This past Friday, online behemoth Amazon released eight comedy television pilots, and one of the contenders, you might be interested to know, is about high school teachers.
The backstory is that Amazon wants to enter the original programming TV business, in the same fashion as Netflix did with the popular series "House of Cards." The pilot(s) with the most positive reception, including full views (beginning to end) and feedback, have a shot at full production. There are also six pilots for children's TV.
In "Those Who Can't," three high school teachers offer a unique approach to education, which is the most diplomatic phrasing I can offer. The title might be meant to evoke the old phrase "Those who can't, teach," but it actually means that these teachers just, well, can't.
Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl, and Benjamin Roy wrote and star in the show, which spun off from their comedy web series "The Grawlix."
In the pilot, directed by Adam Nix and Evan Nix, the three teachers find a common enemy in Bryce, a high school lacrosse player that torments each of them. To retaliate, the teachers attempt to buy drugs and frame Bryce for possession. In other words, for any teachers that look forward to the day when "that student" no longer haunts them, "Those Who Can't" is the show for you.
Cayton-Holland, a former substitute teacher, noted in an interview that the teachers represent the worst of the stars' character traits. "It's for the teacher who's hungover and shows a video. It's for those teachers," he said.
Filming took place in Denver, which the comedians call home, with support—believe it or notfrom some of the Denver public schools. Theater departments found high school students to be actors, and filming took place in multiple schools.
Among the eight comedy pilots, "Those Who Can't" currently ranks second in user reviews, after "Betas," about a group of app creators looking for an investor. Collectively, the pilots already account for some of the heaviest traffic on Amazon's instant-video service.
All of Amazon's original pilots are now free to watch online for the next month. Note that "Those Who Can't" contains some profanity.
Here's a promotional clip, to give you a sample:
Ross Brenneman is a contributing writer for Rules for Engagement.