Freaks and Geeks

Director Paul Feig appeared on a recent Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! episode. His interview led me to two discoveries: the recent chick-flick Bridesmaids, which was pretty good and the TV series Freaks and Geeks, which turned out to be brilliant.

Freaks and Geeks is a high-school drama and the series that I believe it comes closest to is The Wonder Years. The series is set in the early 80s and revolves around two groups of students: a bunch of middle school geeks and a group of high school rebels, whom the geeks call freaks. The series follows the journey of Lindsay, a top-performing math student, from geek to freak.

F&G gets really engrossing after the first couple of episodes. The portrayal of school students is probably the most true and real I have ever seen. Diverging from typical school TV series, students here are not extremely violent or evil, they are just confused. Even the freaks here are not really freaks, they are just growing into an adult world and learning to negotiate it. The series beautifully drives home the fact that the geeks, the rebels, the freaks and everyone else in school are not that different from each other.

Wrapped around such a genuine core, Paul Feig throws in episodes each of which explores one aspect of growing up. Thanks to Lindsay and Sam, we get to see two transitions in the same series: Sam growing from middle to high school, while remaining true to his geekiness, while Lindsay grows into a college adult slowly revealing her inner rebel.

The episodes are 45 minutes long and totally engrossing. The rock music of the 70s is a huge running theme in the series and used heavily in every episode. There is a lot of content online that discusses the music that appears in F&G. I discovered The Who thanks to an episode that revolves around this British rock band. The casting and actors in F&G are so perfect that they are sure to remain memorable for life. While my personal favorites are the three geeks, the freaks are now Hollywood stars: James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen.

Maybe if Freaks and Geeks had appeared on HBO now, it would have thrived and survived longer. Such a brilliant act was not well appreciated by ABC viewers in 1999 and the series was sadly dumped after the first season. Freaks and Geeks gets my recommendation as the best TV series on our experiences and journeys in high school.

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