Imagine a high school where the students are struggling and would rather just mess around. A teacher walks in and makes learning fun, but most of the time instead of teaching, he tries to fit in with the kids and befriends them.
Yes, it’s time to review Bad Education season one. We start with our main character, Alfie Wickers, who doesn’t look like he’s in any mood to go to work. He walks past one of the other teachers played by Doctor Who actress Michelle Gomez. I know she’s been in other projects, but she’ll always be Missy to me. Carrying on, a school bully nudges him, but Alfie doesn’t seem to care. He walks up to a sink and throws up in there. You’d think he’s in a bathroom, but he turns around to the disgust of the children. It’s an art class as he tells them to carry on and walks to his actual class.
Jing, a Chinese student approaches him with a form register and yells at him in Chinese about his efforts as a teacher. He remarks on her beautiful language and tells her to sit down. Chantelle is another student in the class who clearly has a crush on him and then says something creepy, but funny to him. He is just worried about himself at this point. Rem Dogg is a typical teenager who likes to have an excuse no matter what the situation. He’s in a wheelchair and he always has the most obscure questions that are really entertaining to watch. He is being helped by Mitchell, Rem Dogg’s best friend and someone who can insult Alfie on a similar level.
Alfie asks his favourite student to get him some sort of hangover cure from the first aid box because Alfie says it’s a Monday morning and I’m hungover. His favourite student is a shy kid named Joe who accidentally replies with “yes, dad.” That’s happened to students before, including myself. It happens, you spend so much time in school with these grownups, you accidentally say “yes, mum” or “yes, dad” Mitchell remarks on Joe calling Alfie ‘Dad’ but Alfie drops a one liner that you should never say to a student “shut up Mitchell, at least he knows who his dad is” Mitchell has gone quiet.
The dynamic between this teacher and his students is brilliant, he likes to teach the students in a way he finds acceptable, but other teachers don’t like. He’s asleep at the desk with ‘Hangover Class’ written on the board behind him, but Michelle Gomez walks in and slams the door behind her. Her name is Pickwell and she’s the deputy head teacher. Alfie sees her as an SS officer and there’s a lot of jokes he tries to use on her. She’s all business though, calling him away from class to talk about marking mock exam papers. He calls her by her first name Isobel, but she doesn’t like it. He is told that he has a deadline to mark all the mock exam papers as well as talk to the parents on Parent Evening.
Later Alfie’s in the staff room and he puts his letter into another teacher’s pigeonhole. This is where we meet Miss Rosie Gulliver. Alfie once had a date with her and still brings it up to her. She’s broken up with someone else and Alfie is telling her how perfect she is. She talks about concentrating on charity work as Alfie confuses the two subjects she’s speaking of and looks disgusted, but she clarifies what she actually meant.
Then it moves straight into something Alfie calls Class Wars. He’s teaching them History, but it’s all role-playing in the classroom. Today’s lesson is Pearl Harbour. Rem Dogg is a tank, while Joe is Josh Hartnett and another student is Ben Affleck. He’s asking where his ‘Beckinsale’ is as Chantelle and the gay student are fighting for the role. The gay student wins the nurse role. They question him about the other news. They might all fail their mock exams. Everyone looks upset and comes up with threats for him to mark the papers.
Grayson, the school bully takes Alfie’s shoes as he walks to the headmaster’s office, his name is Fraser and he makes cringeworthy puns. Fraser finds out Rosie is single and asks Alfie to be his wingman. He’s back in class and crying as the male students tell him to pull himself together. They take turns slapping him in the face. Jing insults him but somehow Alfie translates that to the students marking their own papers.
Fraser and Rosie are talking as Alfie walks up to them, she’s supporting a charity and Alfie tries to impress her by saying Joe’s mum has a disease. Rosie wants Alfie to include Joe’s mum because of the things Alfie said about her. Alfie manages to get Joe to go along with his silly plan. Alfie meets Pickwell, who figures out that his marking plan has failed. Later on at Parents Evening, he gets awkward with the parents. Pickwell sits in front of him as he tries to defend his students with the skills they do have.
He sees Joe talk to Rosie about something as Joe rushes over to Alfie to tell him that one thing led to another and a new lie has been added. His fictional mum is now thought to be dead. Rosie is on stage giving a eulogy about Joe’s mum as Joe’s mum is in the audience. It turns sour as Alfie gets on a chair to salvage the situation. Joe also joins in to help but the situation worsens.
The second episode is all about sex education and there are exchange students in the school, who are more open to talking about sex education. Alfie starts the day by dealing with the bully, Grayson. Fraser calls Alfie into the assembly hall where Stephen does a performance about gender equality. Alfie finally uses the gay student’s name. The students are cheering on while the parents look appalled with the display.The parents complain to Fraser afterwards, it becomes awkward. Teachers are squaring off with worried parents. Fraser offers to let the parents sit in on a class that the other teachers will do about sex education.
Rosie teaches a female students only class, while Pickwell reads from what I can only assume is the Bible and uses fear tactics to teach the boys. The elderly teacher is showing them a video of two dogs humping. Alfie is teaching his class as Rem Dogg starts a discussion about the exchange students, some of the humour is reminiscent of the Inbetweeners. The jokes are very similar, quick dry witted humour throughout.
Rosie talks about inspiring honesty so Alfie convinces Joe to come out as gay so he can help him win over Rosie. The parents are sitting in Alfie’s class as well as the Dutch exchange students. Alfie walks in, laid back and ready to teach everyone. He tries to get Joe to come out as gay, but Joe is reluctant to share. One of the Dutch students talks about his experiences and it gets awkward for everyone. Alfie pressures Joe into saying that he’s gay to inspire honesty. Joe ends up denying it as everyone else makes a comment and the situation gets worse. He eventually stops the commotion by talking honestly about himself and his experiences. Afterwards, Rosie approaches him and commends him on his bravery to be honest like that. She leaves and Fraser tells him the parents are angry with Alfie and want him to be fired. Fraser offers for Alfie to go to Holland instead. He is joined by the school bully, Grayson.
I really wanted to get all of season one in one article but there’s so much going on with the school through the eyes of the teachers and the pressures of what the students have to go through in high school that I’ve just managed to cover the first two episodes. The character development of both students and teachers is great. This review has managed to add recap style bits in there, through some fault of my own. The show is a lot of fun but like most British comedy shows, it only goes on for a few seasons. You need to find this show and see for yourself, it’s quite humorous and sweet with the efforts that the teachers make as well as the students.
You can find this show on Amazon to buy or I think it’s on Netflix US, it’s definitely on Netflix UK to stream. I personally have a copy of all 3 seasons on dvd and the movie and can instantly rewatch an episode at any time because of the humour in the show.
Thank you for reading, you can find me on Twitter with the handle @immiebroods if you wish to discuss this show and your thoughts on it.