Sometimes I just like to take a TV series on DVD and hunker down and submerge myself. Recently, that’s just what I did with Freaks and Geeks, a show about some geeky ninth graders and one’s older sister, the smartest girl in the school who is starting to hang out with the “freaks,” wild kids.
The series has attained cult status, but somehow I managed to miss it in first run. It’s the perfect type of series for this type of submersion because all 18 episodes aired in one season, 1999-2000, but it’s more nostalgic than that because it’s set in the 80s.
When I posted on Facebook that I was having a Freaks and Geeks marathon that weekend, you should have seen the joyous responses from a wide variety of my friends like “Best show ever,” “Makes me want to see it,” and quotes from particular episodes.
The series is particularly well written. It feels authentic but also manages a bit of tension. The situations are realistic and imbued with the sort of poignance and angst that runs rife in high school. This is a time when identities are formed – or simply assumed. Freaks and Geeks explores this emotional terrain with unusual dexterity.
The actors also make the show feel like “home.” Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco have gone on to establish solid careers in film and television, but it is Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir (I also loved her as the nurse “Sam” on ER) and John Francis Daley as her brother Sam Weir who are the emotional anchors of each episode.
One of the creative forces behind the series is Judd Apatow. I like this show better overall than most of his movies – especially Knocked Up, which annoyed me over gender issues – but the unexpected tenderness of The 40 Year Old Virgin has its roots in the poignance of Freaks and Geeks, and I did like the depth of Funny People, which also starred Seth Rogen.
What is it that makes me sit down and watch 18 episodes of a TV show in a short time – three days, really? I wouldn’t make a commitment like this for just any show, but it is relaxing to jump in when the series merits it…it really is like taking a break from work, and I can knit and do some paperwork or whatever while watching. Or, I can just sit there and enjoy some really fine TV.