Alison Brie-produced show “Teachers” airs Jan. 13, but before it went to TVLand, it was a product of the Katydids, a six-member improv group that first introduced the concept as a web series. The cable network version of the comedy is naturally slicker, but the hilarity of juxtaposition — self-involved, foul-mouthed, hard-partying 20-and-30-somethings in charge of shaping the minds of a mid-western elementary school — still rings true.
We chatted with Kate Lambert, 34, and Katy Colloton, 33 — who both incidentally have childhood area ties; Colloton attended Longmeadow’s Blueberry Hill Elementary and Lambert’s family is from the Cape — ahead of the series premiere.
Did you interview any real teachers in preparation for the series?
Lambert: We have a teacher in the group. Catherine Barlow was a teacher of fourth grade, so she’s a source of many stories.
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The series is pretty rowdy. What do you think teachers will think of the show?
Colloton: We hope they watch the show so they can see us doing all the things they wish they could say and do. There’s something unique about being a teacher, because when you’re a 20-something at work, you expect that you're going to mess up and make mistakes all the time, but when you’re a teacher, a parent or a school board isn’t going to be lenient or understanding. We hope they can relate, and say “That’s my co-worker," or “That’s the nightmare parent that I hate."
And elementary school students these days are so different than they were when we were growing up.
Colloton: Technology is so different than when we went to school. We explored that on the show in an episode about a teacher sending a Tweet, and the idea that your privacy is universal to everyone right now. Like if you put something on Facebook you could definitely get in trouble. But the number one difference to us is that kids — even the kids on on set — have an iPad or an iPhone all the time, and they’re so tuned in. I felt like a grandma.
Obviously you must have had a lot of child actors on set. What was that like?
Colloton: We were lucky we had really good kids who were really professional — sometimes more than us. Some have been working for six or seven years so they have more credits than me.
Lambert: They’ve already got their SAG cards.
What would you teach if you were actual teachers?
Lambert: Since elementary school is a little bit of everything, I would probably go the art or drama route.
Colloton: Like my character, I’m really bad with discipline so I’d just be a librarian, or someone not in charge of a whole classroom. I always thought that was a pretty great job at school, like, if anyone’s a problem, you could just watch them shuffle away in 45 minutes.
"Teachers" premieres on TVLand on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 11 p.m..