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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Those Who Can't

Article first published as Amazon Originals Those Who Can't Review on TheTVKing.

I finally found the stinker in the lineup of Amazon Originals pilots, released online this week. Those Who Can't is an unfunny, offensive, unrealistic look at lazy, slacking teachers in a high school. These men would never have made it through their student teaching, PRAXIS tests, or earned a Master's degree, as is required of teachers, and would have long been fired. When teachers have so recently been unfairly attacked in the political and social landscape, the last thing the profession needs is a piling on like this.

There are three main teachers in the show: Loren Payton (Adam Cayton-Holland), Ben Shoemaker (Benjamin Roy), and Coach Andy Fairbell (Andrew Orvedahl). They spend their days planting drugs on students, ignoring authority and responsibility, conducting illegal urine tests, flaunting arm tattoos, and engaging in illegal behavior. They think nothing of miming a sex act in the hallway, in full view of the student body, or hiring thugs to beat up a problem student. Ick.

None of the three cast members have many, if any, acting credits to their name, and all are listed as writers of this "Pilot." As far as their performances go, I don't really have any complaints there. I hate their show, but they sell the parts, and are committed to their roles.

Heading up this terrible school and staff is Principal Barry Quinn (Rory Scovel, Dead Monkey). He is a "feeler," more concerned with befriending everyone than handing out discipline. He acts frustrated with the teachers and threatens them with being fired, then hugs them and loses all sense of credibility. Barry, like the teachers, would never make it in the real world, but only by creating such a weak, pathetic leader can the teachers justifiably keep their jobs past episode one.

There are also a couple of gals, seemingly to round things out, gender-wise, though only one gets any part in the "Pilot" to speak of: the librarian, Abbey Logan (Nikki Glaser, Nikki & Sara Live!), the unwilling, but not totally discouraging, subject of Loren's affections. The others, Andy's wife, Crystal (Madison Champine), an old teacher named Gladys (Catherine McGuire), secretary Tammy (Erica Brown), and the smoking hot cafeteria worker (Adiamond Baker), have no development, and are played as stereotypes or cliches. Again, none of these actresses have much screen credit, but conduct themselves fine, considering the parts they play.

The only character I actually like in this "Pilot" is Beth (Shanna Grace), a student who seemingly doesn't deserve to be picked on, but whom Coach Fairbell outs as pregnant in front of her classmates when she herself doesn't even know. I felt bad for her, and her small bit was memorable.

Despite how distasteful I find this representation of educators, I wouldn't complain if it was funny. Reno 9-1-1 is terrible towards cops, but it's also hilarious, and no one would ever believe it's how the actual police act. The characters here belong in an office setting like Workaholics, not in a school, as that is where these men would end up, at best. Those Who Can't skews just close enough to reality to be eaten up by the ignorant, but far enough away to have no redeeming qualities. Education can take smart satire, but Those Who Can't is dumb comedy, aimed at the lowest common denominator.

I know there are bad teachers out there, but Those Who Can't takes it to the extreme in the worst possible way. I don't know why teachers have become the subject of such mean-spirited shots of late, but the profession doesn't deserve this, and combined with the lack of laughs this "Pilot" got (none), Those Who Can't is the one Amazon Originals series I would be highly disappointed to see picked up.

Those Who Can't is posted now on Amazon.com

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