You may know him as one of the fantasy baseball players from the Knocked Up movie or the DJ from the Dewey Cox Story, but it’s more likely that you’ve never heard of him. He’s Paul Feig, the creator of the 1999 series Freaks and Geeks, which was canceled after one season. It gained cult status not only among the audience – TV Guide ranked it among the top 25 cult series of 2004. In 1999, geeks were not yet as in as they are today when we see them in Jpod, The Big Bang Theory, IT Crowd, and the eighties, in which the story is set, were still too close. Freaks and Geeks are more or less to the 80s what The Wonder Years are to the 60s, and 70′s show is to the 70s.
The story revolves around several heroes of a high school in America, three younger friends (geeks) and several older ones (freaks). The central characters are brother and sister Sam Geek Weir and Lindsay Freak Weir. Sam, today a doctor in the Bones series, and his two friends Bill and Neal, for whom these were practically their first roles, enter the teenage world of love, girls, and sex, and since they are not among the more popular at school, they are most often targeted by school bullies.
The older team, the freaks, is well known today – James Franco (Spiderman), Jason Segal (Knocked up; Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Seth Rogan (Superbad, Knocked Up), Linda Cardellini (ER). Finally, there is the producer (and one of the screenwriters) of the whole story – did you suspect it – one of the biggest stars of today’s Hollywood, Judd Apatow. Fig has reached the director (The Office, Weeds, Mad Men), and I hope he is preparing some new screenwriting venture.
Although the first two episodes are not promising, and it’s hard to decide to watch the third, things start to develop, and it becomes clear why Freaks and Geeks ended up among the cult series. Perhaps the key to the guiding thought is in the tagline – Everything you remember from high school that you’ve decided to forget. As in the later works of Apatow and his team, the focus here is on total outsiders (geeks are cool only in Judd Apatow’s movies – the quote is from the fourth season of the Grass series), with whom the viewer can identify and identify.
Sam is a fan of Star Wars – in his school locker hangs the cover of Time magazine with Darth Vader, and on the wall of his room is a poster for Battlestar Galactica, so the series is full of occasional science fiction references to that era (“The dance is tomorrow. She’s a cheerleader, you’ve seen Star Wars 27 times. Do the math yourself”). In contrast, Lindsay, a former math team member, is increasingly rebellious, leading her to a group of freaks with whom she begins to hang out but who fall more under her influence than they do under theirs. The period of the eighties itself is not pushed as much as it could be, but enough to make the series entertaining for everyone who lived their childhood and youth in those years. If you enjoyed the later works of Apatow and crew, don’t miss the series that was the foundation of their success today.
The series featured Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future), David Koechner (Semi Pro), Kevin Corrigan (American Gangster, Departed), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, Marie Antoinette), Allen Covert (Strange Wilderness), Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia, Transformers), Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield), David Krumholtz (Numb3rs). One of the more important roles, the master geek, is played by Stephen Lea Sheppard (The Royal Tenenbaums), who doesn’t act today, but you can find him as a moderator on rpg.net or read his game reviews in Vice magazine.
(the article is roughly translated from Croatian and originally published on borja.org)