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In AP Bio, now first and only on Showmax, Glenn Howerton (Dennis from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) stars as Jack Griffin, a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who’s forced to return to Toledo, Ohio, and work as a high school Advanced Placement biology teacher.
As he comes crashing into Whitlock High School (literally), Jack bluntly informs his students that he will not be teaching any biology.
“Here’s the deal. I do not care about biology. We’re not going to do any biology in here. And to be perfectly clear, this won’t be one of those things where, over the course of the year, I secretly teach it to you. This also won’t be one of those things where I end up learning more from you than you do from me,” says Jack, skewering two of the traditional tropes of high school teacher stories before the credits have even rolled. “I know more than all of you combined so that doesn’t make any sense.”
Instead, he continues. “I’m going to spend the majority of my time mentally breaking my nemesis, with the ultimate goal of taking his job as the head of Stanford Philosophy, and then, I’m gonna have sex with as many women as I possibly can throughout the entire state of California. But, you don’t need to concern yourselves with that.”
While not all critics thought that was a politically correct set-up for a comedy in 2018, NBC has already renewed the show for a second season. Indiewire called AP Bio “Smart. Surprising. Delightful. Plays against expectation to earn that A… An ensemble comedy with exciting players in every part.” And AVClub wrote, “Glenn Howerton is hilarious” and called the comedy “brisk, funny, and reliably surprising.”
Emmy winner (and stand-up comic) Patton Oswalt (Parks and Recreation, Young Adult) co-stars. “I play the principal, who is very, very excited to have a Harvard professor there, but in order to keep said professor I really have to put up with a lot from him,” says Patton. “My relationship with him is the same as a road manager with a demanding rock star. He’s the guy who’s bringing in the prestige and money so I have to put up with his insane demands.”
The half-hour comedy is created by five-time Emmy nominee Mike O’Brien (Saturday Night Live), who also executive produces with Emmy-winning SNL alumni Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels and Mike Schoemaker, among others.
“It comes from the feeling of having grown up in the Midwest in a small town just outside of Toledo, and then working in New York for Saturday Night Live, and flying back and forth for the holidays, and feeling the contrast of those two worlds,” says Mike. “I thought it would be an interesting character trait to look down on where you come from, because you were fancy for a few years, but to have to be slowly won over by it again.”
“I’m always looking for a really original voice and a style of humour I’ve never seen before,” says Glenn, who’s also a co-creator and writer on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. “Mike really has that unique sensibility and that ability to write simple, believable yet really funny dialogue. His gift with dialogue is my favourite thing about the show.”
Patton agrees. “It’s amazing: every script is just joke-packed.” (Although Mike says a lot of the best lines came from late additions from Patton himself. “He’s hilarious as a stand-up comedian, so sometimes I tap him for an extra joke or a line,” says Mike. “He’s a really fast writer so he can think up better lines on the fly most of the time than I can.”)
The comedy-all-star directing lineup include Emmy winner Ryan Case (Modern Family) and Emmy nominees Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia), Osmany Rodriguez (The Last Man On Earth), and Daniel Gray Longino (Who Is America?), not to mention BAFTA nominees Julie Anne Robinson (Orange is the New Black) and Tristram Shapeero (Peep Show), and Sundance winner Lynn Shelton (Glow).
“Praise is due to Oz Rodriguez, director of the pilot and several early episodes, for establishing an aesthetic that is instantly distinctive,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s a highly stylised drabness typified by accentuating certain colours like teal and orange at the expense of primary colours… Admirable in a world in which so few comedies take visual risks.”
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