required viewing: TV Land’s hilariously dark “Teachers”

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If you’ve ever been a 20-something hot mess, you’ll fit right in with the island of misfit toys that is that cast of Teachers.

The show drew me in the second I saw a scene in their commercial where a teacher tells the popular students to stand in the center of a circle while everyone else grabs a dodgeball. One popular girl sneers. “What’s this stupid game called, anyway?” she asks. “Getting even,” the teacher responds before the girl is pelted with rubber balls by her classmates. How could you not love that??

Teachers centers on the lives of six 20-something teachers as they try to get their shit together both in their personal lives and in their jobs at a nondescript Midwestern elementary school. Though it might sound like a plot straight out of an ’80s sitcom — in fitting with the rest of TV Land’s rerun-based lineup — the show has a decidedly modern feel. The writing is hilariously crass and not out of place with typical conversations among the younger Gen (admit it, Millennials — you’ve had a conversation about anal bleaching, STDs, and/or drugs in a less-than-appropriate setting at some point in your fledgling career. Or is that just me?). One of the teachers films an audition tape for The Bachelor. Another steals shutter shades (re-popularized in a few years ago by — who else? — Yeezy) out of the lost and found.

The show is starred in and produced by improv comedy group The Katydids (their name is a play on the fact that all their names are derivations on “Katherine” — Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien, and Kathryn Renee Thomas). The other half of the production team? Community‘s Alison Brie and Key & Peele‘s Ian Roberts and Jay Martel. It’s an all-star comedy production group, but, really, just the fact that the show has an exclusively female writers’ room should be enough to pique your interest.

Though some may find it a little too dark/might get creeped out by how these teachers are totally corrupting their students, The Katydids claim that every bizarre story line is inspired by a real life experience. “We know that there is definitely over the top stuff here,” O’Brien told The Observer in a recent interview, “But we had a rule in our writers’ room – if it’s real and you’ve experienced it, it’s going in, no matter how ridiculous it might seem.” And the inspiration behind these teacher-student interactions — the idea that kids, essentially, say the darndest things and make a great sounding board when honesty is required — should ring true for anyone who’s ever had a heart-to-heart with a child.

Teachers, along with the also hilarious series Younger (which stars one of my favorite comedic all-stars, Sutton Foster), are a serious push away from TV Land’s usual programming. Because they air late-night on cable, the channel is able to push boundaries with their new, original, raunchy programming to rival competitors like Comedy Central.

Give it a try. Even if you find it totally disturbing, the high school nerd in you will secretly delight in watching one teacher fulfill her revenge fantasy of beating up her former bully.

Teachers airs Wednesdays at 10:30pm on TV Land.

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