The “Genghis” episode of the HBO series High Maintenance should be required watching for anyone considering becoming a public school teacher. Avery Monsen stars as Mr. Waxman, a teacher in training assigned to a Brooklyn summer school semester. His enthusiasm could not be higher. He is going to use his humor, his magic skills and his love of people to enthrall the students.
It does not take long for Mr. Waxman’s dreams to be crushed. The kids don’t want to be there, the other teachers are burnouts, and the school rules do not allow him to do anything creative. At one point a student can’t take notes since he has forgotten a pencil. An astonished Mr. Waxman is told that school rules do not allow him to loan the student a pencil.
Jenn Harris is great as Ms. Farad, a teacher burn-our who seems barely able to keep her eyes open. She views the enthusiastic Mr. Waxman with a mixture of disgust and pity.
The curriculum is idiotic as well. They are trying to teach about Genghis Kahn, which is of absolutely no relevance or interest to kids in modern day Brooklyn.
The actors playing the kids are great too. Juliannah Vasquez (Keesha) and Jason Cruz (Daikeen) notice every nuance of the teachers’ attitudes. Their acting skill makes us feel proud that a whole new generation of talented young actors is thriving in the New York area. The tradition of theatrical excellence in our local community continues.
The climax of the episode comes when everyone is asked to write down 2 “truths” and 1 “lie” about themselves. When it comes time for Mr. Waxman to read his list he says.
- “I miss making a lot of money.”
- I am more selfish than I thought.
- I still think it’s a good idea to teach in Brooklyn.”
The kids immediately guess that number 3 is the lie. However, it is not played for laughs. The look on Keesha’s face shows how very disappointed she is that a so called “adult” has given up on them after such a short time.
Katja Blichfeld & Ben Sinclair wrote the episode. Ben admits that he himself had tried to become a public school teacher and did not even make it through the training period.