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YMMV / Bad Teacher

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  • Adorkable:
    • The new sub teacher Scott. Amy crushes on him, he's a (terrible) musician (only when he tries to write original songs), wears glasses, likes books, and he's sensitive. Plus, he's rich.
    • Amy. She's cheerful and decidedly dorky, and though weird, she's quite attractive. Scott genuinely likes her.
    • Garrett, who is painfully socially awkward until Elizabeth helps him out near the end.
  • Designated Hero: Elizabeth is superficial, vain, lazy and mostly incompetent, and yet she is still the protagonist of the movie. She doesn't help her kids to learn (her success is achieved through cheating and even worse, it's not out of any genuine desire to educate them, but to get the money for breast implants), she doesn't learn anything herself except perhaps to be slightly less superficial and jealousy causes her to ruin the life of her overbearing but well-intentioned rival. She breaks multiple laws and rules and her only selfless acts are brief attempts to make some of her kids a little more cool. In short she is a terrible person and does almost nothing to justify the fact that the audience are supposed to root for her.
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  • Designated Villain: Amy Squirrell. We're clearly supposed to see her overbearing, repeated, downright obsessive efforts to expose Elizabeth as a bad thing, which it would be if it weren't for the fact that she's right.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Russel the male gym teacher, for being the most likeable character in the movie.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The movie's central premise is a woman who can't quit her job because it's her sole source of income. She decides she needs breast enhancement surgery to impress a man and finds out that the teacher whose class has the highest test scores on a state test will get a large bonus. Her attempts to get the bonus involve Gray-and-Grey Morality. Two weeks after the movie premiered, a major test-fixing scandal erupted in the Atlanta public school system, implicating 178 educators, among them 38 principals, and forced the superintendent to resign. A smaller, but similar, situation could have easily happened in the film's universe if Elizabeth's shenanigans backfired.
    • During the teacher dance scene, Scott and Elizabeth sing to "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone, and Scott says that they don't make songs like this anymore, with Russell stating that he's working on a song with a similar phone number title. In 2017, Logic releases "1-800-273-8255", and it's taken in a devastating direction.
    • Elizabeth better hope Garett never tells anyone that she gave him her bra, because that would likely get her into serious trouble these days, and even then!
  • Heartwarming Moments: Elizabeth giving Garrett her bra and "angrily" declaring that she caught him making out with a high school girl, thus elevating him from outcast to legend in two seconds.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Elizabeth wears an "Annie" wig to disguise herself when she seduces the testing official. Three years later, she would be cast as Ms. Hannigan in the 2014 ''Annie" remake.
    • Elizabeth would no longer need to discreetly smoke marijuana, considering the state of Illinois has legalized recreational marijuana in 2020.
  • Memetic Mutation: "IT'S THE ONLY ARGUMENT I NEED, SEAN!" That quote has become a default when arguing with someone on a message board shockingly fast, as well as a hilarious catchphrase due to the 2011 NBA Finals (both involving LeBron James).
    • This becomes Hilarious in Hindsight after the 2012 finals, in which James finally won his first title, along with the Finals MVP award. He still doesn't have six, though.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Kathryn Newton portrays the popular girl Chase Rubin-Rossi. She would later gain recognition for her roles in Big Little Lies, The Society and Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Amy Squirrel is an irritating, meddling goody-two shoes busybody who is completely right in every suspicion that she has about Elizabeth. She doesn't even do anything but be nice and friendly until after she first catches Elizabeth in an illegal act. And she certainly doesn't deserve to lose her boyfriend thanks to Elizabeth's lies and scheming, nor bear the punishment and blame for Elizabeth's crimes.
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  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Amy Squirrel, while a nagging busybody, is a good teacher who cares about her students and genuinely likes her boyfriend for reasons other than his money. Elizabeth rudely and nastily rebuffs her sincere attempts at befriending her, then takes absolutely everything from her and ruins her life, and we are expected to see this as a good (or, at least, a funny) thing.
  • The Woobie: Garrett. Amy as well, who as stated above, does nothing to warrant the horrible things that happen to her.

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