Judd Apatow can do pretty much anything in Hollywood. Make an Adam Sandler film without him doing any jokes? He can do that. Make a raunchy comedy with only female leads? Just another day at the office for Judd.
But at the turn of the millennium, there were days when Apatow wasn’t the colossus he is today. The first of his two short lived assaults on the world of TV was 1998’s Freaks and Geeks, a team up with Paul Feig and a dramatic comedy that launched several careers and laid out the genre that Apatow was soon to make his own.
Following the lives of a teenage girl Lindsay and her younger brother Sam and their exploits with their groups of high school friends in the 1980s (the Freaks And Geeks of the title), the show paints a wonderfully honest view of teenage life.
Centring on Lindsay’s fall from ‘mathlete’ and straight-A student to hanging out with troubled slackers and Sam’s desire to simply fit in, Freaks And Geeks is still, to this day, Apatow’s best work. Touching, emotional and oh so funny, Freaks And Geeks laid down a blue-print for the comedy-drama and executed Apatow’s sweet streak better than any of his films have.
Despite being critically lauded from the start and nominated for awards, Freaks and Geeks was not to get a second season from network NBC. They didn’t even show the entire series, cutting off the last three episodes, which would only be scene when it moved over to the Fox channel and then DVD.
At 18 episodes long, the show’s solitary series is more than enough time for you to fall in love with both the disengaged freaks and the sci-fi obsessed geeks just enough that you’ll just want to keep being in their company.
Freaks and Geeks single biggest impact wasn’t the quality of the show. It was how was on it. While star Linda Cardellini eventually escaped the horror that were the Scooby Doo movies to become a regular on ER, the show’s biggest success stories were three of her loser friends, James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen.
It’s a fantastic cast throughout, with Busy Phillips and Becky Ann Baker and John Francis Daley more than holding their own with their soon to be superstar contemporaries.
All set to a wonderfully soundtrack, the show manages to communicate those awkward teen years better than just about anyone else had done before or has since. Never crossing the lines to the ridiculous like Apatow’s theatrical work has been known to do, Freaks and Geeks’ constant down to Earth tone makes for a refreshing ride.
More than worthy of your time, dedicate a week’s TV to getting to know the attendees of William McKinley High (no, before you ask, not the same on the New Directions are part of) and you really won’t regret it.
Also, any show that dedicates an entire scene of its finale to Jason Segel disco dancing is absolutely essential viewing for everyone with eyes.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith