An Examination of Hulu’s New TV Show “A Teacher”

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

From the first trailer to the premiere of the first episode, “A Teacher” has been trending non-stop on social media. The limited series tackles mature content through its depiction of a teacher’s inappropriate affair with her 17-year-old male student. 

 

Nick Robinson portrays Eric -- the teenage victim of this narrative -- who engages in a relationship with his English teacher Claire, played by Kate Mara. 

 

Initially, I was concerned about the subject matter being displayed on television because I assumed it would be glorified for entertainment purposes; however, the show creators maintain an uncomfortable tone throughout the episodes that clearly denounces the relationship between the two main characters.

 

Immediately, “A Teacher”’ communicates to the audience that Claire is a predator. 

 

In order to ensure that the viewers appropriately see the teacher as a groomer -- and not a caring adult -- the director uses specific music and closeups to convey the creepy nature of her demeanor with Eric.

 

In my opinion, this is one of the most important aspects of the show, because it would be very simple for this type of connection to be sexualized or to be illustrated as two star crossed-lovers that the audience ultimately wants to be together.

 

“Pretty Little Liars,” the hit show from FreeForm, also delved upon the concept of teachers and students dating outside of the classroom. 

 

college classroom Photo by Shubham Sharan from Unsplash

Although both of these shows depict student and teacher relationships, the showrunners of “Pretty Little Liars” decided to normalize the relationship between the two characters. This is incredibly damaging to the minds of young people because they may begin to fetishize these relationships, rather than seeing them for what they truly are.

 

Alarmingly, “Pretty Little Liars” depicted the inappropriate relationship between a 15-year-old girl and her 22-year-old teacher as normal and acceptable. Even today as I look back on the show, I still think of them as a cute couple, even though that could not be further from the truth.

 

Conversely, I have no trouble seeing the relationship between Eric and Claire for what it is: unacceptable and quite honestly, unsettling. 

 

Another way in which the showrunners develop the uncomfortable atmosphere that presides over the characters is by exploring both Eric and Claire’s perspectives surrounding their impending relationship. 

 

From Eric’s point of view, Claire is a teacher who truly cares about his future and takes an active role in assuring that he succeeds in attending a good college. The attentive behavior that Eric receives from Claire causes him to develop an attraction towards her. 

 

Simultaneously, Claire is stuck in an unhappy marriage to a man that she no longer loves, which is why she becomes possessive over Eric after he begins to show her affection. 

 

As seen in the preview, the rest of the series will continue to show the development of their affair, and the ramifications on both parties when it is ultimately exposed. 

 

“A Teacher” is a 10-episode limited series on Hulu that airs every Tuesday.