Review: Those Who Can’t 1×1-1×2 (US: TruTV)

Make comedy programmes?

In the US: Thursdays, 10.30/9.30c, TruTV

TruTV. It wasn’t so long ago when you were just CourtTV, but then you decided to start focusing on reality TV, and TruTV was born. That seemed reasonable. Then you decided to have a go at short-form comedy programmes, but at least they were more ‘prank shows’ than sitcoms. But now you’re having a go at long-form comedy. So what’s Tru now, TruTV?

Like TV Land, which is trying to bust out of its previous demographic, too, TruTV has decided to spearhead its edgy new style by getting a troop of improv comedy performers to come up with a sitcom about teachers. But while TV Land handed Teachers over to a group of female performers working with small children, TruTV decided that a group of male performers pretending to be high school teachers would be the best option for Those Who Can’t. Looking at the differences is instructive. Or maybe it isn’t. But let’s look at them.

While Teachers was basically about a bunch of female teachers who brought their own personal issues to school, resulting in incompetent teaching, Those Who Can’t is about a bunch of guys who never grew up into men and so aren’t very good at teaching nearly-men. Indeed, they largely get bullied by them or each other.

And that’s pretty much all the jokes: nerdy men trying to out-alpha each other while being out-alphaed by all the kids they teach. That and lots of jokes about dicks. And balls. And dicks and balls.

There is the occasional gay joke, just to break up the monotony. And one about the Spanish teacher teaching Castillian Spanish rather than Latin American Spanish – gosh, those lisped c’s are just so amusing, aren’t they? But that’s it for variety.

Despite only 42% of US high school teachers being male, the entire faculty appears to consist of men, from the principal (Ground Floor‘s Rory Scovel) downwards. The sole exception is the librarian (Maria Thayer), who’s there for the guys to hit on and be rebuffed, when she’s not acting like ‘one of the boys’ and making jokes about dicks… and balls… and dicks and balls, of course.

But that’s it. Pretty much everything about Those Who Can’t is predictable and the show is bereft of any hint of reality. Even when the mean kids turn up at a teacher’s house and YouTube themselves paintballing him, nothing happens, so naturally the teachers have to then go off and plant heroin in the lead kid’s locker to get him expelled. Sounds fun? Don’t worry – it isn’t.

Those who can’t? Make comedy show for TruTV, it turns out.