When I was a senior in high school, I conceived an idea for a TV series. My main influences were Desperate Housewives and a project that I did in my Radio/TV II class. The project happened in the fall of my senior; the school principal suggested to our teacher that our class do a soap opera. We began work on that; we created our own characters and story lines and filmed some of them; our teacher emphasize that in developing our characters. One involved a sweet, but naive girl who becomes pregnant. Another involved the school principal being blackmailed over an affair she had with some students’ father. Yet another was about a boy who wants to escape his family’s horrible reputation. While the project was not very good (even with the expectations placed upon us by our teacher and due to no fault of mine, at least), I was still inspired to hopefully do something better one day.
As a result of watching Desperate Housewives and thinking about our soap opera (if you hate real soap operas, you would prefer them to our attempt of one), I thought about a comedy-drama that was set in a school and focused on the teachers. The teachers all had their own issues, many of which are not obvious to the students. Over the past four-and-a-half years, I have imagined in my head various story lines (some of them are in my Master Idea List ). Finally last year I began writing character profiles and episode story lines, and now, I will share the character profiles with all of you.
Clarice teaches psychology and sociology at South Side of Chicago High School (SSCHS) which is also where she attended high school. She is a 25-year-old, tall, slender, voluptuous, and sexy black woman. She is object of sex appeal of most of the males in the school, students and staff alike. Clarice is also charming, vain, mean-spirited, ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and very intelligent. She is good at manipulating people with her looks, her brains, and occasionally even both at the same time, but her skills are not foolproof; She rules the classroom, the PTA, and all of the extra-curricular activities she sponsors with an iron fist. Clarice displays symptoms of various personality disorders such as sadistic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder, though she as never been diagnosed with any of them; at times she takes pleasure in making lives miserable, and other times she does bad things for her own purposes without any regard as to how her action affect others. She is often scheming to sabotage or enact revenge against colleagues, students, and parents. For example, Clarice is livid when a student sexually harasses her and exposes himself to her; she is even more outraged when the boy’s parents stand by his denials. After failing to get his peers to rat on him, she decides to have another talk to his parents; when that proves fruitless, Clarice plots to stage a fake child molestation cover-up scandal, implicating the boy’s father, though when her conspiracy is discovered she doesn’t go through with it. However, occasionally Clarice will feel remorse when she finds that one of her schemes caused more damage than she intended or hurt people that she did not target, though often times she is remorseless when it comes to the collateral damage her schemes cause.
Her best friend is Jeannette Chan, one of the school’s guidance counselors. Her other friend is history teacher Todd O’Guinness Clarice generally only shows her nice side to Todd and Jeannette and is protective towards them; if someone tries to make their lives miserable she will return the favor tenfold. Clarice is often mean to students and other teachers especially Michelle Slojinski, a shy substitute teacher, but over time, Clarice and Michelle learn to get along and even help one another. Clarice’s love interest is Edmund Sanders. When they were in high school, Clarice was the alpha female, while Edmund was the nerd/geek type. Edmund had a crush on Clarice, but Clarice did not reciprocate, and in fact was mean to him. Now that Edmund has recently began work as a math teacher at SSCHS, she has crush on him, and they begin what turns out to be a tenuous on-again, off-again relationship; she also tries to be a good girlfriend to him and will also not hesitate to hurt those who hurt him when she is aware of him being hurt. Clarice has a rivalry of sorts with Lena Johnson, the principal of SSCHS. Clarice was one of Lena’s students in high school; they generally never got along, and their rivalry continued when Clarice returned to SSCHS to teach. Clarice is often trying to in some way sabotage Lena. Clarice has a neutral relationship with Lena’s husband Keith who teaches English at SSCHS.
Lena Johnson is the principal of SSCHS and also an alumnus of the school. She is of medium height, early 40s black, and attractive, though not the type of woman who could be seen as oozing sex appeal.
Lena has a rather dark back story and has lots of secrets. In high school she was in an abusive relationship, she became pregnant, and although she wanted to keep her baby, her boyfriend forced her to sell him. Since then Lena has been haunted and wondered what happened to her son; Later she would marry Keith Johnson a fellow English major at college. They have four kids together whom they send to a private school.
Lena also has another event from her past that haunted her. Her best friend Judith Anderson was murdered at the school. Judith was also in an abusive relationship, but seemed to to be able to get away from her boyfriend and was about to graduate from SSCHS at the top of her class and attend Harvard. Then Judith disappeared the day before graduation. Lena immediately knew that Judith’s boyfriend was responsible, but she couldn’t prove it. Years later it would be discovered that Judith’s boyfriend pushed her down the stairs in view of a teacher. He then threatened to kill the teacher if she wouldn’t help him hide the body. They buried Judith on the school grounds. The teacher had her hands tied because she couldn’t go to the police without implicating herself in covering up a murder. Those events cause a huge emotional toll on Lena.
Lena has generally good relationships with the staff at SSCHS, but the one person she hates is Clarice Johnson, a former student of her’s and a current psychology and sociology teacher. When Clarice was Lena’s student, they generally never got along because of Clarice’s personality as a mean girl. In addition, she also made attempts in vain to in some way get Clarice in trouble, which failed.
Personality-wise, Lena is generally kind but firm. She has a strong sense of wanting to be in control. She trys to be a leader, but struggles with trying to fix every problem in the school that comes her way. As a wife and mother Lena has a habit of letting work get in the way her family life, unlike Keith who is able to have time for work and family. This leads to a strain in the marriage where they both become unfaithful to one another.
Jeannette is a guidance counselor at SSCHS. She has a genuine desire to help people with their personal problems. She is outwardly engaging and empathetic towards most of the people she meets. Above all, she tries to help people in whatever shape or form she can, but struggles with people who don’t want her help and whom she can’t help. Occasionally, she tries to help people in ways that are unethical or even illegal. For example, she suspects a student is a victim of child abuse; she reports it to the DCFS as is her legal duty, but no charges are filed due to lack of evidence. She thinks something is up so she investigates the DCFS and discovers that the student;s parents paid the social worker off. However, she also has no proof of the bribery so she attempts to fight fire with fire and bribe the social worker.
Todd is a history teacher at SSCHS. Having been working there for five years, he has established a style of teaching that he deems effective for both himself and his students. He is a strict teacher and has high expectations for his students. He starts every school year and school term requiring his students to hit the ground running. Todd gives homework every night, gives difficult projects, and demands that students pay very close attention to detail. He refuses to accept late assignments and dislikes tardiness to the point that he lobbied the school punish students who are tardy with detention the first time they are late. Despite his strict nature, Todd is sometimes viewed “firm, but fair” teacher, but he regularly has conflicts with parents who take issue with his expectations, claiming that they are too strict and fail to take into account extenuating circumstances. Todd all in all wants to be a good teacher and he very much wants his students to learn and understand history so that they can know and comprehend their presents and their futures and find where in the world they belong.
Todd has a rocky relationships with his family. First, his father never approved of him becoming a teacher, and so he largely financed his college education without his parents’ help. Second, Todd is viewed by his parents as being the least favorite child in his family. Todd’s parents always treated his younger brother Liam better than him, lavishing all sorts of praise and attention on him. Whenever Todd and Liam had a conflict his parents took Liam’s side. Very often, Todd would do something and get his parents’ disapproval, but Liam would do the same thing and receive his parents’ undying support. Case in point: Liam is now in college studying to be a teacher and his parents sacrificed very much to ensure that Liam can pursue his career goals. Because of the favoritism, Liam has received, Todd works hard to make sure that his students are treated based on their own hard work and merits and not because he happens like one student better than all the others.
One of his students, Rose, however doesn’t want to follow his rules. So she comes up with a plan. Rose disguises herself as an adult and goes to bar where Todd frequents. She strikes up a conversation, and they end up sleeping together. Rose then reveals her true identity and blackmails him, threatening to reveal their sexual encounter to the police unless she does exactly what she wants: She wants to pass the class with an A, be marked as on time even if she’s tardy, and be marked as present when she ditches class. The demands become too much for Todd to deal with, so he plants knives in her locker. The school has a zero tolerance policy for weapons, so Rose gets expelled. Rose vows revenge. Years later, the statute of limitations has expired and preventing Todd from being prosecuted. Rose conspires with her younger sister Daisy who is now one of Todd’s students; they drug Todd so that Daisy can rape him. Daisy then accuses Todd of raping her. Todd’s friends must then find a clever way to get Rose and Daisy to admit to their conspiracy.
Edmund is a new math teacher having graduated from college earlier that year. He’s excited about returning to the school he graduated from and being able to give back. Edmund wants to teach, but he also wants to be a cool teacher and make his students comfortable enough to come to him whenever they need help. Due to being a new teacher and rather inexperienced, Edmund deals with being somewhat awkward towards his students, and struggles to find his place in the school as a competent teacher. He has a long way to go.
Edmund is reunited with Clarice his former high school crush, and the eventually begin a romance. He initially thinks that she has moved on from being the mean popular girls she once was. For quite some time, Edmund is blind to how Clarice mistreats and manipulates those around her; he eventually gets wise to her behavior and after much consideration ends their relationship; he and Clarice would reconcile and break up several times more in the future.
Keith is an English teacher at SSCHS and is Lena’s husband. They first met in college, where they were both English majors. They fell for each other instantly, married upon graduation, and had four children. Keith is active as a mentor to his students and even towards other less-experienced teachers such as Edmund and Todd. However, Keith’s other relationships are less successful. Often, Lena and Keith lack time for each other. Eventually, their lack of time for one another led to them both being unfaithful, and their marital strife led them to become out of touch with their children’s lives.
Michelle is a shy substitute teacher. She has had a rather traumatic upbringing. The daughter of Polish immigrants, Michelle, was at first teased because she didn’t learn English until she began school, so for a while she couldn’t communicate with her classmates. This led to her being isolated and ostracized from her peers and teased until she learned English. Then she was teased for various reasons such as being shy, not having the most stylish clothes, and other things. In high school, Michelle suffered depression due to being bullied and attempted suicide three times.
Now, Michelle is more mentally healthy, but still not ideal. She still lives with her parents, as they worry about her ability to live alone. In her work life, Michelle feels like she doesn’t belong. She feels that as a substitute teacher, she is disrespected by other teachers who view her as being less important than regular teachers. She is also often disrespected by students who mistreat her because she isn’t their regular teacher. Eventually, she befriends Jeannette who teaches her to be more assertive and self-confident.