“Look, it gets better — just not right away, and honestly not for everybody. It’ll probably only get better for one of you.” That’s just one bit of questionable advice doled out by Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor) as she reluctantly begins mentoring a group of awkward girls in CBS’ Bad Teacher, an adaptation of Cameron Diaz’ 2011 big-screen comedy.
And while the Bad Teacher pilot, which premiered tonight (9:30/8:30c), could’ve used even more of that brazen energy, Graynor’s tart, eye-rolling delivery kept things interesting, despite the occasional clichés and lack of fleshed-out supporting characters.
Here’s the setup, in a nutshell: We open on Meredith finding out from her attorney that she’s walking away with nothing from her divorce to cheating yacht salesman Ray, thanks to an ironclad prenup. Heartbroken (and just plain broke) she moves into her friends’ guest house, agrees to pick up their daughter Lily (Sara Rodier) from school and discovers the place is teeming with hot, wealthy, single dads.
Copying off an Asian teacher’s résumé — one of the pilot’s laziest gags — and providing a sympathetic shoulder to recently divorced principal Carl (David Alan Grier), Meredith lands an open slot teaching social-studies, and is soon strutting down the halls in leather and leopard, hilariously flipping her hair and holding a “Career Day” that’s nothing more than a way to get intel about various dads’ tax brackets and relationship statuses. Along the way, she picks up a mousy best friend (Sarah Gilbert), a sexy flirting-sparring partner coach (Ryan Hansen) and an amusingly uptight rival (Kristin Davis, presenting at all times with barely repressed rage).
Shallow as she appears on the surface, though, it turns out that Meredith’s got a squishy center. As she prepares to blow off work for a date with a sexy doctor, she sees Lily and her two dorky pals (including Desperate Housewives‘ firecracker Madison De La Garza) getting bullied by their mean-girl tormentors. Passing up her ticket to weekend fun (and potential early retirement), Meredith leads her band of misfits back into the lunchroom and helps ‘em reclaim their stolen table. “Oh, you guys, I don’t think they know how to read,” she purrs, when Lily points out a sign regarding the lack of assigned seating. “And they’re not hot enough to pull it off.”
Yeah, you can see the win coming from about three minutes into the episode, but it doesn’t mean it’s not satisfying. Oh, and speaking of satisfied, the episode closes with Meredith waking up next to that hot gym teacher. Whoops!
What did you think of the Bad Teacher pilot? Will you return for Episode 2? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!