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Series Review: ‘A Teacher’ tackles dynamics of student-teacher affair

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“A Teacher,” which debuted Nov. 10, is available to watch on Hulu. (Illustration by Kyiesha Chavez)
By Kyiesha Chavez

In 2013, writer and director Hannah Fidell created an indie film about a lonely high school teacher who has an affair with a student. 

A Teacher” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that January and had a limited release in the U.S. later that year. The following year, it was announced that the film would be adapted for television by HBO. 

Fidell was set to write, executive produce and direct the series along with Danny Brocklehurst, the former showrunner for “Shameless.” 

Now seven years later, the new series has finally been released to the public through FX on Hulu.

With this new platform comes new adjustments to fit the times.

At the start of every episode, there’s a trigger warning about grooming. At the end, there is a website posted for resources if someone finds themself in an abusive situation.

The series stars Kate Mara and Nick Robinson, as well Ashley Zukerman, Shane Harper, Dylan Schmid, Adam David Thompson and Jana Peck.

The tagline of the show is that it explores “the complexities and consequences of a predatory relationship.”

The main plot is predictable for a show about this topic.

Claire Wilson (Mara) is an AP English teacher bored with her life and marriage, while her husband Matt (Zuckerman) wants to start a band with friends. Eric Walker (Robinson) is a 17-year-old, drunk on hormones and the adrenaline that comes with a “first love.” He sees his teacher and believes her to be “the one.”

The first five episodes depict the development of the relationship between Claire and Eric from their meeting at a diner to a weekend getaway for his 18th birthday.

While the remaining episodes have not been released yet, they consist of time jumps in their relationship depicting what’s happened after the media and the public has found out about them.

“A Teacher” doesn’t dodge the contrasting ways that Claire and Eric act in their social circles. 

Eric’s friends and fellow seniors — between the ages of 17 and 19 — often date younger classmates and live by the idea that “age is just a number.” But Claire, her friends and coworkers are well aware that a relationship with a minor is illegal. 

The toxic masculinity present in Eric’s life convinces him that he’s the one in charge once he starts sleeping with Claire.

“I’m the motherf—— man,” Eric often tells himself while looking in the mirror once he’s home.

Mara and Robinson had strong performances throughout the show, making it bearable enough to continue watching until it ends in December. 

While I probably would not watch this a second time around, it has certainly exceeded my expectations with how they went about this topic.

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