Head of the Class Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Three teenagers walk down the hall of their high school, with one complaining that she stayed up all night doing her coding homework.
Alicia Adams (Isabella Gomez) wants to be a bit of a different teacher from the last one, who abruptly quit to do anything but teaching. She moves the class to the library and guesses everyone’s name by “vibe” (she has a cheat sheet in front of her). It’s her first teaching job, so she’s defining her “style” as she goes.
The kids in the class — Overconfident Luke Burrows (Gavin Lewis), Computer whiz Robyn Rook (Dior Goodjohn), Never-taking-chances Miles Mendelson (Adrian Matthew Escalona), affable Terrell Smith (Brandon Severs), and Model UN delegate Makayla Nguyen (Jolie Hoang Rappaport) — think they can just learn on autopilot, but Alicia has other ideas. She launches them into a debate on cancel culture, and she tells Terrell to talk about how he feels about it instead of just restating talking points.
But there’s another issue to discuss: Luke and Miles try to get into the coolest party of the semester; Miles makes his way in via a “momvite” because his mom is yoga buddies with the cool kid’s mom. he livestreams the party, and everyone — including Alicia, AV Club teacher Elliot Olsen (Jorge Diaz) and Principal Maris (Christa Miller) — tries to give him encouragement. But he gets in trouble with Luke when the cool kid prompts Miles to say his best friend is “a little thirsty”.
This new version of Head Of The Class is produced by Bill Lawrence (Ted Lasso) and the showrunners, Amy Pocha and Seth Cohen (Paradise PD, American Vandal). It spends a lot of the first episode introducing the viewers and the class to Alicia, with her goofy charm, her unconventional methods, and her story about flaming out at Google before becoming a teacher.
And if there’s anyone who could fill the shoes of Howard Hesseman and Billy Connolly in that role, Gomez is a good choice. Even though she’s younger than either of her predecessors, she proved during three-and-a-half seasons of One Day At A Time, she’s very capable of being that central character; here, her charm and physical comedy chops are both on display, and her scenes with Miller, a sitcom vet, are fun to watch.
The rest of the first episode feels less like the original show, that had distinct characters among the staff and the students, than a more generic high school sitcom. The students are all “GPA junkies,” as Alicia calls them, but they mostly seem to be cut from the same teenage cloth. Luke and Miles are the most unique, but Miles is distinctive mainly because of his look than anything else.
They’re not even in a gifted program, which is strange, but makes sense given how schools operate these days. They’re in some sort of generic debate class that acts as a weak substitute. When we see people from the honors program of the old series show up, like Darlene Merriman (Robin Givens), it’ll show audiences that having the distinctive character “types” for each student is what made the show so memorable.
There is a chance that the chemistry among the students can grow and they each grow into their roles, but right now the show is being carried on the capable shoulders of Gomez, and that may be enough to start with.