Entertainment

‘Schooled’ star AJ Michalka relates to role, hates on Zima

Schooled | Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., ABC

If anyone can appreciate the struggles faced by Lainey, the failed singer who reluctantly returns to teach music at her old high school on “Schooled,” it’s AJ Michalka. In real life, AJ, 27, and her big sister Aly, 29, have nabbed accolades, gold and platinum records and an American Music Award nomination as a pop-music duo. But doubts still creep in. “There was a time when I did not feel confident in our music, and I think Lainey has felt that way most of her life,” said AJ, who stars in “The Goldbergs” spinoff. “You go through a lull and find yourself in a writer’s block. Those things translate between character and real life.”

The sisters still record and tour — they hosted a sold-out show at the Gramercy Theater this past June — in between acting gigs, which now include AJ’s role and Aly’s part as Peyton Charles on the CW’s “iZombie.” In this week’s episode of “Schooled,” stylish Lainey offers to give a makeover to an awkward pupil.

AJ recently spoke to The Post about Lainey’s challenges, her “Goldbergs” co-star Wendi McLendon-Covey, and what she thinks of the ’90s alcoholic beverage Zima.

AJ Michalka
AJ MichalkaABC

What’s the hardest part of going from student to teacher for Lainey?
She feels like one of the students. She’s still figuring out who she is as an adult. This job feels temporary and then she realizes it is not. She’s there to help these kids figure out what they want to do with their lives as musicians, and I didn’t necessarily have that. Her place at William Penn is a lot more deeply rooted than she thought.

Have you ever considered teaching?
I’ve thought about it because I love kids. I love the teacher-student relationship. It’s underplayed in society. What teachers are doing is heroic.

You have more lines than on “The Goldbergs.” How do you like that?
I’m channeling Wendi as much as I can. She is my comedy mentor. She’s been on “The Goldbergs” for six years and she knows exactly what she’s doing. I hope I can lead with as much comedy and grace.

You sang on “The Goldbergs.” Will you also perform on “Schooled”?
When it works for a storyline, I would love that — and Eric Hegedus, Robert Rorke Adam [Goldberg] knows. Right now, it makes sense that as a teacher she’s guiding these kids to find their own voice and kind of taking a back seat. But eventually I think she’ll have her big star performance because that’s just how Lainey is.

You were born in 1991. What do you think of the show’s ’90s references to Nirvana, “Saved By the Bell” and Michael Jordan?
There’s a lot of references to film, music and TV and especially how we dress — it’s full-on ’90s fashion and I loved the ’90s. You’re gonna get a piece of that every episode. Episode 10 is gonna be — I can’t say more — it’s an ode to a comedy that came out then. We’re gonna capitalize off a film that people love.

In last week’s episode there was a reference to the ’90s alcoholic drink Zima. Have you tried it?
I have. I think it’s disgusting. [Laughs.] It’s not my drink of choice — that’s Mike’s Hard Lemonade. But I think it’s a really funny moment in the episode because Lainey catches one of her students basically pulling a move that she used to pull. It’s a sweet wink to Lainey’s past as a kid.

— Eric Hegedüs


And here’s what else to watch this week:

The Grand Tour | Friday, Amazon

Series premiere. Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May of “Top Gear” fame return to tour the world in this show about adventure and friendship — as long as you accept that your friends are often annoying. Sometimes “The Grand Tour” is even about cars.

Richard Hammond (left), Jeremy Clarkson and James May
Richard Hammond (left), Jeremy Clarkson and James May
Amazon

A Million Little Things | Thursday, 9 p.m., ABC

Delilah (Stephanie Szostak) finds herself leaning on her friends in order to help her family, unexpectedly relying on Katherine (Grace Park), whom she betrayed.

True Detective | Sunday, 9 p.m., HBO

Season premiere. It’s been four years since the last season of “True Detective” bombed. Mahershala Ali plays an Arkansas detective who revisits painful memories when a cold case is reopened. As is typical of this bro-fest, there is only one actress — Carmen Ejogo — with a prominent role in the cast.

Dirty John | Sunday, 10 p.m., Bravo

Season finale. John (Eric Bana) meets his maker in a parking lot. With Connie Britton and Julia Garner.

The Passage | Monday, 9 p.m., Fox

Series premiere. With a flu epidemic threatening the US, Federal Agent Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) brings in secret medical facility Project Noah’s latest test subject, 1o-year-old Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney) for a special consulation.

This Is Us | Tuesday, 9 p.m., NBC

Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) campaign comes to a close. Meanwhile, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) get ready for the baby. With Justin Hartley.

Roswell, New Mexico | Tuesday, 9 p.m., The CW

Series premiere. Roswell native Liz Ortecho (Jeanine Mason) moves home and reconnects with police officer Max Evans (Nathan Parsons), her teenage crush. Guess what? Max is an alien, as are his otherworldly siblings, Isobel and Michael (Michael Vlamis).

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