It has been criticized as being NBC’s “miserable failure” by many entertainment writers but having grown up in a family with aunts, uncles, cousins and both my mother and father working for various school districts throughout the country, I couldn’t bear to dismiss this comedic take on teachers. The show, which airs Tuesday nights, takes place in an underachieving New Jersey High School and is a successful take on how teachers learn to deal with apathetic students and how a principal learns to deal with a diverse staff. From a sarcastic educator to a crazed principal, “Teachers” has an amusing ensemble of actors and actresses and is a comedy that plays on viewers’ desires for laughter and off-the-wall antics that modern high-school students might find commonplace.
When we first meet “Teachers” leading man, English teacher Jeff Cahill (Justin Bartha), he is playing golf during geometry class with his co-worker Deon Richmond, the drama teacher. It’s a situation that perhaps no principal ever wants to have to confront. It takes everything he’s got for Cahill to make it through the day at Filmore High School. Besides being surrounded by text-messaging students with short attention spans, he faces an administration that fails to see his true love for teaching. Underneath his beer-drinking exterior, Cahill is interested in making sure his students receive the best education possible and manages to learn a few tricks of the trade from fellow teacher Alice Fletcher (Sarah Alexander) who sticks “straight to the books.”
The show is loosely based on an hour-long British series, but NBC made some minor changes to it before premiering it in the United States. It mixes studio audience feedback with a “conventional four-camera look” that could be its biggest drawback. However, the show certainly does not fail to incorporate the hot substitute teacher played by Sarah Shahi or the brown-nosing teacher (Matt Winston) who worships Principal Emma Wiggins (Kali Rocha). “Teachers” directors have managed to write a successful storyline but perhaps it’s one that only teachers and their families can truly relate to. Unless NBC can attract some loyal Tuesday night viewers, these teachers may be writing new lesson plans quicker than expected.