Glenn Howerton made a name for himself as the not-quite-lovable jerk, Dennis Reynolds, on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where his character achieved cultural notoriety for threatening to “frame bang” women, filming all of his sexual encounters without his partners’ consent, pretending to be a jihadist, leaving his enemies to burn alive in an apartment on Thanksgiving and a litany of other awful things I won’t list here.
Now, Howerton has come to wreak more network-television-appropriate havoc on A.P. Bio, a new half-hour comedy from SNL scribe, Mike O’Brien. Rest assured, Howerton’s character, Jack Griffin, is pretty much an NBC version of Reynolds. Instead of being an overeducated burnout who kind of begrudgingly owns a bar, however, Griffin is an overeducated philosophy former Harvard professor who, for reasons somewhat unclear, has not received tenure and is therefore teaching high school biology in his home town of Toledo. Like Reynolds, Griffin brings an air of douche-y superiority to the endeavor, unsparingly dickish and self-centered in his every interaction. (Unlike Reynolds, it would appear, given this is an NBC show set in a high school, that Griffin will ultimately be capable of experiencing empathy for a bullied loner.)
In the pilot, Griffin arrives at the school and survives a brush with the weak-willed principal (a welcome Patton Oswalt), before enlisting his students in a boneheaded scheme to catfish his rival, a philosophy professor who has a coveted position at Stanford. Despite its predictability, the pilot is mildly funny, and the show features a promising supporting cast, including a trio of three female teachers and Oswalt. (There’s also an admittedly hilarious bit involving a botched School of Rock-style rap.)
At its core, though, A.P. Bio feels a lot like “The Gang Teaches Bio,” minus the rest of the gang. So as a way of transitioning you from one Howerton prick to another, I've decided to recap the first episode (which aired last week and is streaming now) by highlighting nine of Howerton's most Dennis Reynolds-y moments.
1. Jack Griffin runs into the Whitlock High School sign and subsequently threatens a bus driver with a crowbar.
2. “Alright everybody, let’s go ahead and start to shut up, now,” he says, as he walked into the classroom wearing a cardigan, tailored sweatpants and a smarmy smile, which is basically the uniform for “Dennis Reynolds-style academic who feels everything in this shit town is beneath him.”
3. “My name is Jack Griffin, and I don’t want to be here," Jack Griffin tells his students, because what would give anyone that idea is beyond no one.
4. Griffin throws a half-eaten apple towards the trash; misses the trash; doesn't bother to pick up apple; proceeds to condescendingly hug Patton Oswalt, an actor who is routinely used for condescending hugs.
5. “I take it you’re enjoying it here?” A hospitable teacher asks Griffin in the teacher’s lounge. “God no,” he answers. “I’m teaching high school in Toledo.”
6. Griffin assigns his students to catfish his philosophy rival, and thereby destroy him? This is exactly the sort of ill-defined, roundabout scheme the gang on Always Sunny would hatch.
7. Griffin has a philosophy rival to destroy.
8. Griffin packs “duck confit” for lunch and labels it “duck confit.”
9. Griffin gets drunk and pisses on the hospital where his high school sweetheart works, after she refused to have sex with him; a cop asked him to stop; he asks the cop to pleasure him; the cop hurts his arm and throws him in jail; Griffin draws this diagram on the board in front of his students, by way of an explanation for his tardiness.