A.P. Bio

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
A.P. Bio TV Poster Image
Mature humor, iffy role models in school-set comedy.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Teachers don't care much about their students, and friends often don't act like friends in this acerbic drama in which our main character's main life goal is to destroy a rival (though we can glimpse softness underneath the crusty facade). The cast is very diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, body types, class. 

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack is a terrible role model: He drinks, carouses, openly admits he doesn't care about teaching biology, yet does care about the students in a vague and general way. Principal Durbin tries to be a good administrator and an understanding person, but he's ineffectual and wants Jack to think he's cool. Other characters are frequently mocking stereotypes: a trio of sex-mad teachers, a daffy school nurse, a Rachel-from-Glee-like overachieving student. 

Violence

Violence is usually played for comic effect: In the show's very first scene, Jack hits the school's sign with his car and then advances on a curious passerby with a crowbar. A bully throws a misfit's backpack in a lake; a teacher tells his class he'll "kick their ass" if any of them break the rules. 

Sex

Lots of jokes about sex: Jack tells his students that one prong of his immediate life plans is to "have sex with as many women in California as he possibly can"; he also refers to "banging" an ex "hard" (after which a trio of teachers mock him: "Not just regular hard? You're gonna bang her aggressively!"). A classroom full of high school students write "catfishing" messages to a man, including a message about licking him "up and down." A nurse substituting for a teacher vows to teach students about the "gorgeous velveteen labyrinth that is the female reproductive system -- this is my cervix!" she cries, holding up a diagram in front of her pelvis. A man showering is visible nude from the side with a towel obscuring his private parts. 

Language

Cursing is infrequent and mild: "hell," "dammit," "ass." Also vulgar language like "pee pee," "sucks," "bang" (in a sexual sense).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jack drinks beer and talks about getting drunk, urinating on a building, sassing a cop, and getting arrested after he shows up for work with his arm in a sling and a black eye. 

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A.P. Bio is a sitcom about a disgraced Ivy League teacher resentfully slumming it as a high school biology teacher. The main character is a nihilist who openly admits that his two life goals are destroying his nemesis and having sex with as many people as possible; he tells his students to "shut your mouth" and not to expect to be taught anything. He also instructs them to write sexual "catfishing" messages to his rival, and explains that he always wears condoms even though you can't "feel as much" with them on. He gets drunk and gets arrested for urinating on a building and resisting arrest, and so on. Teachers including but not limited to Jack don't care much about their jobs. Vulgar language and cursing incudes "hell," "dammit," "ass," and "sucks." A bully pushes an emo-ish kid down and throws his backpack in a lake. Women and people of color have strong, major roles. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySheila S. March 15, 2018

This show sucks

I agree w/the online review that it goes over like a fart in church, but less entertaining. I like offbeat/counterculture/dark comedy, but this is less cerebral... Continue reading
Adult Written byBomba89 November 1, 2018

This show is hilarious and Glenn is a genius

Everyone should watch this at all times on repeat for the rest of their lives.
Teen, 13 years old Written byKittenLover1000 February 18, 2018
Teen, 16 years old Written byZhee June 7, 2018

Very Unrealistic

This is one of the most Unrealistic high schools in media. It does have some messages which are essential for high school life, but they are presented very unre... Continue reading

What's the story?

At this time last year, Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) was a respected Harvard philosophy professor with a future and self-confidence and a mom who lived in Ohio. But now? Griffin's been pushed out of his department, he's living in his dead mom's frumpy apartment, and he's teaching high school A.P. BIO in Toledo -- and doing a really crap job of it, to the eternal distress of well-meaning Principal Durbin (Patton Oswalt) and the honor students who hoped to actually, you know, learn some biology. Jack's on a collision course with disaster, and he doesn't care who he takes with him, as long as he destroys his snooty nemesis Miles (Tom Bennett) along the way. 

Is it any good?

Rebel-teacher stories have been told so often on TV that it's really hard to escape all the clichés, so this show has to get credit for at least trying (and sometimes succeeding). "This won't be one of those things where I teach you, or I end up learning more from you than you learn from me," he crisply warns his students in the show's first episode, promising those who don't tell on him for not teaching an A+ in the class. But that's before a sassy-Greek-chorus-y trio of fellow teachers enlighten Jack in the teacher's lounge that he can pretty much assign his students any task he wants. Soon, he's using them for his own purposes: to torture Miles, to get him out of work, to get him assigned to "teacher jail" (an in-school suspension with pay). 

Bottom line is this: Though A.P. Bio seems like a promising candidate to be a successor of beloved NBC primetime comedies like The Office, Parks and Recreation, Community, and 30 Rock, and a sharp crack occasionally brings it up to those levels, it's not as good as those shows. The storylines are too predictable, the characters too generic; it lacks the surprise zing of really great comedies. Howerton does his best, and is pretty good even delivering absolutely ridiculous lines; Patton Oswalt is as lovable as always. But unless you have a free spot in your schedule and a weakness for SNL-esque comedies, you may want to skip this class. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why comedies are so frequently set in workplaces: schools, hotels, backstage at TV shows. What types of plotlines does the school setting of A.P. Bio make possible? What are the dramatic or comedic possibilities? 

  • Why do so many shows begin with a character who is new to something: a school in this case, an office, a team? What dramatic, comedic, or practical reasons would a writer have for that setup? Think about some of the shows you have watched. How are characters introduced to you, the viewer, as they are to the new person? 

  • Are viewers supposed to like Jack? How can you tell? Is he a hero? An antihero? What's the difference? 

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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