A comedy-drama series created by David E. Kelley
and airing on FOX
, Boston Public
basically told the story of the Teen Drama
from the point of view of the teachers. It took place in Winslow High, a public high school in Boston, hence the show's title. Boston Public
was basically Degrassi In America!
, except the teachers are the troubled ones.
The show aired from October 2000 to January 2004 for a total of 81 episodes in four seasons.
This series provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Meredith Peters (AKA The Hook Lady) beat her son Jeremy and locked him in the basement as punishment.
- Adults Are Useless: Both played straight and inverted. The faculty does generally make attempts to help; they're just not always effective or successful. But parents? Forget it. They are always portrayed as either useless, pretentious, or overprotective of their kids, setting hypocritical double standards for children and teachers, and going for Frivolous Lawsuits about twice per episode. In most cases, this undermined every effort made by the teachers to help the kids, successful or not.
- Harvey has it Played for Laughs as part of his character; he's completely clueless about what's going around and how to react.
- Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: Harry Senate was often on the receiving end of these kinds of speeches.
- Artistic License – Law: The series runs on this, with Frivolous Lawsuits left and right, using loopholes as standard procedure, and judges officially claiming in their verdict they treat the case as fully personal.
- Bad Boss: Superintendent Marsha Shinn in the first season. She seemed more interested in getting Steven fired for both his own actions (specifically slamming a bully against a locker in defense of another student) and the unusual antics of his faculty than backing him up. There is a reason she has the nickname "The Dragon Lady."
- Badass Teacher: Steven Harper (despite being the principal), Scott Guber (although he's the vice principal), Harry Senate, Marla Hendricks, and Danny Hanson all qualify.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Principal Steven Harper is bald and black.
- Benevolent Boss: Steven, most of the time.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Guber, Danny, and Charlie Bixby.
- Later Installment Weirdness: The series started off featuring things that regularly happen in inner city high schools. Later seasons had really weird things happen, like a student getting electrocuted and thinking he's Jesus.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The faculty and the students are constantly growing in numbers, while some of them quit or graduate. It's even impossible to point out the main character and if it's the school itself.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: For the first few seasons, Guber can't catch a break with the ladies. First, he dates a woman who turns out to be a hooker (hired by his brother, no less; he's not very happy about that), then hooks up with Meredith Peters, a psychopathic Abusive Parent with a hook for a hand. Not to mention hopelessly pining for Lauren and later Marilyn. And what's amazing is that, being Jewish by his own admission, Scott always falls for non-Jewish women. And in Season 4, he ends up with an ex-porn star. ("At least she's a Democrat," he tells Steven.)
- Loophole Abuse: Sheryl Holt's favorite way of saving her ass, her website, and its content. After a while, Guber got really sick of dealing with her, so he turned the tables and used a simple loophole of his own—since every time he suspended Sheryl and her father would send a lawyer, Guber simply did the math and realized how costly it will be in the long run if he keeps on suspending her every single day and then force the lawyer to wait for him for a few hours.
- Luke, You Are My Father: Harvey finds out in Season 2 that he has an African-American son, grandson, and great-grandchildren.
- Mean Boss: Guber, though he's also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Mood Whiplash: It's not uncommon to start or end an episode with someone dying and then go through some wacky antics by Harvey or Harry's snarking. Or make the episode light and funny to then do something terrible.
- Morton's Fork: Invoked but ultimately subverted in a Season 1 episode. A linebacker for the school football team is seemingly gay and expects to share the same accommodations, including shower facilities, as the other players. The teachers discuss the dilemma they face: if they deny his request, he will sue for anti-gay discrimination; if they grant it, the other players could sue for sexual harassment. It turns out to be a false dilemma, as the player isn't even gay.
- N-Word Privileges:
- Harvey once used the term "African-American Black-Colored Negroes." No one was particularly amused.
- In a Season 2 episode, Danny leads a class discussion about the n-word and receives lots of flack for it from Marla and Steven, the latter of whom actually ends up taking over the discussion after Danny suggests he do so.
- Naïve Newcomer: Kimberly Woods in the third season.
- Napoleon Delusion: In the fourth season, a student gets electrocuted and believes he's Jesus.
- No Medication for Me: Marla doesn't want to take her meds because she "can't feel anything" under them. Just for the record, she's mentally unstable and left her class with a suicide note on the board.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat:
- Superintendent Shinn in Season 1.
- Dave Fields in Season 3.
- Only Sane Man: Steven and Guber.
- Open Secret: Milton and Lisa's romance in Season 1. They keep on denying any relationship between them.
- Parents as People: Most often subverted and hit with maximum force. Parents are useless. Or abusive. Or both. You can count "good" parents on your fingers for all four seasons.
- Pet the Dog: Guber, several times.
- The Place: The show's called Boston Public.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Meredith 'The Hook Lady' Peters in Season 2, Brooke Harper in Season 3.
- Psychologist Teacher: Bob "Big Boy" Lick. Students either ridicule or openly hate him.
- Ronnie becomes one after Lick leaves.
- Put on a Bus: Milton Buttle, Kevin Riley, Lauren, Louisa, Harry, Kimberly Woods, Brooke.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The resolution of firing Kevin Riley in Season 1. Not only did the case itself create a lot of bad air, strain all the relations between the faculty and the years-long friendship between Steven and Scott, it also ended with six teachers quitting in protest and ridicule of Scott for his actions. The only "gain" was the court verdict that his decision was right. No matter what.
- Reaction Shot: When Marilyn and Mr. Lick are watching a tape showing a father molesting his daughter, they turn back with disgust. For obvious reasons, viewers are never shown what they've seen.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- After being fired, Kevin delivers one to Steven about his double standards, hypocrisy, authoritarian ways, and walking away from any serious problems. Even if he's doing it out of anger and spite, he is right.
- Marla also gives one to Danny in the Season 3 premiere when a student gives birth to a child (that she then leaves in a toilet) and Social Services takes the baby away from the student after Marla lies to the police about where she found the baby and Danny reveals the truth. She spitefully tells him he only did so just to get noticed and bolster his ego.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Steven.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Every school-related controversy of the late 90's/early 2000's was featured on the show. Threat of a school shooting? Check. Transgender prom queen? Check. Affirmative action-related race riot? Check...
- Rousing Speech: Harry Senate tends to give inversions of these, pointing out how much his students failed him and how they are on the best way to wasting their lives. It works most of the time to get them back on the right track.
- Sassy Black Woman:
- Loretta Devine does sass like nobody's business.
- Don't forget the bus driver, Mrs. Parks, who frequently stopped by and demanded that the staff "SMELL THAT SHOE!" and also never let them forget that she ONLY makes $19,000 a year!
- Save Our Students: But they just don't care or bother to be saved. Most of the kids are completely ignorant to anything. And their parents usually support that. The teachers themselves invoke how this got ridiculed by pop culture and turned into a sappy Dead Horse Trope, so kids don't want to be "saved."
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Guber talks all the time in a very elaborate and official way. Some of the students hardly follow what he's saying to them.
- School Play: A small charity play was organized in first season, as a sketch covering all recent events involving the faculty.
- Stalker with a Crush: Lauren dates one of these at first before realizing what a psycho he is. And get this? He used to be a student of hers.
- Kimberly Woods is victimized by one of these in the third season.
- Stern Teacher: Guber often gets called out for being this. As does Lauren in the second season.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Buttle begins a relationship with Lisa Greer, whom he believes is a college student but later learns is a student at Winslow High. He ultimately ends up getting fired for it.
- Team Dad: Steven is this to the rest of the faculty.
- Teen Genius: Riley in the third season.
- Teen Pregnancy: A few cases.
- Tonight Someone Dies: Second-string characters would get introduced for the express purpose of dying later on in the series, sometimes as soon as the same episodes they've been introduced.
- Two-Teacher School: While the faculty is quite big for a show set in the school, it's still around 10 people all the time. And did you notice that the only non-Humanities teacher ever mentioned in first three seasons is Math teacher who is a Posthumous Character?
- Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Harvey is completely oblivious about how bad his bigotry is. He doesn't even think about himself as a bigot and when he finally realizes it, it's a Heroic BSOD for him.
- Wacky Homeroom: The Dungeon. The very reason why Marla walks out on the class, though not before writing "Gone to kill myself. Hope you're happy" on the blackboard.
- Walk and Talk: Most of the time, the teachers talk with each other while traversing the corridor. Steven is usually informed about the situation while walking to the site.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Harry Senate. Dear God, Harry Senate. It even almost gets him fired at one point in Season 1.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Kimberly Woods in the third season.