As a former teacher myself, I watch TV Land’s Teachers—which returns for the back half of its second season tonight—through my fingers. Was I ever this embarassing? I ask myself, before the realization arrives: No one is this embarassing. Written by and starring The Katydids, a comedy troupe in which, yes, the members’ names are all a variation of “Katy,” Teachers follows six twisted elementary school teachers whose most well-honed skill is for self-inflicted humiliation.
To mark the return of the bawdily funny, frequently merciless and almost always cringeworthy comedy, Paste asked The Katydids to complete a school-themed questionnaire, which touches on their wide array of characters as well as their own experiences. Read their lightly edited answers below. Pencils up!
1. Use three adjectives to describe your character.
Kathryn Renée Thomas (Mrs. Adler): Angsty, cynical, funereal.
Katie O’Brien (Ms. Bennigan): Naive, quirky, awkward.
Kate Lambert (Ms. Watson): Organized, romantic, perfectionist.
Caitlin Barlow (Ms. Cannon): Optimistic, gullible, cheery.
Cate Freedman (Ms. Feldman): Convivial, unbothered, extraordinary.
Katy Colloton (Ms. Snap): Superficial, self-involved, totally trill.
2. What’s your favorite (out-of-context) line your character delivers in Season 2b?
Thomas: “Students’ rights don’t mean diddly when there’s a poop terrorist.”
O’Brien: “She might be a demon trying to trick us. That’s how my Uncle Pat got lured into a bathroom stall by another man at O’Hare.”
Lambert: ”...the entire time he was giving me my pelvic exam, he went on about how time was running out for me if I wanted to have a child. He actually said ‘tick-tock’ as he swiped my cervix.”
Barlow: “And by the way, a woman can have an orgasm without a man. How do we know? Because we’ve all done it with our fingers.”
Freedman: “Go ahead, Nazi.”
Colloton: “The only party I know about is Party of Five. And that wasn’t always a party. They were orphans.”
3. What subject would you least like to teach? Why?
Thomas: I couldn’t teach P.E., not because I’m unathletic, but because jocks still immediately make me feel insecure and self-conscious.
O’Brien: Math. I’m literally worthless when it comes to math. If someone told me my life depended on solving a math problem, I’d be like, “Then I guess I’m dead.”
Lambert: I would not want to teach math. It was always my least favorite subject throughout school. The one exception was statistics, but I can’t pronounce it, so there goes that.
Barlow: I hate to sound like a stereotypical female but I wouldn’t want to teach any math past third grade because I honestly wouldn’t be able to do it. My mind has never been able to grasp most math.
Freedman: The subject I would least like to teach would have to be geometry. Freshman year honors algebra was a fun breeze, but when sophomore year geometry reared its ugly head, I had to copy every homework assignment because I wasn’t passing any tests and I sure as hell wasn’t about to go through sophomore year again. Repeating the 10th grade would mean that I’d have to experience the boy I was in love with telling me, “the whole school knows I’m gay” AGAIN.
Colloton: Gym. I try to move my body as little as possible during the day.
4. What was your best subject in school?
Thomas: I was actually really good at math and science, but somehow ended up a pursuing English and the arts. I’d probably be a Nobel Prize winner in astronomy if society encouraged women to pursue math and science, right?
O’Brien: English and history. Woot! Woot!
Lambert: My favorite subject was English. I always loved to read and write, so anytime I got to do that—especially creative writing—I really enjoyed it.
Barlow: And again being a total stereotype, English was my best subject. I liked challenging my teachers on their interpretations of poetry.
Freedman: My best subjects were reading and writing. Although I’d like to give an honorable mention to Latin class, because I can still do the entire Pledge of Allegiance and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” in Latin while taking a knee. If I live to see time travel, this might really come in handy.
Colloton: Math. I enjoy problems that only have one answer.
5. What does your character pack for lunch?
Thomas: She eats like a child: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, and cigarettes.
O’Brien: Milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a bruised banana.
Lambert: My character packs everything in individual Tupperware containers and it looks like Martha Stewart made it. She’s the kind of person who would bring a charcuterie plate in for lunch.
Barlow: Tofu kielbasa.
Freedman: A typical Ms. Feldman lunch would be picked up from 7-11 the morning it is to be eaten and would usually consist of a Big Gulp, a bag of M&M’s and a Buffalo Chicken Roller to be reheated in the teacher’s lounge hours later.
6. The midseason premiere is set at a school dance. If you were organizing a dance, what would be the theme, and what song would be your number one request?
Thomas: I would throw a Labyrinth-themed party and play “Magic Dance” on repeat the entire night. I’m very cool.
O’Brien: I think my theme would be, “Our Current Political Climate” and my song request would be, “Burning Down the House.”
Lambert: I think you can’t go wrong with a 1980s theme. I’d show up in a Hypercolor T-shirt and request Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
Barlow: I’d want to do a Seinfeld-themed dance and have everyone dance the “Elaine” to the opening credits song.
Freedman: If I was organizing a dance, it would be Akira Kurosawa-themed, with the number one request being “XPlicit” as performed by French Montana, featuring Miguel.
Colloton: My theme would be “Murder Mystery” and I would play Taylor Swift’s “Look What you Made Me Do” on repeat.
7. So much of the humor of Teachers involves the Fillmore faculty behaving badly. What’s the craziest, funniest, most embarrassing, or most surprising thing you remember one of your teachers doing in school?
Thomas: I had this wacky World History teacher in high school, who also was in charge of running tech in the auditorium for shows. We’ll call him “Mr. N”. During the prom fashion show my senior year, a girl walked off the edge of the stage and dropped into the orchestra pit. The next day, Mr. N brought the video of the prom fashion show in and played the clip of that moment for our class backwards and forwards, in slow motion and in fast forward, over and over again. It was so inappropriate and magical.
O’Brien: In grade school, I had a teacher who was struck by lightning… twice. ON TWO DIFFERENT OCCASIONS THIS MAN WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.
Lambert: I remember when I was in elementary school, we had a music teacher who treated it like Broadway. We had a holiday assembly and halfway through the song, in front of all the parents and other students, she shouted, “STOP. STOP.” I guess it sounded pretty bad and she made us start over. I took it so seriously that I thought it was humiliating. Nine-year-old me was like, “This is so unprofessional. How could she stop us mid-show?”
Barlow: My third grade teacher wore see through blouses and would talk to us about how much she hated her ex husband. It was really awkward.
Freedman: One time at a retreat for city kids in the woods, my 5th grade teacher belted “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks. It made me cry, but not in a good way.
Teachers returns tonight at 10 p.m. on TV Land.
Matt Brennan is the TV editor of Paste Magazine. He tweets about what he’s watching @thefilmgoer.