New ABC sitcom makes character Lainey a teacher
AJ Michalka admits she’s somewhat surprised to be getting “Schooled.”
Though she was a regular on “The Goldbergs” for two seasons, much of her time there has been as a recurring player – but she and her character, Lainey Lewis, fuel the ABC spinoff premiering Wednesday, Jan. 9, immediately following the parent show. The new sitcom brings Lainey into the 1990s and a job as a music teacher at her alma mater, but Principal Glascott and Coach Mellor (Tim Meadows and Bryan Callen, also continuing their “Goldbergs” roles) don’t accept her new status readily … nor does Lainey herself.
“She’s grown up, so I’m finding out who she is in the ‘90s,” the pleasant Michalka says, “but I feel so comfortable having played her for the last six seasons.” The actress appreciates that the new show is “praising teachers. They’re helping to raise these kids, just like teachers helped raise Adam (on ‘The Goldbergs’), and that’s a cool ode that’s not really being done on TV right now. I have huge respect for what they do.”
Lainey still feels compelled to prove herself to others, which doesn’t remove her too far from her students. “That’s a bit of the comedy behind this,” Michalka confirms. “She’s still figuring out who she is while she has to mentor these kids.”
Though executive producer and co-creator Adam Goldberg (played by Sean Giambrone in the first show) had talked to Michalka about being in ”Schooled,” she admits it ultimately was “a surprise” to find herself so pivotal to it. ”I figured they would maybe have me in and out. I didn’t know it would be this extensive; I’m now narrating the show, too.”
While starting “Schooled,” Michalka also was back working on “The Goldbergs,” putting touches on Lainey’s relationship with Barry (Troy Gentile) that enable her new path. Still being in the company of other “Goldbergs” veterans on “Schooled,” Michalka maintains, “There’s just such an easy rhythm on the set, which you don’t usually get on a new show.” She adds that “Jane the Virgin” alum Brett Dier, who plays fellow teacher Charlie “C.B.” Brown, is “the new kid in town, and we just adore him.”
Michalka would welcome her fellow singer-actress sister Aly getting a ”Schooled” role, though she trusts Goldberg to orchestrate that organically if it happens. For now, she’s adjusting to leaving some “Goldbergs” colleagues while leading a series for the first time – but she’s not opposed to returning to that show.
“Adam’s always full of surprises, and characters always come back,” Michalka reasons. “Who knows where I’ll be when they’re on Episode 22 of this season? I’m game to do both, as long as they want me to.”