'Those Who Can't' Review: Making Teachers Look Bad

Ken Tucker
·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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You know what would be a really original TV premise, at this point in our history? One in which teachers are smart but beleaguered people who have students that want to learn, but the educators and the kids must constantly grapple with aggressive, pushy parents and bureaucratic rules that prevent anyone from giving or getting a decent education. That is not the premise of Those Who Can’t, premiering Thursday night on TruTV.

Instead, it’s another adults-acting-like-adolescents sitcom in the tradition of Workaholics, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or any number of other shows. It stars a group of performers who are skilled at improv comedy — in this case, members of the Denver-based comedy troupe The Grawlix. They play a group of high school teachers and faculty that are cynical, lazy people who want more than anything else to have the kind of carefree lives they see their students living.

The result is a half-hour — I made it through two episodes — that feature such would-be hilarious scenes as a gym teacher getting hit in the face with a volleyball repeatedly; a librarian who spends her days erasing drawings of penises in the school’s books; and so many jokes involving the word “nuts” in a nut-allergy subplot, you’d think you’d stumbled into the writers’ room of a new show called The Testicle Hour.

The school doctor is the kind of guy who tells a teacher with an injury, “I’m gonna write you a prescription for Oxy—one for you, and one for me.” After a random drug test, another teacher tells a female student she’s pregnant in front of the rest of the class.

The performers in Those Who Can’t are probably nice people–they’re clearly smart, even if their show’s concept is woefully derivative. They will probably go on to do something better. Or, Those Who Can’t will catch on, become a huge hit or gather a rabid cult following, and make their careers. Either way, I wish them luck.

Those Who Can’t airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on TruTV.