On Nov. 10, Hulu released “A Teacher,” a limited series adaptation of a 2013 film of the same title. As an avid Hulu user, I received ads for this show for months, so I knew I had to tune in for at least one episode. My first impression was that it would be a cliche and cheesy series about a teacher-student relationship, but after binging the first three episodes in one night, I know I’ll be returning every Tuesday for more. There are ten episodes in total, running for half an hour each, but only the first three episodes were released on the 10th. The following seven episodes will be released one-by-one each Tuesday.
The series follows Eric Walter (Nick Robinson) and Claire Wilson (Kate Mara) as they engage in a risque teacher-student relationship. Claire Wilson is a new teacher at Westbrook High School, located near Austin, Texas, and Eric Walter is a senior struggling with college applications and financial burdens. Ms. Wilson is Eric’s AP English teacher and she begins tutoring him for the SAT after they bump into each other at the diner Eric works at. Our main characters discover that they’ve both faced their fair share of troubles. Claire is in her early thirties and married to a husband who is not always present due to his job. They’re trying to have a baby but have been consistently unsuccessful. Eric comes from a single-parent household with two young siblings and works at the diner to help with the bills. He knows he needs to do well on the SAT in order to help his family and get into his dream school, the University of Texas at Austin.
Claire and Eric become more friendly as the series progresses. She even takes him to visit UT Austin and attend a frat party together. After this trip in the third episode, Eric admits that he’s attracted to her. Claire recognizes how wrong and unlawful their relationship would be and rejects him — the first time at least. A few days after Eric confesses his feelings for her, Claire succumbs to her desires.
The subject matter of this series is not light. It features predatory behavior that is unacceptable on multiple levels as Claire takes advantage of Eric’s naivety and vulnerability. Although the subject matter is unethical and distasteful, the series itself is a triumph. It provides a nuance in how their unusual relationship was able to develop and all the warning signs that should’ve been accounted for. The soundtrack, videography and production are stellar as well and set up each episode for success. Each scene is carefully crafted and although the actors that are supposed to portray high school characters look like they’re in their thirties, the show successfully replicates a high school experience with parties, school dances and hallway banter.
Nick Robinson is at his peak, with his acting talent properly showcased in “A Teacher,” as opposed to the rom-coms he usually stars in. Kate Mara’s portrayal of Claire Wilson makes it hard for the viewer to separate the actress from the character. The supporting characters are also well-portrayed and realistic. There is nuance to this series and it is well thought-out, written and produced. “A Teacher” is easily bingeable, even for people like me who have short attention spans, as each episode is only half an hour long. However, it’s upsetting that viewers must wait one week for another episode. Another criticism is that this series completely lacks diversity. They did not include a single person of color, even as a supporting character. To me, that is disappointing and reflects Hollywood’s need for more representation as a whole.
A big fear I had with “A Teacher” was that it would romanticize predatory behavior. However, the show frames Claire and Nick’s teacher-student relationship in a way that depicts the danger of it. Adding on, there are warnings and resources for those going through similar experiences in the opening and ending credits. With that being said, “A Teacher” is the juicy drama you can binge this break.