“I’m the man!” screams Eric Walker to himself in the mirror at the beginning of the fourth episode of the Hulu drama series “A Teacher.” His hype comes moments after sleeping with his AP English teacher and SAT tutor Claire Wilson, a new teacher at his high school.
The series released its first three episodes Nov. 10 with each following episode being released on Mondays on a weekly basis.
Viewers watched the suspense and sexual tension build between the married teacher and the minor, coming to a climax in the third episode when after high tensions, an illicit kiss and secret adventures, the two climbed into the back of Claire’s car and engaged in sex.
The fourth episode dealt with the aftermath of the situation: Claire became more sexually dominant at home with her husband while Eric became more confident in himself as a growing man. However, the fear of getting caught propelled Claire to set rules for the pair: no one can ever know what they’re doing, secret names for one another and only hooking up on Mondays.
“A Teacher” isn’t the first tv show to recently depict such relationships in a romantic or sexual manner. “Pretty Little Liars” is one that a lot of us grew up watching as it demonstrated the ups and downs of the dating world for high school teacher Ezra and student Aria. While those two got a happy ending by the end of the series, many hope to not see a repeat of that in Hulu’s A Teacher.
Each episode begins and ends with a trigger warning and information about resources for those experiencing grooming or sexual exploitation. A key difference between “Pretty Little Liars” and “A Teacher,” there’s a self-awareness by the series and the Hulu platform itself of the harm shows can create by romanticizing these illegal relationships. Whereas many devoted viewers dedicated themselves to Ezra and Aria and hoped to see them succeed, the same dedication can’t be found for Eric and Claire.
It’s difficult to predict what will happen to Claire and Eric in the upcoming episodes, but I hope that real consequences are shown and not a fantasy. It’s important to remember that Eric is a student and a minor: none of his actions are truly consensual and Claire’s authority makes her a predator.
For anyone experiencing difficult situations, some resources to check out are https://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/a-teacher/resources, https://www.internetmatters.org/issues/online-grooming/deal-with-it/ and https://www.trynova.org/help-for-crime-victims/