Each episode of the new FX on the Hulu drama A Teacher opens with a content disclaimer: “This series contains sexual situations as well as grooming depictions that can be disturbing” Closing credits lead viewers to a-teachercom resources, an FX site created in conjunction with anti-sexual violence organization RAINN The partnership also resulted in a PSA in which the show’s star, Kate Mara, us informs: “A teacher is a fictional story, but his portrayal of abuse and trauma is real to many young people It is never acceptable for a trusted adult to use their relationship or authority over a young person to manipulate them into sexual activity “
While this framing – complete with terms such as grooming, abuse, and trauma – suggests a clear account of predation, One Teacher turns out to be anything but simple in meager half-hour episodes, including First three will debut on November 10 on Hulu, the series works as a haunting thought experiment for a culture whose collective understanding of sexual misconduct has evolved rapidly over the past three years Yes, some industries have purged themselves of their Kevin Spaceys and Matt Lauers Harvey Weinstein, R Kelly and Bill Cosby are in prison Once-ridiculed concepts like feminist hysteria, from rape culture to assent consent, have become mainstream Yet A Teacher highlights areas of Me Too discourse that remain obscure What if the criminal happened to be a short, pretty woman and his apparent victim was a male athlete? What if he’s past the age of consent and about to turn 18? What if he kisses her first? What if she wasn’t a master manipulator but an emotional wreck? What if they are in love?
Creator Hannah Fidell, who wrote and directed much of the series, bit on these questions for nearly a decade, starting with an indie film also titled A Teacher which premiered at Sundance. in 2013 Slight feature at just 75 minutes, the original version joined an already ongoing verboten sex relationship between a reckless, immature, single, 20-year-old high school teacher (Lindsay Burdge) and her domineering, arrogant student (Will Brittain), culminating in an inevitable crisis when she can’t control her obsession with him.The serialized format of the series allows Fidell to develop more specific and detailed characters and span their story over more than a decade, tracing both origins of the central relationship and, above all, its long consequences It also gives her a space to explore ideas about gender, power and consent that have gained new urgency, with the survivor sensitivity these topics demand.
To that end, FX’s A Teacher takes an in-depth look at the main characters Mara plays the titular Claire Wilson, a new English teacher at Westerbrook High School in suburban Texas, who is struggling with her marriage to her husband. Matt (Ashley Zukerman), a musician turned medical supplies salesman, is often on business trips They struggle to get pregnant “According to Instagram, we’re the only people in our 30s without kids and dogs,” Claire tells him, jokingly but no kidding, when she premiered she channels her frustrations into running, petty theft and teaching poems like Dylan Thomas “Don’t be nice on that good night”
While his counterpart in the film is a jockish figure – whose weak characterization sadly required more empathy for the predator than his victim – Fidell writes Westerbrook senior Eric Walker (Love, Simon star Nick Robinson) with more depth An attractive and popular football player surrounded by knucklehead pals, he’s also a strong student with a single mom who spends much of his free time looking after his two sibling children or working in a local restaurant These responsibilities have given Eric a maturity that sets him apart from his idle and spoiled peers
The grooming process begins, almost imperceptibly, when he asks her to give him tutoring for the SATs And it looks, at least to both characters, like a back and forth yard Most of the time Eric seems to be chasing Claire ; she periodically tries to cut off extracurricular contacts Yet she must know that she is entering dangerous territory as she starts lying to her husband about private lessons before they first meet And even before they start having sex sexual, she also makes decisions that show shocking poor judgment.The Point of No Return doesn’t come with a particular physical act, but when she takes him on a tour of the UT Austin campus and they drink together on a frat party with barrels and eggs Fidell spends about half of the 10-episode series in the period before things start to unfold, which seems a bit too much Every secret, potentially scandalous – or sexually abusive affair in disguise in the latter – follows roughly the same story arc
Teacher finally finds purpose after Claire and Eric have been, very publicly, separated She is initially an outcast, while in college he is revered as a folk hero Fidell wisely leaves the lawsuits and paparazzi bonanzas unfold offscreen, preventing the show from veering into Mary Kay Letourneau’s territory But a decade is a long time Their respective trajectories are both impossible to predict and totally believable Eric is a wonderful character – a guy who was drafted because of his good looks, laid back demeanor and athleticism into sophomore cliques, whose path to self-knowledge is tortuous A 25-year-old veteran artist Robinson does justice to his identity developing, giving it several layers of depth adapted to its age: charm, intelligence, naivety, contradictory flashes of arrogance and fragility (Mara does a great job of portraying Claire’s selfishness and delusion, although I found Burdge’s chaotic turn to be more compelling)
It’s no coincidence that Me Too started in the entertainment industry Over the years, film and television have done a lot of harm in normalizing teacher mistreatment of their teenage students, especially in cases where the adult is male The free-form thriller Pretty Little Liars, which ran for seven seasons from 2010 and won multiple Teen Choice Awards, famously portrayed one of these recurring relationships, often using the intentions of English teacher Ezra ( Ian Harding) towards his student / girlfriend Aria (Lucy Hale) as the source of soapy suspense While it sparked some controversy at the time, it’s hard not to wonder about the level of reaction the show might have faced had it not been for not ended months before the Weinstein bomb
TV creators now need to pay more attention to these storylines, and that’s a good thing. It means more sensitivity to victims of abuse, fewer tongue-in-cheek deployments of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” and a requirement for a long time to educate young viewers on this subject rather than using it just for entertainment.The resulting stories could be painfully didactic, which is just a good reason to simply stop revisiting the worn-out trope (Those who are tempted to dismiss such a choice as political correctness might wonder why the student-teacher sexual narrative is so prevalent in the first place) But there is little room for holiness in A Teacher Fidell is less interested in monster hunting only to bring attention to how communities and the criminal justice system exacerbate high-profile sex crimes and to reveal the myriad ways don t trauma can stain the lives of two people Part of the tragedy is it is possible to inflict profound harm without harboring any malice
World News – US – A teacher’s thorny story about gender, power and consent will lodge in and stay in your mind