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'Bad Teacher' recap: Daddy issues

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Daddy Issues” | Aired May 1, 2014

While the premise to CBS’s Bad Teacher comes from the 2011 Cameron Diaz film of the same name, the show has a lot more going for it than the movie ever did. Thursday’s episode, “Daddy Issues,” has all the things I need from my PG-13 guilty pleasures: innuendo, cute boys, wacky hijinks and a come-to-Jesus-moment at its conclusion.

This pretty much sums up the basic structure of the series: Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor) seems like a selfish, vapid, queen bee, only out to land a rich husband to replace the one who just divorced her; but really she’s the mean girl with a heart of gold who looks out for her bunch of misfits in the Safety Patrol. Graynor is genius at playing both sides of that coin. Her chemistry crackles (and cracks up) as she excels at being both sexy and a quite a bit of a mess. She’s my kind of lady.

Episode 2, “Daddy Issues,” finds Meredith smitten with Bronwen’s (Grace Kaufman) rich dad, Million-Dollar Mike, played by the charmingly slimy Ken Marino. The episode opens on a scene in which Meredith is holding court with the Safety Patrol gang and her new bestie, the pathologically needy people-pleaser Irene (Sara Gilbert). Meredith doles out dating advice that is both hilarious and highly inappropriate for her middle school ladies-in-waiting. When she realizes that Bronwen’s dad is the rich real estate mogul she’s seen on buses and park benches (insert the requisite joke here: “I’ve sat on his face a MILLION times”), she sets out to land a date when he arrives to pick up Bronwen.

safteypatrolShrugging off the Safety Patrol vest to reveal a far-too-tight-for-public-school dress, she struts over to his car, stolen lollipop in hand, and introduces herself, “Don’t mind the lollipop; it’s an oral fixation.” She giggles and hair-flips her way into a possible date with him — contingent on Brownen’s approval, that is. Meredith is confident that Bronwen will agree, assuring him, “If I had to have a sister, and she had to be a brunette, it would totally be Bronwen.”

Of course Bronwen denies permission, thus setting up the conflict for the rest of the episode, in which Meredith matches wits (and sometimes loses) with the middle schooler. Meredith pulls no punches in the battle and uses classbronwyn time to deliver a lesson about the “Americans” and “Indians,” meant to illustrate the power dynamic in the conflict (which she clearly overestimates). Completely wrong and comically offensive, Meredith likens herself to the Americans that “took the land anyway” when the Indians said no (so I guess she got some of it right). When questioned about this lesson and whether she has even read the history books, she shouts, “I AM THE HISTORY BOOKS!” Class dismissed.

writeyournameonyourarm

Write your name on your arm so the police can identify your body more quickly.

Meanwhile, Irene is stood up by her date she found on JustSomebody.org, and Coach Joel (Ryan Hansen) sits down at her table for two. In a sitcom misunderstanding that would make Three’s Company proud, Irene wrongly deduces that Joel is really TVWatcher359 (her no-show date) and that he concocted the ruse to go on a date with her. The audience sees how insanely wrong that is, and it’s a little hard to believe that Irene would be so naïve. But Joel handles it like a gentleman, allowing her to gently break up with him (something else I found hard to believe) because they were “just friends.” Irene is one of those characters who verges on caricature, and her desperation is hard to watch at times, especially when Meredith is so winning and self-confident. It’s like watching a sloth follow a unicorn around. It’s funny because it’s sad.

For our other subplot, we have David Allen Grier, who plays Principal Carl, a recently divorced, down-on-his-luck optimist who is routinely crapped on by the universe. His ex-wife still controls him, as does his current roommate, Ron, who drinks Carl’s sodas when he’s sleeping. Principal Carl and the student teacher, Kim, have a unique and interesting friendship. They become allies of sorts when she offers him a much-needed boost of encouragement following a very unfortunate bout with a carton of Chinese food juice.  I love a mismatched couple, and I am really looking forward to the ensuing shenanigans this pairing promises. Grier is funny no matter what.

In true Bad Teacher fashion, Bronwen finally comes around to letting Meredith date her dad after a heart-to-heart on the ride home from school (previous episodes have found the girls braiding Meredith’s hair on the bus). Friend Lily (Sara Rodier) finally reveals the real reason Bronwen is so reluctant to allow Meredith to date him: He always neglects her when he is seeing a new lady, buying her presents when he flakes, “but in a bad way.”

meredithmakeupWhen it comes time for Meredith and Mike to leave for their weekend getaway (and it’s always a weekend jaunt with Meredith and these guys) she tries to persuade him to stay for Bronwen’s violin recital. He refuses, citing traffic and a strict appointment for a couple’s massage; when Meredith presses him — well, lectures him — he accuses her of sounding like his ex-wife, after which she promptly breaks up with him. Here’s another moment when I had to suspend my disbelief a little and watch through one eye. Is this believable? Would he really be so reluctant to stay an extra hour at his daughter’s school to watch her play the violin? Probably not, but I am taking it for what it’s worth: a chance for us to see Meredith act like a person, instead a douchebag.

What do you think about Bad Teacher so far? Tweet me and leave your comments below.

For more of Sundi’s opinions and reminders, visit her blog at honestreviewscorner.com.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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