'Teachers' Season 2: TV Review

Courtesy of TV Land
Watch it — don't make me give you detention.
1/17/2017

TV Land's comedy continues to make the grade as this hidden gem goes into its very funny second season.

A year ago, TV Land's new comedy series Teachers kicked off as a little surprise gem in the comedy landscape, and when the year finished — with an endless Peak TV pileup of scripted series — Teachers had impressively remained one of the bright lights of 2016.

Well, summer vacation is over and the kids at Fillmore Elementary are back for some more sub-par lessons in school (but also some really great ones on how to not behave in real life) as Teachers kicks off its second season Tuesday at 10 p.m., stronger and funnier than ever after gaining confidence from last season.

If you missed last season's introduction to this misfit band of teachers, you can watch the episodes on the TV Land website (recommended, duh), but it's also not necessary if you simply want to jump in now. It's not like this is a Common Core math problem. (You'll get that joke in a later episode.)

Teachers is the creation of the comedy troupe The Katydids: Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O'Brien and Kathryn Renee Thomas, a collection of performers whose names are not only all derived from Katherine but who write and star in each episode. The show is executive produced by Alison Brie (Community), Ian Roberts and Jay Martel (Key and Peele) and, yes, you're excused if you missed it last season under the pile of new offerings.

But when a show makes the grade for a second season and has no loss of either ambition or ingenuity, it's time to get on board.

Last season, viewers were introduced to the low-bar offerings of the Fillmore Elementary staff, where even though most of the teachers (okay, maybe half) had the students' best interests in mind, they were often derailed by their own personal issues or failings or merely exhausted trying to teach a bunch of brats. Maybe that's too harsh — let's just say that lesson planning and child-minding wasn't the career path of choice for all of them.

The six Katydids continue to kill it in Teachers, keeping up one of the strengths of the first season: vivid delineation of each teacher's demeanor. It's highly recommended that you check out the "meet the teachers" segment online, but here's the debrief: Ms. Snap (Colloton) teaches fourth grade, is self-centered and still wants to be a sexpot. She's also quick to anger, and judge-y: "If you have bangs, you have to sit in the back. I just can't."

Ms. Watson (Lambert) is a second-grade teacher. She's an over-sharer who's gone through a break-up and is constantly looking for companionship. "You can say really harsh things as long as you say them sweetly," she tells her class. 

Ms. Bennigan (O'Brien) is also a second-grade teacher. She's very religious and prudish, with a strong desire to be liked and avoid talking about icky things like body parts: "I think the best teachers teach in parables. And wear robes and sandals. And are Jesus."

Ms. Cannon (Barlow) has been upped from fourth-grade "facilitator" to full-time art teacher, and her new mobile classroom is a shopping cart, a spot-on running sight gag about school funding. She's earthy-crunchy, into political activism and being open to all ideas, no matter how bad. She notes: "The No. 1 rule in my class is to question authority. Which makes enforcing the other rules difficult."

Mrs. Adler (Thomas) is a fifth-grade teacher with a potty mouth (well, technically five of the six have the same) and is very keen on preventing kids from making fun of each other. "The one rule of my class is no bullying. Because if you do, I will destroy you." She's married to a slacker (Haley Joel Osment, great) in a metal band called Throat Goblin, and this year Mrs. Adler is featured in one of my two favorite visual jokes when her class is moved to a portable "trailer" and it quickly becomes a trailer-trash site. (The other is Ms. Bennigan having a not very sexy dream involving Ms. Watson and a "hot dad" and declaring, "That's third base!" — it's not — and then Ms. Watson completing the bit by doing something that made me laugh harder than I have in a long time).

Lastly, there's perpetually unprepared Ms. Feldman (Freedman), who "teaches" third grade and just rolls with it until the bell rings. She is, in short, a favorite. And of course there's the dubious and ambiguous Principal Pearson (you'll figure it out), played by the wonderful Tim Bagley.

Having watched the first four episodes of this season, I can say with confidence that Teachers seems even more assured and funny, ramping up some of the raunch without losing the subtle moments that make a lot of the bits land. The Katydids deserve a wider audience for what they're making here, and the series once again manages the near impossible feat of having a lot of kids on the show who aren't cloying or annoying.

It's hard to stick out among the overwhelming abundance of TV, but make a little room for Teachers.

Cast: Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O'Brien and Kathryn Renee Thomas
Executive producers: Alison Brie, Ian Roberts, Jay Martel
Airs: Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT (TV Land)

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