Ah, high school. A time of making memories, coming of age, preparing for adulthood, and getting framed for murder by your crazy English teacher. At least, according to Lifetime. The network really knows how to make high school look like a hellish place where sex leads to horrible, horrible consequences. This week’s movie Dirty Teacher was no exception. And before you ask, no, that’s not the one with Cameron Diaz.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? Oh, scratch that, it looks like Lifetime wants to start from the end. Okay, then. Our protagonist Jamie (Kelcie Stranahan – star of last year’s Last Hours in Suburbia) is being led to a police car in handcuffs. There are all kinds of grisly shots of a dead body. What happened? Did Jamie do it? Based on the movie’s commercials, no, she didn’t. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to flash back one month and see her not do it.
One-month-younger Jamie is a star student who’s dating baseball player Danny (Cameron Deane Stewart). Danny is suffering from a tragic case of My-Girlfriend-Won’t-Have-Sex-With-Me-itis. It’s very sad. To top it all off, his parents are pressuring him to get into Stanford. Those same parents also fired Jamie’s dad, which led to her parents taking her college money to pay for the house. Ugh, all that drama and he isn’t having sex. Isn’t high school the worst?
Oh no, Lifetime will show you what’s the worst. “The worst” comes in the form of a creepy robot by the name of Ms. Molly Matson (Josie Davis), Dirty Teacher, who has arrived to replace Pregnant Teacher (which is likely in production now). Just to be clear, it’s never explicitly established that she’s a robot, but her starey superhumanly blue eyes give it away. Trust me, I’m an expert. If watching Blade Runner a few times makes you an expert.
Ms. Matson has this little problem where she sees her childhood self in reflective surfaces while hearing her former foster mother (the same foster mother Ms. Matson murdered) calling her an ugly freak. So, you know, totally healthy, normal stuff that causes her to be a creepy student-seducer.
Ms. Matson has eyes for Danny, and Danny has eyes for sex, so it’s a perfect match. After seducing him with ridiculously obvious multiple choice questions and beer at a Chinese restaurant (gets ‘em every time), Ms. Matson has Danny wrapped around her robot finger. Because she is so in love with Danny, Ms. Matson sets out to make Jamie’s life a living hell by giving her a C on her paper. Which is terrible, because she’s such a great student and all. The kind of student who’s asked to provide her favorite literary quote and gives a non-literary quote from Gandhi. So, like, she so obviously deserved an A and stuff.
Jamie starts to suspect that Danny is cheating on her, so she follows him to Ms. Matson’s house, where she peeks through the back door and sees them going at it. At first, she’s totally pissed. But then Ms. Matson changes her grade to an A and Danny apologizes, and everything is okay again.
Until it’s really, really not okay. Danny makes the mistake of meeting Matson in an empty park in the middle of the night. Then he makes the mistake of breaking up with her. And then he makes the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mistake of calling her a “freak.” It’s like Pee-wee Herman’s secret word, except that Pee-wee’s secret word led to fun and happiness and Ms. Matson’s secret word leads to her running a teenage boy over with her car.
For someone who went to the park for a naughty rendezvous with her student/lover, Ms. Matson is quite prepared to deal with her spontaneous murder. She takes a sample of his blood to plant on Jamie’s car, she plants her prepaid cell phone in Jamie’s glove compartment, and she knows to go see a movie that’s almost over so she’ll have the ticket stub as her alibi. It’s almost like she’s murdered someone before. Oh, right, we’ve already established that yes, she has done that.
The ticket stub I mentioned is very important, because it’s for a movie called Blackberry Winter. Besides already being a novel and a short story, that’s the name of a famous book written by a Lifetime character in The Surrogate. You know what that means? It means this movie is by the same director. But other than that, it means that these Lifetime movies take place in the same universe, and in that universe the novel Blackberry Winter has been adapted into a movie. So… cool, right?
Back to the murder. Jamie has to remain under house arrest with an ankle monitor like the litte LiLo that she is. But that won’t stop her from leaving the house and driving to Ms. Matson’s place to try to record a confession on the cell phone that is very obviously hanging out of her pocket. Matson doesn’t buy it, but thankfully the police have been alerted to Jamie’s whereabouts, and an officer arrives just in time to be hit in the head with a fireplace poker. But he also brings a gun, which Jamie uses to keep Matson from escaping. After a few jokes with the cops about rush hour, they all live happily ever after.
Except for Danny, who’s still dead.