'Teachers': A Funny New Sitcom About Truth In Education

·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment

Because Teachers has been tucked away at 11 p.m. on TV Land on Wednesday night, I wanted to be sure to call your attention to it. A funny sitcom with the good-posture backbone of truth, Teachers is about an over-worked, under-paid, unappreciated group of young, female educators at Fillmore Elementary School.

The premiere follows the teachers grappling with the school’s new anti-bullying initiative, a nightmare of mandatory meetings, and the inculcation of politically-correct jargon instituted less to protect students than to cover the school from any potential lawsuits. The program takes a dark turn when one of the teachers decides a good name for it would be “Stop Teasing and Bullying,” only to find the students chanting its unfortunate acronym: “STAB! STAB! STAB!”

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To say the teachers in Teachers are flawed is an understatement. Miss Snap (Katy Colloton) is so vain, she rejects a little child’s crayoned picture of her as too unflattering, sending the kid away with a dismissive, “Let’s consider this a first draft.” Another teacher (Kate Lambert) is asked by a student what a mimosa is. “It’s something women in their 20s order so that they can feel better about drinking in the morning,” is the tart reply.

Beneath the many rapid jokes is an underlying theme: Teachers ought to be granted more respect by the adult world, paid better, and allowed more freedom to break away from government-issued lesson plans to create individualized instruction. Another theme: Teachers can be as randy, cynical, and exhausted as you and I.

Teachers, an outgrowth of a web series, was created by the Katydids, an improv group whose six women — Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien, and Kathryn Renee Thomas — form the central cast and principal writing staff. As performers, all are extremely funny in distinctive ways. One of the show’s executive producers is Community’s Alison Brie, who appears in the pilot as Lauren, the “Bully Goat,” a costumed figure trying to teach the kids further, all-too-obvious anti-bullying lessons.

Teachers follows Impastor, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Younger in TV Land’s efforts to attract an audience for more daring comedy than, say, Hot In Cleveland. In this and other senses, it’s very much a success.

Teachers airs Wednesdays at 11 p.m. on TV Land.