I have a theory that many successful TV and film writers were nerds in high school, and that writing about high school (and coming up with unflattering depictions of their former tormentors) is their revenge. I think some of that is what’s behind former Office scribe Caroline Williams’ Miss Guided, which premiered on ABC last night. The sitcom has only one joke, and it’s one we’ve heard often, but it’s still a good one: that no matter how old we are, we never really graduate from high school. Proving this unfortunate maxim is Becky Freeley, former high school nerd who returns as a guidance counselor to her alma mater. She’s still a nerd, she’s still pining after a dim hunk (auto-shop-teacher-turned-Spanish-instructor Tim O’Malley), and still seething over her old nemesis, homecoming queen Lisa Germain (who’s also a new teacher at the school).
Now, I love Judy Greer; she’s a terrific comic actress who’s deserved her own vehicle for far too long; I just don’t think this is it. (Read the magazine’s quick-hit review of Miss Guided.) I’m not sure how much fun it’s going to be to watch her hapless, older-but-not-really-wiser nerd get humiliated in gag after gag, week after week. Still, she won me over during a scene where she lurks in the bushes outside the homecoming dance, watching Tim and Lisa chat inside, and singing along to the Pussycat Dolls “Don’t Cha.” She gets able comic support from SNL/30 Rock alum Chris Parnell as a martinet vice principal; she has nice chemistry with Kristoffer Polaha (best known for starring as JFK Jr. in that made-for-TV biopic a few years ago) as Tim, and even Baywatch babe Brooke Burns provides more layers than mere vampiness to Lisa. I’m just not sure if all that will be enough to sustain the show beyond its well-worn premise. In fact, I’m not sure who this show is for: I don’t think a lot of adults really want to relive their high school embarrassments, but a lot of the humor will sail over kids’ heads.
Raise your hands, students: who watched this show last night? What did you think of it? Will you stick with it?