“FREAKS AND GEEKS” IS SIMPLY PRECIOUS
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that a tv show about high school students is not for you but you would be very wrong. Freaks and Geeks is absolutely marvelous in nearly every way.
The 1999 comedy drama is about the Weir siblings and their friend groups. Sam Weir (John Francis Daley) is a complete cutie and his sister Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) is so impressionable, it’s actually hilarious. They are very different in many ways but they have two similarities, their undying need to be good and liked. The inception of their story begins with a confounded Lindsay who had just decided that she wanted a change in scene and friend group. No longer a math-athlete, she followed her crush into a new crowd of teens considered the “freaks” of McKinley High School. But actually, they are quite the characters. In the meantime, Sam tries to figure out how to deal with his annoying school bullies. The combination of this simple directive and their dramatic focus of their success in these areas, make the show a fun watch.
Freaks and Geeks is prime 90s feel-good content, akin to John Hughes other creative work. It ultimately blends coming of age nostalgia with a barrage of ordinance but, through the gaze of precocious high school students. The show has the dry comedy you would expect from British TV shows or adult comedy, lots of satire and commentary about stereotypes and the characters we all play into which generally, makes it entertaining for anyone to watch. But above all, its lively characters are unforgettable and endearing. Series creator and writer, Paul Feig, might just be a genius.
In fact, the show probably has the perfect introduction episode which captures the tone and energy you should expect throughout. Further on in the show, as Lindsay finds a footing with her new crowd of misdemeanors, we discover personalities like Ken (Seth Rogen), Daniel (James Franco), Kim (Busy Philipps) and Nick (Jason Segel), are weird but neglected teens who use their alternative image to find a sense of belonging. On the subject of ostracization, the show shines. The cast are really so convincing in their roles even though some of the team were already in their early 20s during production. Yet, there is still an air of youth because of characters like Sam and his crew of “geeks”, Neal (Samm Levine) and Bill (Martin Starr) who had a sense of maturity beyond their ages.
The best part about Freaks and Geeks is how it humanizes every trope character. Its most special feature is its focus on the underdogs. Sam’s sincerity is so enchanting, you feel for him. The fact that high school is so hard for him is so frustrating but his trials also help to contextualize a lot of the absolutely ludicrous practices and ideas that are tolerated in society. For instance, Sam’s lean into sexual education emphasizes the gap in understanding in that area and how the stigma surrounding learning about sexual health can traumatize kids. Further, his mom (Becky Ann Baker) and dad’s (Joe Flaherty) yearning for closeness with him and Lindsay is actually quite touching when you watch the show again as an adult because their need for attention is so normal but funnily enough, framed as overbearing. In actuality though, it is sweet that their parents afford serious attention to their minute issues even when they would prefer to ignore them. In some moments, it ends up biting them but, in all cases, it makes for a good time for audiences as they manoeuvre through the awkward situations that their children force them into.
The show was definitely ahead of its time. Maybe it wasn’t initially successful because it was targeted towards teens in that era but it feels similar to Euphoria in that, the themes, jokes, and references might be better suited for adults. If anything, there are so many laugh-out-loud moments that are comforting to watch, perfect for an openminded adult. Freaks and Geeks is ultimately a show that will be timeless because it’s enriched with a great balance of thought provoking moments and ease.