Once upon a pilot season, the diabolical geniuses at FOX pinpointed a rare, under served demographic — grown-up High School Musical fans — and voila! Glee was born. Skeptics be damned, the weekly valentine to musical theater geeks found an audience right away (Josh Groban cameo’ed in the third episode, which must be some sort of record) and just scored a full-season pickup. Is it possible, though, that FOX network execs are even more cunning than we’re giving them credit for? Behind all the choreography, Glee is, at its core, a show about a teacher no 10th grader could resist crushing on. Join us as we explore this important cultural type and most timeless of secret weapons: the cute teacher.
(First, some ground rules: simply being hot isn’t enough to earn a spot on this list. Sorry, steals-from-his-students Bradley Cooper in The Hangover. We also rule out Mr. Holland and his opus on the grounds of fuddy-dudditude. The topic at hand is hot teachers who would also be excellent and completely earnest extracurricular activity coaches.)
1. Glee’s Mr. Schuester: Spanish teacher and director of a struggling high school show choir, preemptively cuckolded by a cruel, pregnancy-faking wife, Mr. Shue (Matthew Morrison) comes complete with smooth dance moves and an aw-shucks smile. Check him out, fedora’ed and in full effect, in the clip below.
Level of Crushworthiness: 9. There are the aforementioned dance moves, plus he comes across as genuinely kind.
2. Billy Madison‘s Veronica Vaughn: Prior to adding the tennis superstar hyphenate to her name, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras played the third grade teacher of Adam Sandler’s immature dreams.
Level of Crushworthiness: 8. In Chris Farley’s immortal words: “That Veronica Vaughn is one piece of ace.” She also had enough integrity to help Billy get through school.
3. School of Rock‘s Dewey Finn: He’s a little bit unconventional (“OK, here’s the deal. I have a hangover. Who knows what that means?”), but he teaches those kids to play music, darnit!
Level of Crushworthiness: 6. Aided by the fact that he’s the only teacher on this list who works with younger kids, but he is still Jack Black.
4. Freaks and Geeks‘s Miss Foote: In what we believe to be the first documented historic occurrence of Judd Apatow casting his wife in a primo role, Leslie Mann played the angelic Miss Foote, the social studies teacher who provided comfort to a peanut-allergy-stricken Bill Haverchuck (fast forward to about 6:50 in the clip below for her first appearance).
Level of Crushworthiness: 7. Miss Foote is so sweet, but clearly star-crossed with Haverchuck and Haverchuck alone.
5. Never Been Kissed‘s Mr. Coulson: This teacher-dating-student scenario would be so, so inappropriate in real life, but thanks to magical movie contrivances, 25-year-old high school senior Josie (Drew Barrymore) and Mr. Coulson (Michael Vartan) are free to ride the Ferris Wheel together for eternity.
Level of Crushworthiness: 10. [Editor’s note: High score in part due to a hypothesis we’ve dubbed the Coulson Fallacy, which posits that, among woman who were 12 years old in 1999, NBK is near-universally regarded as one of the best films of all time.]
Ms. Carr (Laura Breckenridge) in Gossip Girl
Tutor John Brooke (Eric Stoltz) in Little Women
Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey) in Mean Girls
Mr. Medina (Scott Cohen) in Gilmore Girls
Wild Card: Chuck Noblet in Strangers with Candy
Parting thought: Will the new Fame contribute to this specialized genre? Or will the nu-Fame-ers start paying… in sweat?