A Teacher TV Review
A Teacher TV Review Metabox
Mary Kay Letourneau is a name that lives in infamy. It’s nearly impossible to find someone who doesn’t remember or know about her torrid affair 20 years ago with her middle school student. Amazingly, though, one only receives blank stares if asking a friend to name any other teacher who has had an affair with their student — this despite it being much more commonplace today.
Adapted from a rarely seen 2013 independent film of the same name, FX on Hulu premieres its controversial new series A Teacher about a female high school teacher’s affair with her 17-year old male student. Set in 2014, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson) and his friends Josh (Dylan Schmid) and Logan (Shane Harper) are beginning their senior year. On top of the world, the three boys are like many kids their age —enjoying hanging out with one another, partying with friends, and hooking up with girls.
Eric — a good looking kid, popular with his classmates and captain of the soccer team — seemingly has it all. Yet, the child of a single parent, Eric, works a part-time job to help put food on the table and raise money to go to college, a dream that is unattainable if he is unable to secure a scholarship. Enter his new English teacher, the young, attractive Claire Wilson (Kate Mara). Besides being easy on the eyes, Eric sees Ms. Wilson as his chance for a higher SAT score and entry into college. Little does he know that his teenage crush is about to become much, much more.
Claire, married to her college sweetheart, Matt (Ashley Zukerman), is seemingly stuck in a marriage that alternates between stressed and having already run its course. In her 30’s with no children and no pets, Claire and Matt attempt to get pregnant, but the often traveling Matt is distant from Claire even when they’re together. Perhaps it’s that boredom that finds her risking her job, husband, and freedom for something fresh and exciting.
Both teacher and student come from fractured households — Eric with a father who walked out on his mother when he was born and Claire with a mother who died young, leaving her to care for her alcoholic father. Perhaps it is that absence that both are seeking to replace.
A Teacher divides its season into two halves: the first following Eric and Claire’s steamy affair and the back half detailing the fallout of their inappropriate dalliance. Eric’s life, living many a male teenager’s dreams of sleeping with his hot teacher and secretly escaping for sexual encounters, is bookended by how that experience has shaped his post-high school life. From reckless sex to ruthless behavior, the damage is done in different ways.
The series is difficult to watch and includes disclaimers at the beginning and the end of each episode if those watching have been groomed by an adult or know of someone who is being groomed. Watching Claire lust after Eric from across the room is disturbing. Hearing her set ground rules even more so. Watching the after-effects of their leaked affair is dark and depressing. Through it all, it feels more real than any other series or movie tackling abuse of power.
A Teacher isn’t for everyone due to its contentious subject matter. Still, for those who watch, Mara’s and Robinson’s strong performances paint a vivid, backseat view of their psychological rollercoaster.