I have been a big fan of Veronica Mars for some time now. I am currently watching Season 3, thanks to Netflix.
This season, Veronica and nearly all of her friends are at university. In a somewhat odd bit of storytelling, however, every singe teaching assistant at “Hearst College” is a total a-hole. Every single one, without exception.
This is unfair. I served as a teaching assistant for many years, as did many of my friends. I can honestly say that, while perhaps 10% of TAs are pure evil, most are not. Overworked, yes; usually tired and stressed, yes; occasionally a little snippy, yes; but certainly not evil, as they are in this series.
One thing that always makes me laugh — and this particular fallacy goes back to the 1980s film “Real Genius” — is when TAs lament about having to “pick up [the professor’s] dry-cleaning.” I don’t know why scriptwriters have this belief that TAs are asked to perform such tasks. I certainly never was, and I don’t know a single TA at at least two universities who were ever asked to carry out such menial jobs.
Grade a hundred papers in 2 days? Absolutely. Digest months’ worth of lectures and translate it into something 18-year olds can understand (no easy feat, trust me)? Of course. Dry cleaning? Never.
Hopefully Hollywood gets that message. Pass it on if you can.
All this being said, however, I have known some really awful TAs. Not only were they terrible teachers, and even bad public speakers, they were just awful people in many ways.
You know who you are.