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 (Photograph: Sonja Flemming)1/8
Photograph: Sonja FlemmingAri Graynor in Bad Teacher
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Photograph: Sonja FlemmingAri Graynor, Madison De La Garza and Gracie Kaufman in Bad Teacher
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Photograph: Sonja FlemmingCaitlin Kimball, Kristen Davis, and Ari Graynor in Bad Teacher
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Photograph: Sonja FlemmingAri Graynor and Sara Gilbert in Bad Teacher
 (Photograph: Sonja Flemming)5/8
Photograph: Sonja FlemmingSara Gilbert and Ari Graynor in Bad Teacher
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Photograph: Sonja FlemmingSara Gilbert and Ari Graynor in Bad Teacher
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Photograph: Sonja FlemmingGracie Kaufman, Sara Rodier, Ari Graynor and Sara Gilbert in Bad Teacher
 (Photograph: Art Streiber)8/8
Photograph: Art StreiberKristin Davis, David Alan Grier, Ari Graynor, Sara Gilbert, Ryan Hansen and Sara Rodier in Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher: TV review

The fetching Ari Graynor isn't enough to make Bad Teacher good

By Jessica Johnson

Premieres Thursday, April 24 at 8:30pm on CBS.

It's unclear why CBS thought re-making 2011's Bad Teacher as a sitcom was idea that any audience would be clamoring for, especially theirs. The best parts of that highly mediocre R-rated comedy had a lot more to do with the talents of its cast than the material. And while the TV series has reeled in some impressive and underrated comedic performers, they're wasted in this repetitive and annoying series.

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Trophy wife Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor) discovers that she's left with no money or assets after her husband dumps her for a younger woman. A quick visit to the local middle school to pick up her friend's daughter (Sara Rodier) alerts her to a ripe crop of single dads—and Meredith has a grand new plan for reeling in her next sugar daddy.

After forging her resume and sweet-talking the principal (David Alan Grier), Meredith lands a job at the school and immediately starts milking her students for information about their wealthy and eligible fathers. However, the relationships she forges with her students and fellow teachers begin to make Meredith re-evaluate her priorities.

Like her fellow Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist co-star Kat Dennings, Graynor's comic talents are hopelessly underutilized in her CBS persona. While she certainly looks great in the array shorts skirts and push-up bras in which she's costumed, Meredith is a hopelessly dull and shallow character. Each episode of Bad Teacher takes her through the same arc as she tries to net a guy or obtain some other self-centered goal, only to learn that maybe she should put others needs before herself. It's as if immediately after the camera stops rolling an anvil falls on her head and she re-sets back to square one, doomed to re-learn the same lesson each episode in a Groundhog Day cycle.

Bad Teacher's supporting cast doesn't fare any better than its leading lady. The hilarious Grier is horribly wasted in a watered down version of Tim Meadows sad sack principal from Mean Girls. Ryan Hansen, who's proved his comic chops in Veronica Mars and Party Down, is tied down in the dull role of Meredith's good-guy love interest.

Kristen Davis finds herself in the unwelcome position of having to replicate Lucy Punch's electric performance from the film as Meredith's lone adversary in the school, and misses the mark completely, making it all nag and losing the edge of uptight, awkward humor that Punch perfected. Sara Gilbert is saddled with the most thankless of roles as an outcast amongst the teachers whose most defining characteristic is a possession of pet ferrets. A far cry from the sassiness of Darlene Conner, Gilbert's Irene is offensively drippy and it's impossible not to cringe when she's onscreen.

Like many other CBS comedies, Bad Teacher mistakes its repetitive arsenal of crass and lewd gags for actual humor and fails to define its characters beyond their surface quirks and plot functions. It's not just a clever name—Bad Teacher really is quite awful.


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