’s certainly one of the highlights of the show. Grier’s Principal Gaines is divorced and his life is in shambles, he provides plenty of laughs when he overshares about his troublesome home life.

Ari Graynor is also well cast. I’d never seen any of her previous work but she balances her character, who is both completely inappropriate around kids yet also looks out for them and is an oddly positive influence, with humor and skill. In the two episodes I watched she was full of solid one-liners.

Lows: There’s a good chance this show will offend some viewers. Much of the offensive language, almost all of it said around child actors, could be viewed as being in poor taste. It didn’t bother me personally but there were some moments that made me cringe (most of the time in a good way) and I could understand if certain people found “Bad Teacher” offensive. On an unrelated note, the presentation of this show needs some attention. It’s unclear if producers were sure viewers would pick up on some of “Bad Teacher’s” humor because the episodes I watched had overly loud music to try and set the mood of every scene. It was unnecessary and distracting.

Grade: (B): I found “Bad Teacher” to be a pleasant surprise. I had seen the 2011 film starring Cameron Diaz (she’s a producer of this series) and didn’t find it particularly funny but this show hits the comedic marks that the movie misses. The TV version of “Bad Teacher” makes for a much solid blend of crude humor and heart.