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It is never OK for a trusted adult to use their relationship with or authority over a young person to manipulate them into sexual activity. Although this framing—complete with terms like groomingabuse and trauma —suggests a clear narrative of predation, A Teacher turns out to be anything but simple. In lean, half-hour episodes, the first three of which will debut Nov. Yes, some industries have been purging themselves of their Kevin Spaceys and Matt Lauers. Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly and Bill Cosby are in prison.
Concepts once mocked as feminist hysteria, from rape culture to affirmative consenthave gone mainstream. Yet A Teacher shines light on areas of the Me Too discourse that remain murky. What if the criminal happens to be a tiny, pretty woman and her ostensible victim is a strapping male athlete?
What if he kisses her first? Creator Hannah Fidell, who wrote and directed much of the show, has been chewing on these questions for the better part of a decade, beginning with an independent film also titled A Teacher that premiered at Sundance in It also gives her space to explore ideas about gender, power and consent that have gained new urgency, with the sensitivity to survivors those topics demand.
Her husband Matt Ashley Zukermana musician turned medical-supplies salesman, is often away on business. While his counterpart in the film is a jockish cypher—whose thin characterization unfortunately demanded Fun with no drama married male with permission empathy for the predator than for her victim—Fidell writes Westerbrook senior Eric Walker Love, Simon star Nick Robinson with more depth. These responsibilities have given Eric a maturity that sets him apart from his idle, spoiled peers. The grooming process begins, almost imperceptibly, when he asks her to tutor him for the SATs.
And it feels, to both of the characters at least, like a two-way courtship. Most of the time, Eric seems to pursue Claire; she periodically tries to cut off extracurricular contact. And even before they start having sex, she also makes decisions that show shockingly poor judgment. The point of no return comes not with any particular physical act, but when she takes him on a UT Austin campus visit and they drink together at a kegs-and-eggs frat party.
Fidell spends about half of the episode series on the period before things start to come unraveled, which seems like a bit much. Every secretive, potentially scandalous affair—or sexually abusive relationship disguised as the latter—follows pretty much the same story arc.
A Teacher finally finds its purpose once Claire and Eric have been, very publicly, pulled apart. Fidell wisely lets trials and paparazzi bonanzas play out offscreen, which keeps the show from veering into Mary Kay Letourneau territory. But a decade is a long time.
Their respective trajectories are both impossible to predict and completely believable. Eric is a wonderful character—a guy drafted by virtue of his good looks, laid-back demeanor and athleticism into sophomoric bro cliques, whose path to self-knowledge is tortuous. A veteran performer at 25, Robinson does justice to his developing identity, imparting multiple age-appropriate layers of depth: charm, intelligence, naivety, contradictory flashes of arrogance and fragility.
The stories that result could be painfully didactic—which is just one good reason to simply stop revisiting the worn-out trope. Those tempted to dismiss such a choice as political correctness might ask themselves why the student-teacher sex narrative is so prevalent in the first place. at letters time. By Judy Berman. Nick Robinson in 'A Teacher'. Kate Mara in 'A Teacher'. Subscribe to More to the Story to get the context you need for the pop culture you love.
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