Culture > Television

Characters on Teachers

Television | The noble calling of teachers is turned into a travesty though NBC's new sitcom

Issue: "Illegal passage," April 15, 2006

The characters on Teachers (Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m., NBC) are pretty much like other young, single, good-looking sitcom characters who work at coffee shops, fashion magazines, and other cool jobs. They hit on each other, throw off wisecracks, and talk about sex.

These are teachers, though. And yet they are hardly ever in the classroom. Unlike, say, Welcome Back, Kotter, this school-based comedy mostly takes place in the teacher's lounge. The few students are portrayed as bored and misbehaving, which is apparently supposed to be funny.

Their teachers drink beer in the classroom, flirt in front of students in the cafeteria, and make fun of the principal. The substitute teacher wears low-cut tops and tries to seduce the English teacher, who is the central character.

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The teachers in what is described as "one of New Jersey's most average to below average high schools" make fun of their profession. They describe themselves as "work-dodgers and apathetics." In a campaign for faculty chair, one teacher says, "We've got to get one of our own people in there, someone who's lazy and unmotivated. Someone who doesn't want to change anything." They boast about how they cannot be fired.

The show throws in all of the teacher stereotypes. We have the cool teacher in blue jeans, the nerdy math teacher, the idealist, and the burnt out cynic.

Teachers is rated TV-14 for sex talk that teachers of yore would never allow, much less say themselves. Teachers have a noble calling, which this show turns into a travesty. And yet, sadly, the travesty reflects the way our culture looks at teachers and the failures of our public education system.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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