Cover Photo: A screenshot of the actor Matthew Morrison from the show Glee, playing the drama teacher Will Schuester. He is wearing a checkered shirt and a sweater vest and has his hands spread out in an enthusiastic gesture while smiling.
Photograph via Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision/Ryan Murphy Productions/20th Century Fox Television

Why Pop Culture Loves the Toxic Drama Teacher Trope

There is a great tradition of depicting the archetype of the unbridled, emotionally exploitative acting teacher.

King Lear


The Children’s HourBlack SnowFameA Chorus LineNever!

High School MusicalGleeSummer Heights HighDrama HighRise


Trust ExerciseCycloramaThe Diary of Anne Frank

AnnieMake her drink a Mickey Finn!

AnnieYou stand out like a blue dot on a red field


Lady Bird

Don’t shrug!Don’t you dare shrug!

Even now—even now!—she is trying to give me an acting lesson

Sunday in the Park with George

Jenny Singer is a student in the MFA Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in Glamour, The Independent, the Forward, and the San Francisco Chronicle