Freaks and Geeks is probably tied with My So-Called Life for ‘most beloved one season show of the 90’s’. There isn’t really one specific reason why it’s so great, it’s got everything going for it: the acting is good, the writing is good, the characters are relatable, the situations are realistic, and it takes place in 1980 so there’s lots of clothing choices to laugh at. And unlike a lot of movies or tv shows that are modern period pieces, they don’t go out of their way to smack you over the head with pop culture references. And even though it’s mostly regarded as a comedy, the overall feel of the show is very muted. The crew actually lit the scenes with green tinted lights to give them a muted, ‘midwestern’ look and they avoided shooting outside as much as possible so the sunny California weather didn’t contrast with it too much.
Freaks and Geeks is about the lives of two groups of students at a high school in a small town in Michigan. Lindsay is a girl who has gone from geek to wanna-be freak, and her brother Sam is a total geek. The show mostly centers around them, but it is an ensemble cast so we get plenty of back story on the other kids. Lindsay has the hots for the cute freak, and even though she clearly struggles with being ‘bad’ she goes along with a lot of stuff to impress him. Which is weird because he has a girlfriend. Sam is in love with a cheerleader and also tries to impress her, but that just ends in him being embarrassed repeatedly.
One episode that I really relate to is the episode where Sam freaks out because his gym class is told that after class showers are now mandatory. he’s a really short, skinny kid so of course he’s self-conscious about getting naked in front of the other guys. I remember when we did the tour of my junior high and I saw the showers, I thought of every embarrassing high school shower scene i’d ever seen a movie and started freaking out. Luckily, I quickly found out that no one showered after gym and even if we wanted to, the teacher gave us less than ten minutes to change. And no one ever ripped off my clothes and pushed me out into the hall!
My favorite character is Nick, because look at this guy. Jason Segel plays obsessive characters a lot and he does it really well, and he’s nice at the same time so you kind of want to root for him to get the girl even though he’s kind of creepy about it.
Freaks and Geeks never stood a chance, it started out on Saturday nights and was often preempted for other programming. They actually shot the finale halfway through the season because they didn’t even expect to get past the original 13 episodes, but NBC ordered another five before cancelling it. They received lots of critical acclaim and even won an Emmy, and the show has a huge following. The only thing I find disappointing is that there wasn’t a ten year reunion movie! What the hell! Judd Apatow is rich, everyone on the show got really famous, they totally could’ve gotten the money to make it!
In case you don’t recognize the people above, starring Linda Cardellini (ER, Scooby Doo, Mad Men), John Francis Daley (Bones, Waiting), James Franco (Spiderman, Milk, General Hospital), Busy Philipps (Dawson’s Creek, ER, Cougar Town), Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Slackers), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Zack and Miri, The League), Samm Levine (Inglorious Basterds, Not Another Teen Movie), Martin Starr (Adventureland, Party Down, Veronica Mars movie), plus cameos from everyone to Joel Hodgson (MST3k) to Ben Stiller.
Menu time! Lindsay’s mom is such a good cook that it’s hard to choose one entree, so take your pick. No peanuts are present anywhere!
Entree: Skip the three way date and go straight for the ribs, comfort a hysterical teenage girl with seitan (not veal, ew) piccata, invite your mom over for some Monster Mash shepherd’s pie and maybe to help her hand out candy in dorky costumes, or enjoy Bill’s mom’s pot roast.
Side dish: relive the 80’s by boiling the shit out of any vegetable you want!
Dessert: make some vegan donuts for your French class, and then let people eat them off the floor. Or just make the donuts.