Because I review a whole tv series rather than individual episodes, there is a chance of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the whole series yet, stop reading now!
I’m now going to be a complete hypocrite. I’ve reviewed two sitcoms recently (Trollied and Gates) and highlighted, as positives, how closely they try to show a mundane but recognisable environment and find the humour in that.
Bad Education does something similar, but then veers off in its own direction. The sitcom is set in a secondary school, following the lives of the teachers and students at the school. This has the makings for a good “situation” as its something everyone has been through, there is a range of different characters and plenty of scope for funny incidents and episodes.
Except Bad Education doesn’t keep the realism that makes Trollied or a more famous sitcom like The Office, effective. It has the setting but pretty much makes up its own rules. We only ever follow one class of the school and the main character, played by Jack Whitehall, only seems to teach this one class.
The school goes on school trips that would never be allowed, has visitors that would never pass security and teachers working at the school that would never get jobs. Luckily, this all works. You allow yourself to suspend your disbelief because the situations are interesting enough for you to want to see what is happening next.
It also helps that the comedy has a great cast. Jack Whitehall is the main teacher and does a great job of being the “everyman” as well as having his own insecure, embarrassing faults. Michelle Gomez plays a similar character to the one she did in Green Wing but that isn’t necessarily a negative. The real surprise is Matt Horne as the inept Headteacher. He is playing a character who thinks he’s “down-with-the-kids” and tries desperately to be cool and liked. If someone described that character to me, Matt Horne wouldn’t be my first choice but to his credit, he throws himself at the role and it works.
As usual with these kind of programs, the kids really steal the show. Bad Education has a good range of different characters within the main class. From the bullied, teacher’s pet to the WAG wannabe, each character is unique and brings something different to some of the best and simplest scenes.
The situations the characters find themselves in are very unique and can be hilarious. From very poorly taught sex education to getting lost in the woods after hitting an escaped pig with the school-coach, they are extreme but also very funny.
It’s the situations that keep the program funny rather than individual lines of dialogue or specific characters. The comedy relies on that very common source of humour – cringe and embarrassment. It is well written in places and there are some very good, single exchanges but its the episode theme as a whole and the large, embarrassing crisis at the climax of the show, that will entertain the most.
Overall, a very good show with lots of potential. It’s not the cleverest of comedies but does have some great ideas and each show will find a way to entertain. Jack Whitehall and Matt Horne lead a very strong cast, with the kids taking the reigns very ably. If you can look past the fact that no school would ever run like this, there is a very good comedy underneath.
Best Episode – Sex Education: It has the best lines of dialogue and reaches a very satisfying ending.
Best performance – Matt Horne as Fraser
Should there be another season? – There’s still life in the sitcom yet so a second season makes sense.
Season Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)