Before you go ahead and criticize me for being “late on the draw” on this high school cult classic TV drama, it did actually re-air on IFC (aka hipster TV) back in 2010. So it makes me more hip to review it 4 years later, right?
Freaks And Geeks originally aired from 1999-2000 on NBC. 18 episodes were created, but only 12 aired. Due to poor ratings and inconvenient time changes, the show had to come to a halt, even though it did receive 3 Emmy nods, with one win (Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series). But all of a sudden, there is a resurgence of it. Odd? I would like to think so. But, lets take a look at it anyway!
This show (like others during the childhood of a 1990’s kid) centered on a high school, friends, and a family. It had its typical ups and downs, tears, laughs, and awkward moments. But what is it that sets it apart from all of the rest? The cast and the writing. First, lets start with the cast. I think it can be summed up by this picture. Ready?
Lets just start with the first 3 gentlemen to the left in the picture. Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segel. I don’t really need to go in-depth with probably the three most well known current comedic actors of this time period, but look at them! They look so young! And who would’ve thought that these three would be in a show like this one. They are labeled as the “Freaks” in this show and do you want to take a wild guess as to how I think they played the part? Dandy. Peachy… and freaking dandy. They were spot on.
Now, the main charter, Lindsay Weir (played by Linda Cardellini) probably isn’t the most well known of faces to some, but she has a good track record of hits after this show, including ER, Regular Show and Mad Men. Not to mention, her beauty is not only quite stunning, but also quite underrated if you ask me.
Skipping to the next boy in the picture. This is Sam Weir (played by John Francis Daley), who is Lindsay’s brother in the show. Once again, this guy might not be as big as the other three men before him, but it is a face that makes think “I have seen him before… but in what?” Does the movie Waiting ring a bell? It doesn’t? How about the 119 episodes of Bones he was in? Still no? Well, if you’ve seen Horrible Bosses or Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, then you have at least experienced his writing. I will leave you with one of my favorite comedic movie moments of all time, which features the man of the hour:
And of course random cameo appearances from other actors, including Shia LaBeouf and Ben Stiller. But, apparently it wasn’t enough. So, that means it must have been the writing that sucked? Well, you’re wrong! And even if you thought it was good, you’re still wrong because I’m the writer and we’re always right!
But really, the writing I felt was the best I’ve seen for any High School-set TV show I’ve ever watched. It had ample time for laughs and drama, with every episode featuring a new problem but also continuing the underlying plot. What is that plot you say? High School sucks. But the plot within that plot? High School is actually not that bad. Yes, these times of your life are hopefully the most awkward, but where would you be without them? So much of what we know is from our experiences in high school. Even if you hated all of high school, at least you now know what you hate. Unlike today, the trio of Freaks (Rogen, Franco, Segel) weren’t too over-the-top funny. They were rather… cool, collected, and each filled a niche in the group that actually kinda portrays them now. Even though the last episode leaves off on a weird note, I feel the writing really was better than other shows of the High School variety. Lindsey (the main protagonist) struggles to find where she fits in at school and what she wants to do with her future. As I follow her throughout the show, I started to gravitate more towards the supporting characters. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her character, I just felt I had figured her out by episode 3.
So why did it end? Well, let’s take at look at its competition on the primetime channels: 7th Heaven, Touched By An Angel, Boy Meets World, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire took up most of the airtime. And even though its ratings were bad, a little show show named Family Guy was just starting to get off the ground. A wise man from a book I read once said “Nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy”. And, well, I suppose this was the case here. It wasn’t a horrible show, it didn’t have a bad cast, it just wasn’t meant for that year… or even time period! If this was saved and released now with the same plot and just different actors/actresses… I feel it would be a pretty decent success considering the niche it fills is really being filled currently. I think the main reason it is gaining so much viewership currently and why IFC re-aired in in 2010 was because of the trio’s (Rogen, Franco, Segel) current fame and popularity. But for people like me, it was almost hitting home when we were in high school. Even if it was all of 8 years ago, there is a sense of connectedness that draws you into it.
In short, if you got time to kill, I suggest it. And if you don’t have that much time, well who cares? It’s one season long! That’s like a weekend of sitting on your couch eating pizza and toaster strudel. Before I leave you… here is a short personal list of shows that made it past a season, that should have never aired:
Jersey Shore, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Will & Grace, and my personal favorite, Kyle XY.