By MICHAEL EMERSON
Some people look back at their high school days with fond memories of discovering who they are, growing up and creating lifelong friendships. Others look back at their high school years with disdain and try to forget all the times they were bullied either by fellow students or sometimes by the teachers.
That’s what the 1999 program, Freaks and Geeks, created by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, tried to show as it observed two different perspectives of teenage life.
Freaks and Geeks is set in 1980 during a bit of a transition between old-time life values and teenage drama.
The show focuses on the daily life of Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) a former straight-A student who, after the untimely death of her grandmother, starts to associate herself with the school’s “freaks,” a group of troubled delinquents who would rather cut class and smoke pot than attempt to get out of their situation.
The secondary storyline features Lindsay’s brother Sam Weir (John Francis Daily) who hangs out with his two friends; the allergy-prone Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) and the funny man Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine). They are known as the “geeks” who enjoy comics, Star Trek, video games and the occasional session of Dungeons and Dragons.
The series explores not only the experiences of the two main characters but the lives of the different members of each group and the motivations behind their characters. Neal deals with his dad’s affair, and a girl named Kim Kelly deals with her ramshackle household and abusive mother. Each character gets a story and a look into their personal lives, which makes them more three-dimensional and engaging. Learning how the stereotypical characters came to be makes them more relatable. This is made all the better by the young actors’ great talent, especially the ‘geeks’ who always get a laugh with their antics.
The show only ran for one season but fans campaigned to release more episodes to make it complete. The show is remembered mostly for its fortuitous casting of the “freaks” which included the talents of James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segal. This is also its weakest point. All of the freaks’ actors were in their early 20’s when the show was made and each of them are incredibly awkward when interacting with actual 16-year-olds who are still developing.
While it may not have been incredibly successful the show has an abundance of brilliant moments that overshadow its more groan-worthy content. It’s definitely worth a watch for anyone looking for a show with well-handled drama, good-timed comedy and a cast of characters that never gets old.