schooled

Class is in session for The Goldbergs‘ new spin-off this year. Schooled follows Lainey Lewis (AJ Michalka) as she becomes a teacher at William Penn Academy. Mr. Glascott (Tim Meadows) is now the principal and Mr. Mellor (Bryan Callen) and Mr. Ball (Stephen Tobolowsky) are still around too.

What The Goldbergs is to the ’80s, Schooled is to the ’90s. Mark Firek, who co-created Schooled with Adam F. Goldberg, was at ABC’s party for the Television Critics Association and spoke with /Film about the show’s take on the ’90s, and this week’s episode centered on the iconic ’90s musical Rent. Schooled airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. right after The Goldbergs on ABC.

Are you full time on Schooled now? You can’t do both?

No, no, I co-created it with Adam and then running the show. So full-time gig.

Are you more of a ’90s kid like he was an ’80s kid?

I am a ’90s older kid, let’s put it that way.

How much fun was it to research things that happened in the ’90s that can be funny?

It’s a blast. I mean, it’s a treasure trove like any decade. I think I enjoy digging out the stuff from the ’90s more than I did the ’80s. I think music, we really hit a motherload of great songs, [it’s] an embarrassment of riches every week what song we’re going to slap in there. Movies-wise, we’ve got a lot of nods to movies. I don’t know if it’s because kids are younger, it’s more recent but they seem to be striking a chord with viewers.

I’m a ’90s kid and I’m realizing that was a much better decade than I gave it credit for when I was living in it.

No, I agree. When you start consolidating the stuff and looking at what happened, it was a good decade.

Do you have any particular sources to look for that stuff?

I actually have great staff writers and young writers who are younger than I am who lived it and from a younger point of view. They were sometimes pre-teens and sometimes just middle teens and a couple of ’em are just pop culture encyclopedias and they’ve been great to mine.

The Goldbergs was always 1980-something. Is Schooled more specific to a year?

Nope, we’re mining from the whole decade and we’ll mix and match. As a Goldbergs writer, and I know Adam’s talked about this a lot, even in the early days when Adam was pitching, “No, we can take Reebok pumps from 1989 and we can take Poltergeist from 1982 and put them in the same episode. It’s a flashback show. It’s memories. Why should we go year by year and wait for good things to come. Just take the best stuff, the stuff that makes people happy and put it together.”

Goldbergs have done some entire episodes inspired by movies. Could Schooled work in that format?

Yeah, we could definitely do that. Our “Lainey’s All That” episode, our second episode, had a lot of homages to She’s All That. It wasn’t sort of a point by point retelling which we would sometimes do on The Goldbergs like with Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller where we followed the plot of the movie. But we’ve done really good homages and parallels to movies like that. We’ve talked about doing a whole follow the plot of big ’90s movies like Titanic.

Are the things girls were into in the ’90s very different than what boys were into in the ’80s?

Definitely. Kids of different races, different backgrounds, everybody has a lot of different touchstones and we try to keep that open to everybody and remembering that not everybody was grunge, not everybody was Fresh Prince, not everybody was NSYNC. We try to include it all.

You mentioned Titanic. Would Clueless and Empire Records also be big for ’90s girls?

Yeah, and like I said She’s All That. Clueless we talk about quite a bit. I know a lot of younger women who are on staff have a very clear list of top 10 movies that they want to do. Like we do the Rent episode and that show means a lot to young people, a lot of young women and girls who are in their teens. I really encourage you to watch it if you like the show because it’s a great episode. It really hits on all cylinders.

Do you have any of the songs from Rent in it?

Yup. The one that counts the minutes in a year and another one, “Living in America.”

Since The Goldbergs is 1980something, does that give you some leeway as to where Lainey’s been since then? Do you have to leave some gaps so you don’t step on the toes of The Goldbergs?

We are leaving some gaps. Those things have been challenges. We look forward to having special guests from the Goldberg family coming up. Where they’ve been and what they’ve done is a tricky challenge because how much do you want to tell the story that The Goldbergs still has yet to tell? It becomes challenging.

Is it nice to have constant characters like Mr. Ball?

It is. He;s become a very handy character to have. Tobolowsky is a comedy rock star so that’s always good to have. Having him as an outside force, a pressure point for Tim has been great.

And Mr. Glascott is a constant from The Goldbergs too.

Yeah, exactly. His character has developed I think probably more than the others. Bryan [Callen] is sort of a constant, a well developed character and everything. I’d say he’s very similar but I think Tim, because part of the concept of this show is that he’s changed jobs, he’s now in charge, he has to overcome his kindness and his gullibility at times to be the guy in charge. We’ve gotten good stories out of that.

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