I hope that everyone had a restful weekend. I spent the majority of mine binge watching “Freaks and Geeks”, the acclaimed short-lived teen drama which ran for just one season between 1999 and 2000, and was produced by Judd Apatow, best known for his “frat pack” comedies. Set in Michigan in 1980, this show focuses on two disparate groups of high school students at William McKinley High School, the “Freaks and Geeks” of the title.
Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini), a former star mathlete, is a recent addition to the Freaks, a posse of rebellious junior students consisting of charismatic Daniel Desario (James Franco), sensitive Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel),Daniel’s fiery girlfriend Kim Kelly (Busy Phillips), and the deadpan Ken Miller (Seth Rogen). Meanwhile, her younger brother Sam (John Francis Daley) navigates his freshman year of high school with his best friends Neil Schweiber (Samm Levine) and Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr). Along the way, he must contend with trying to get close to his crush, cheerleader Cindy Saunders (Natasha Melnick), as well as tolerating class bully Alan White (Chauncey Leopardi).
Lindsay’s decision to abandon the Mathletes and become a Freak is met with contempt by her classmates, particularly by her former best friend and fellow Mathlete, Millie (Sarah Hagan), who tries to bring Lindsay back to where she belongs, with limited success . Lindsay’s struggle to find herself forms the basis of the series, and about teenagers trying to figure out where they fit in. She confesses to Sam that she stopped caring about her grades when their grandmother died. She had been a decent person her entire life, and informed Lindsay that there was “nothing” waiting for her before she died. This led to Lindsay to yearn for a more meaningful way of life.
The series also covers topics such as bulling,underage drinking, insecurity, infidelity, body image and other issues which come with being a teenager. Sam and Lindsay’s parents, Harold and Jean (John Flaherty and Becky Ann Baker) are always there to offer support to their kids when they need it.
The most amazing part of the show is how realistic and relatable it is. Following its cancellation in 2000, the show gained itself a loyal fanbase. It’s considered to be one of the top high school shows of the last few years- not a bad feat for a show which only lasted a total of 18 episodes. Some of the main stars of “Freaks and Geeks” (namely Franco, Rogen, Phillips, Daley and Segel) have become more famous, in part because of the acclaim of “Freaks and Geeks”.
I give “Freaks and Geeks” a total of 5 out of five stars. It didn’t get the second season or the reception it deserved, but I feel that teens aged 14 and upwards would benefit from watching the show, and how it depicts teen life while sympathising with their various plights. Very highly recommended!