A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bad Teacher is a comedy based on the movie starring Cameron Diaz about a woman who poses as a teacher so she can land herself a rich single dad. The show's main character is proudly shallow and a would-be leech who wishes only to marry a wealthy man. In addition to the contempt with which characters both young and adult treat each other, viewers will hear cursing, and jokes about sex, body parts, and menstruation. Middle schoolers call each other names like "nerd" and "lesbian," while an adult character retaliates by calling young girls "water bra" and "pantylines." Alcohol use is implied, as is sex, with scenes of characters half-naked in bed.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In short order, Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor) lost her husband, and, thanks to a pre-nuptial agreement she unthinkingly signed, her house, her car, and her cushy life. But a chance encounter with a middle-schooler convinces Meredith to fake a resume, flirt with the recently divorced principal Carl Gaines (David Alan Grier), and become the title's BAD TEACHER in hopes that one of her students will have a rich divorced daddy who can put Meredith back in the high life. Alas, it turns out that some of the school's students need her help more than she ever knew they would. With the backup assistance of eager fellow teacher Irene (Sara Gilbert) and cocky, flirtatious coach Joel (Ryan Hansen), Meredith takes on the school's bullies, Queen Bee teacher Ginny (Kristin Davis), and the world.
Is it any good?
The casting for Bad Teacher is brilliant. Graynor is enormously appealing as the lead, balancing an insouciant affect with a slinky, thrown-off, ironic villainy. And other than Graynor, there are half-a-dozen other much-beloved celebrity faces here, from MVP Sara Gilbert, who will always be Roseanne's Darlene Connor to us, to the dear-to-viewers Kristin Davis and Ryan Hansen. The dialogue is pretty wicked and witty, too: When Meredith meets her friend's middle school daughter for the first time she tells her "Your mom told me to pick you up." "That's what child molesters say!" snaps the tween. "Don't flatter yourself," pooh-poohs Meredith. Funny!
However, it'd be nice if some of the situations surrounding Meredith weren't so sitcom cliche-y. Having Meredith create a fake Career Day at school so she can suss the local Dad talent is hilarious. But resorting to pitting her against one-note mean-girl characters, and Davis as a pinch-faced fellow teacher, seems rather sexist and tired. It's nice to have a main character who's half heroine and half jerk. Could the show's "bad" characters be afforded the same depth?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the setting of Bad Teacher. Schools are a classic comic setting. Can you name some movies or shows that take place at school? Why is this setting so ripe for comic antics?
Is the audience meant to like Meredith? Is she supposed to be a good or bad character? How can you tell?
Bad Teacher the show was adapted from a 2011 film, which had a different cast. Why do TV shows based on movies usually have different actors playing the roles?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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