TV Review: SCHOOLED takes center stage with RENT inspired episode

JANUARY 8, 2019: SCHOOLED – “Money for RENT” – After Mellor tells Lainey that sports are king at William Penn, she sets out to put on the Broadway hit musical “Rent” to show Mellor the arts are just as important as athletics on “Schooled,” airing WEDNESDAY, JAN. 23 (8:30-9:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal) AJ MICHALKA, BRYAN CALLEN

The ABC comedy SCHOOLED premiered just a month ago and has really proven itself to be a shining star on the Wednesday evening lineup. I will admit now that I have a soft spot for the bright energy of an ABC sitcom and SCHOOLED ticks off a lot of boxes for me: 1) high school setting 2) sassy leading lady (AJ Michalka) who wants to shake up the establishment 3) a cast of side characters so goofy and delusional you want to follow them to the ends of the earth to see what they get themselves into. Add into the story a touch of nineties nostalgia and I’m starting to think the writers must have a murder-wall in their bungalow with my picture in the middle of a web of red string.

Tonight’s episode, “Money for Rent,” goes Broadway with a student performance of RENT lead by unwitting new drama club sponsor Lainey (Michalka) while CB (Brett Dier) and Mr. Glascott (Tim Meadows) try to shape young minds outside the classroom with a well-meaning but bumbling attempt at teaching boys health class. As Lainey focuses on nurturing the drama students’ passion for performing, she goes up against Mr. Mellor (Bryan Callen) whose vengeful response to losing his star football player to the bright lights of the stage nearly ruins Lainey’s show.

On the other side of William Penn Charter School CB and Mr. Glascott name disagree over how to engage with the boys’ health class and the tough questions about puberty no one wants to answer. CB prides himself on the connection he feels with his students, but even this hip teacher cannot stomach the questions the kids have. At one point he tries to get around his discomfort by introducing a comically large box for anonymous submission of questions, only to have it backfire spectacularly when he couldn’t even read the papers without fleeing the room. The musical theater plotline in “Money for Rent” was a delight and a touching nod to the impact RENT had on children of the nineties. Selecting the musical for the students beautifully paralleled the overall theme of supporting and inspiring passions in those around you. Lainey and Mr. Mellor’s power struggle fuels the episode, but it’s when they recognize that their interests are not exclusive that they can both fulfill their mission – empowering their students to find their passions and to run with them.

SCHOOLED airs Wednesday, February 13 on ABC.

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