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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In the Spotlight

TNT’s new school drama is set in Barvikha, one of the wealthy suburbs clustered along Rublyovskoye Shosse outside Moscow, and is titled simply, “Barvikha.”

TNT does a lot of half-hour comedy shows and its bread-and-butter is the daily reality show “Dom-2.” So “Barvikha” is something different. Each episode lasts an hour and the series isn’t really a sitcom. It’s a bit like a Latin American soap opera, with the teenage school students far too busy popping tranquillizers, taking part in illegal kickboxing matches and — of course — falling in love with each other, to concentrate on their math homework.

“Barvikha” begins with a collage of newspaper clippings telling us that the old school has been replaced with a fancy new one, and so the kids from the wrong side of the tracks will now be sharing classrooms with the rich kids — unlikely as that sounds.

The school looks fairly conventional inside, with portraits of Chekhov and poet Sergei Yesenin on the walls. But its auburn-haired principal looks decades too young, as if she is about to whip off her clothes in some dubious porn scenario. In Friday’s episode, she inserted a love letter into the briefcase of a young teacher and then cursed under her breath as he cut classes to go to a “funeral” with a huge bunch of red roses.

One of the main characters is a curly-haired girl called Zhenya. She lives in a well-appointed apartment with her own bedroom, but her mother goes out to work, so she tries to conceal her humble origins from her classmates. In Friday’s episode, she had been expelled from school after a wild party and was lying dolefully on a couch taking pills to make her “feel better.” Her stressed-out mother told her off, but then changed her mind and swallowed a handful herself.

Zhenya was being courted by a well-heeled bad boy. He the saw unopened letter from the principal drop out of the young teacher’s briefcase and picked it up. Here was the perfect opportunity, he told her, as she was called in for a pre-expulsion grilling. But the principal took pity on Zhenya and Zhenya did the same, returning the letter. “You’re a [expletive],” she told the bad boy.

Meanwhile, a sporty boy from the wrong side of the tracks, nicknamed Bashnya, or tower, had to earn cash by taking part in an illegal “no-rules” kickboxing contest. He was dragged out bleeding and unconscious, and a couple of police cars drove past without stopping.

One of the producers of “Barvikha” is television veteran Alexander Lyubimov, who hosted extremely popular talk shows in the 1990s. On the show’s web site he compared “Barvikha’s” take on teenage life to “We’ll Survive till Monday,” a lovely Soviet school film.

That 1968 film has the basic ingredients of a John Hughes film — the cool but cruel guy, the pretty but disdainful girl, the nerdy but secretly brilliant guy — but mixes it up with a romance between the dusty history teacher and the wide-eyed young English teacher.

There’s not a huge tradition of school shows on Russian television. The best-known one is the comedy show “Yeralash,” which dates back to the 1970s. It has child actors playing little sketches in very realistic-looking classrooms with plants and chalky blackboards. The jokes are innocent fun about cheating on tests, crushes and getting even with bullies.

I don’t know whether “Barvikha” will be a hit — CTC started a similar, though far more anodyne, show about a well-heeled school a few years ago and it bombed. But it’s nice to see a few boundaries being broken.