A washed-up former child star is stuck teaching English to an eclectic group of immigrants after a drunken run-in with the law.
ESL is a half-hour, single-camera comedy about a washed-up former child star who, against his will, must teach an English as a Second Language class as part of a community service sentence. It’s a series about our lead, John Diacano, a broken man who’s spent the majority of his life thinking only of himself, but who unexpectedly discovers his life’s purpose is teaching others. It’s about John’s students, six immigrants from all corners of the world, whose vastly different backgrounds and world views lead to constant infighting, but who are united in a common goal of mastering the English language. And it’s about that most hallowed of Western concepts, the American Dream, which has taken a beating over the years but remains stubbornly alive, even in a cramped, rented classroom in the deep San Fernando Valley with a broken air conditioner.
Much of the show takes place at the Woodman ESL School – which is nothing more than one rented classroom and one half-assed ”teacher’s lounge” in an office building in Van Nuys. The man who runs the school, Tom Woodman, cuts corners wherever and whenever he can. Perhaps that’s why he’s had trouble attracting reputable teachers, and the ones he does get don’t tend to stick around for very long (John’s predecessor, the mysterious “Mr. Fraser,” kept a human heart in his desk and went to prison for undisclosed reasons). We’ll also spend time in and around John’s apartment, a one-bedroom in East Hollywood. John’s psychotic ex-girlfriend, Crystal, moves out in the pilot episode, and soon after, John takes on a roommate who also happens to be one of his students, Lorenzo. John had to give up his comfortable westside lifestyle years ago, when those feature residuals started drying up. Now his ‘hood is shady and his regular haunts are divey – not hipster divey either. He’s surrounded by immigrants – Armenians, Koreans, Thai, Mexicans – whose broken English, ironically, has always irritated him. This isn’t 90210, it’s 90029. We’ll also explore the students’ lives outside of the classroom. With the exception of Nina (a diplomat), they’re at or around John’s economic station. Yuuki owns a sushi restaurant. Lucia works at a daycare. Jeevan is a club promoter (sort of). Their Los Angeles – and the show’s – isn’t the Los Angeles depicted in most movies and TV. It’s the real, less-burnished version – populated by people not living the dream, but aspiring to it.
Contact the Producers
Full Pilot, Series Mini-bible, and EPK available upon request.