We knew “Adjunct Hell” was going to be about academia even before we knew it was going to be an age difference story. I mean, sure, it took us about .5 seconds to go from “we should write a story set at a college!” to “professor and older student!” because that’s how we roll, but still, writing about the world of academia was a big driver for us.
We like writing backstage stories, and academia is one of those worlds — like film, or professional sports, or politics — where the way things work is not actually the way most people think they work. And they definitely don’t work the way they do on TV or in the movies. Academia is full of drama and interpersonal conflict. It’s long, long, long hours, endless problem sets to grade, and never enough time for your own research. It’s a lot of career uncertainty. It’s definitely never enough pay.
I got my master’s degree while working a full-time dayjob, and I look back on those years and wonder how I survived. But in the high-stakes, 80-hour-a-week of academia, there’s a lot of space for personal drama — and personal hilarity.
Because really — a professor dating a student, even a student a couple of decades older than himself, is a really bad idea. And the potential for farce, terrible personal choices, the and comedic joy of interfering officemates was something we just couldn’t pass up. We like putting our characters in tough situations, and watching Phil and Carl struggle to keep their relationship secret while respectively trying to also do their homework and not tank their chances at tenure, was a joy.