By Candace Havens
When Harvard philosophy scholar Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) makes some bad choices and ends up losing his dream job, he lands in Toledo as a teacher for A.P. BIO, premiering last night with a special preview at 9:30 p.m. on NBC. Students who want to learn something might want to take a different class because Jack is not interested in teaching. He is, however, using said students to help exact revenge against his nemesis, dating their moms and generally exhibiting the worst behavior a teacher could.
It helps that he’s funny.
The show has a bit of a COMMUNITY feel with out of touch administrators and teachers who do whatever they want to. Poor Principal Durbin (Patton Oswalt) isn’t sure how to handle Jack. “What I loved about Mike’s (O’Brien, executive producer, and creator) scripts was there was a lot of subtle stuff about wanting to be the cool guy, but the minute you’re in authority, no matter how cool you are, you are no longer the cool guy. You are the authoritative figure. So, there’s a lot of really great human riffs in there about trying to maintain a level of coolness while telling people what and what not to do, and that made it very, very easy to play, because I understand that, wanting to not look dumb and awkward and yet you’re in a position where you can only look dumb and awkward. So that was really, really fun to get to play.”
Jack’s peers at the school aren’t much better than he is. Three of them (Lyric Lewis, Mary Sohn and Jean Villepique) have a mean girl vibe that works. They also get some of the best lines. “The three teachers to me were based on my older sisters and their friends,” O’Brien says. “I had two older sisters, and there was always, like, five friends around the house. And they would just own you. They just owned you. You say any sentence, and they’re, like, hilariously burning and piling on you right away. You just got emasculated in a good way at age 12. And that’s what these were to me. And these guys then made it a whole other level of human and awesome to me, and I think that hopefully, that speaks to the type of comedy, and maybe these guys’ experience was like that.”