Freaks and Geeks: One Season, 17 Years of Cultural Influence

In 1999, NBC unveiled a sitcom brashly entitled Freaks and Geeks. The advertisements heavily played up the nostalgic element of the series, flashing the 1980 setting, gaudy fashions, and constant references to Star Wars. This made the program appear to be a transparent knock-off of Fox’s recent hit That ’70s Show. Meanwhile, the show’s tortured, sensitive protagonist Sam Weir (the endearingly boyish John Francis Daley) seemed like a clone of Fred Savage’s iconic Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years. The few viewers who tuned in (on the television wasteland that is Saturday evenings) saw an unusually long (one-hour) program that daringly mixed tones, from heartbreaking drama to painfully real humor.

A far cry from Dawson or Beverly Hills
A far cry from Dawson or Beverly Hills

The characters were the unabashed dweebs and druggie burn-outs of the title, and even the “pretty” actors (Linda Cardellini, James Franco) often were presented as disheveled and frumpy. While That ’70s Show paraded the glamorous Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher and The Wonder Years refused to make Kevin Arnold a complete nerd, Freaks and Geeks contained not an iota of sugarcoating. Rather than the snappy, self-contained 25-minute story lines of the former programs, each carefully crafted episode of Freaks and Geeks was intricately plotted with highly developed characters. With these audience-unfriendly elements, is it all that surprising that the show was canceled after a mere 18 episodes? At the tail end of a decade full of iconic, homogenized high school hits ranging from Saved By The Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210 to Dawson’s Creek, an authentic portrayal of the ardors of adolescence was considered anathema by studio executives, and presumably, potential viewers.

16 years after the series’ demise, it is clear that its influence far transcends its duration. The careers of executive producer Judd Apatow and creator Paul Feig have skyrocketed in the world of film comedy. Apatow has directed a slew of hits, from The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up to 2015’s acclaimed Trainwreck. As writer and producer, he has served as a virtual one-man production company, responsible for such successes as SuperBad, Pineapple Express, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, most of them starring alumni of the once-scorned TV series (Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr among them). Feig has helped bring female-dominated comedy to the forefront, with Bridesmaids, Spy, and the recent all-female Ghostbusters reboot. The show’s emphasis on geek culture has likewise spawned the likes of The Big Bang Theory and Silicon Valley. Despite lasting a mere single season, Freaks and Geeks ultimately altered the cultural landscape nearly as much as long-running classics The Simpsons and Seinfeld.

Origins of a Cult Classic

Before the creation of Freaks and Geeks, neither Apatow nor Feig had garnered much success in their attempts at Hollywood fame and fortune. Apatow was a failed stand-up comedian who saw his former roommate Adam Sandler go onto Saturday Night Live and film superstardom. Apatow co-wrote the critically acclaimed 1992 series The Ben Stiller Show, only for it to get axed after 12 episodes (and then win an Emmy after its cancellation). Feig was a struggling independent filmmaker, trying in vain for his low-budget directorial debut Life Sold Separately to get noticed. The latter decided to mine bruising laughter from the angst of his adolescence in suburban Detroit during the dawn of the Reagan years. Feig was appalled by the unrealistic television hits depicting beautiful preppy teenagers pouting for the camera to jangly, upbeat “alternative” rock. Seeking to capture the trials and tribulations of the outcasts who never were invited to prom (or even wanted to go in the first place), Feig joined forces with Apatow to shed a light on character types rarely seen on mainstream television.

1992's The Ben Stiller Show, years before the actor's stardom, was the first failed TV Series for Judd Apatow
1992’s The Ben Stiller Show, years before the actor’s stardom, was the first failed TV Series for Judd Apatow

As noted in Vanity Fair’s revelatory “Oral History,” the prospects of the program, even after being picked up by NBC, were star-crossed from the outset. The network was smarting from the exit of its ratings juggernaut Seinfeld, and were perhaps looking for another funny crossover hit. Ironically, Seinfeld was similarly an idiosyncratic program that failed to attract viewership in its initial seasons. If the same execs overlooking Freaks and Geeks were in charge of Seinfeld, it is likely that it too would have been canceled after one season.

NBC head honchos balked at the deliberate pacing, quirky characters, and refusal to end each episode on a superficial high note. One executive noted the lack of “a victory” for the characters, and lamented that it clashed with his upbringing in a wealthy private high school. The network pressed Feig and Apatow to inject guest stars such as pop phenom Britney Spears in order to boost ratings, but they both adamantly refused.

In the casting, however, it was clear Feig and Apatow hit the jackpot. From the assured, effortlessly multi-faceted Cardellini as the brainy, conflicted Lindsay Weir to the indelible Samm Levine and the aforementioned Starr, the cast was made up of refreshingly life-size approximations of American teenagers. Franco and Segel radiated, respectively, deadpan bad-boy charisma and awkward, energetic sincerity. Rogen’s Saltine-dry sarcasm and Busy Philipps’ tough-girl defiance similarly upended decades of bland teenage characters on television. Although their tenure on Freaks and Geeks was short-lived, it was clear that the talent manifested on the program would continue to shimmer in Hollywood for quite some time.

The Uniqueness- and Universality- of Freaks and Greeks

Despite NBC’s trepidation, Freaks and Geeks indeed aired on the network in the fall of 1999. The opening seconds of the pilot episode (directed by future Hollywood filmmaker Jake Kasdan, son of Body Heat and The Big Chill director Lawrence) ape the style of Dawson and its ilk; an achingly earnest cheerleader and her hulking football player boyfriend emote to the sound of sub-R.E.M. guitar rock. Suddenly, the camera whisks away from this familiar scene to the pounding strains of Van Halen’s “Runnin’ With The Devil,” revealing the true heroes of the show, smoking marijuana underneath the bleachers. Although far from unprecedented, (see the famous “getting high in the basement” sequences on That ’70s Show), the grungy attire and appearance of the motley crew subverted the typical clean-cut telegenic teenager found on nearly every other program.

The “geeks,” however, introduced to the tune of the Caddyshack theme “I’m Alright,” were out of step from the common depiction of nerds on American television. Goofy and obsessed with pop culture, the Geeks were not the chemistry-and-telescope variety of brainiacs which decades of archetypes had perpetuated. By the time the head geek Sam’s confident, independent sister Lindsay steps in, it is clear that the show is presenting real human beings, not market tested, interchangeable “types.”

At first, the adult characters appear stereotypical and broadly drawn. The Weirs’ parents, maternal, blandly sweet Jean (Becky Ann Baker) and hectoring, hysterical Harold (the excellent character actor Joe Flaherty) are classic sitcom types, even if they ring true to many teens’ perceptions of their parents. Yet through the course of the 18-episode season, each parental figure deepens in complexity and nuance. Similarly, such characters as the stern mathematics teacher Mr. Kowchevksi and sneering, dunderheaded Coach Fredericks (Back to The Future’s Biff himself, Tom Wilson) reveal surprising layers through the course of the (remarkably brief) series.

Tom Wilson's gym teacher is at first as obnoxious as the legendary Biff, but he grows in sympathy through the series
Tom Wilson’s gym teacher is at first as obnoxious as the legendary Biff, but he grows in sympathy through the series

This is true for the main characters as well; Kim (Busy Philipps) at first seem like a monstrous, sadistic bully, while her partner Daniel (Franco) seems like a disaffected, leather-jacketed underachiever. Each character subverts these attributes through the course of the brief series. The scope of both the program’s character development and zigzagging story-lines anticipates the ambition of cable television in the 2000s, from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad. The fact that Freaks and Geeks managed to do this on NBC, and in the lowly “sitcom” format, is a testament to the subtle innovations of the writing and directing.

Akin to the now-legendary record collection of Sopranos creator David Chase, one unforgettable aspect of Freaks and Geeks was its unparalleled period soundtrack. Although That 70’s Show boasted credibility in its choice of the Big Star nugget “In The Street” as its official theme song, (albeit in a relatively bland Cheap Trick cover), the program did not contain an extensive soundtrack. Conversely, Freaks and Geeks is wall-to-wall with expertly chosen period tunes, in a manner similar to cinematic masterpieces like Goodfellas or Boogie Nights. The music was not merely tossed in as an after-thought, either, and often songs were as integral to the action as the characters. Whether it is Styx’ “Come Sail Away” accompanying the pilot’s closing prom sequence, Billy Joel’s “Rosalinda’s Eyes” swaying to the sight of the lovelorn Sam’s affections, or Black Flag’s “Rise Above” passionately articulating Daniel’s frustrations, the soundtrack was instrumental to the program’s effectiveness- and singularity.

The dilemmas in the previously noted 1990s sitcoms may have been catnip for impressionable viewers, but they were not exactly realistic or relatable for the average American adolescent. Where the conflicts in these mostly Southern California-set series consist of what cute guy to ask to the beach or which cheerleader to date, the small-town Michigan setting of Freaks and Geeks led to drama that was decidedly more mundane- and authentic. Like most teenagers, the heroes of Feig and Apatow’s creation were not lining up to date the student body’s most desirable and available. The geeks of the title were indeed just that, and not in the charming fashion of That ’70s Show’s Eric Foreman or Saved by The Bell’s Screech.

Cindy Sanders: Perfect Woman-Or is She?
Cindy Sanders: Perfect Woman-Or is She?

Sam’s obsessive crush on disarmingly sweet cheerleader Cindy (Natasha Melnick) seems utterly hopeless, and when it appears to amount to something tangible, the dark side of human nature rears its ugly head. Far more than the aforementioned teen shows, Freaks and Geeks portrayed a warts-and-all view of relationships, high school and otherwise. Whether it is Nick (a brilliant Segel)’s disturbingly awkward courtship of Lindsey, Dan and Kim’s tenuous relationship, or even the flawed, decades-strong union of the Weirs, Feig and Apatow reveal interpersonal relationships in all their complexity and humanity.

This extends to the friendships in the program as well. As the series begins, Lindsay transitions from the world of the brainiac, Mathlete geeks to the alienated, pot-smoking outcasts. This transition perturbs her longtime friend, the devoutly religious Millie (yet again a character who starts off stereotypical and ends the series as multi-dimensional). Despite this clash of these disparate high school tribes, Lindsay manages to maintain friendships with the polar opposite Millie and Kim, as tumultuous as these relations are. Similarly, the tight bond of the geek triumvirate is tested in the episode “Kim Kelly is My Friend,” as the pals battle over who is the arch geek (to the strains of Steve Martin’s “King Tut”).

Contrasting with the vapid tales of gorgeous preps in Beverly Hills 90210 or Dawson’s Creek, the dilemmas portrayed in Freaks and Geeks are stunningly authentic and ultimately universal. One does not have to identify as a nerd or a burnout in order to relate to the situations in each tightly written episode. Struggling with parental expectations, navigating the treacherous waters of romantic relationships, and grappling with identity in the relentlessly conformist monotony of high school are all touched upon in a fashion that is as moving as it is bitingly funny. Far more than yet another nostalgic teen sitcom, Freaks and Geeks is a kaleidoscopic portrait of the ups and downs of human existence, despite being confined to a secondary school setting.

The Show’s Demise- and Lasting Influence

As aforementioned, the show’s cancellation was essentially written in stone when the show was slated to air on Saturday evenings- and the show’s ratings paled in comparison to its chief competition Cops. The full 18-episode run did not even air on NBC; the final five episodes were instead relegated to the cable channel Fox (now ABC) Family. Despite the measly ratings and the network’s apathy, a small but rabidly loyal fan base placed an ad in Hollywood’s most influential magazine Variety, declaring “Save Our Freaks.” The entire series aired at New York City’s Museum of Television and Radio, to sold-out crowds. Despite the ever-present threat of cancellation, Apatow and Feig devised a Season Two finale which would have begun with Lindsay passing out at a Grateful Dead concert. Instead, Cardellini appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, only to discover on the way to the taping that the program had officially been axed by NBC.

In 2001, Apatow created Undeclared, a slightly more conventional 30-minute program about college, featuring Rogen and Segel. The show contained the same combination of hilarity and achingly real drama, but presented in a hipper, glossier package. A victim of bad timing once again, the program had the misfortune of airing right after 9/11; a seemingly inconsequential comedy about university life was the last thing on Americans’ minds. Soon, however, it was clear that the program’s legacy was more substantial than expected.

A far less freaky Jason Segel starred for nine seasons on "How I Met Your Mother."
A far less freaky Jason Segel starred for nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother.

In 2004, Shout! Factory released a lovingly assembled box-set of the entire series, complete with 29 commentary tracks, two of them featuring fans of the program. The following year, Apatow achieved film success with the acclaimed box-office smash The 40-Year Old Virgin, featuring Rogen in a major role. Also that year, Segel starred on How I Met Your Mother, a show that would eventually last nine seasons. Franco had achieved previous success in the Spider-Man series as Harry Osborn, and would continue to alternate comedic productions (Pineapple Express, The Interview) with higher-minded “prestige” projects (127 Hours and Milk, the former of which garnered the actor an Oscar nomination). Meanwhile, Feig achieved critical acclaim and box-office gold with his 2011 studio directorial debut, Bridesmaids, and racked up further female-centric comedic hits with the subsequent The Heat and Spy. This desire to portray strong female characters is natural and inevitable for the creator of such multi-faceted female characters as Lindsay Weir and Kim Kelly.

Beyond the prolific filmographies of many of the series’ alumni, the show’s content influenced a plethora of subsequent works. The “geek culture” aspect of the program was nearly unprecedented (with the exception of the 80s cult classic Revenge of the Nerds), but in the years since, the hit TV programs mined a similar premise, with Big Bang Theory and Silicon Valley focusing the microscope on socially stunted male nerds (the latter even co-stars Starr). The emphasis on awkward humor, and an overall unconventional approach to the sitcom, has similarly exploded in recent years, as evidenced from shows ranging from The Office and Arrested Development to Curb Your Enthusiasm and Girls (the latter also produced by Apatow). As Apatow and Feig acknowledged, the once-dismal ratings of Freaks and Geeks would make the show a small-scale hit today. More importantly, the contemporary landscape is more accepting of quirky programs that combine genres and shed a light on previously neglected subcultures. If the show premiered within the last few years, it is highly likely that it would be still be going strong.

The cast gathered more than a decade later
The cast gathered more than a decade later

Despite its brevity, this short-lived, neglected television show has proven to be one of the most influential and innovative of its era, and a variety of acclaimed series (not to mention lucrative film careers) owe their existence to a series that lasted eighteen episodes and faced a sea of apathy.


Hassenger, Jesse. “‘Freaks and Geeks’ Neither Glorifies or Demonizes Weed,” The A.V. Club, 2016.

Lloyd, Robert. ” 2 Good 2 Be Forgotten: An Oral History of ‘Freaks and Geeks’,” Vanity Fair, 2013.

Vineyard, Jennifer. “An Oral History of The Nerdier Half of ‘Freaks and Geeks,'” Vulture, 2015.

Vukcevic, Filip, “Review of The Complete Freaks and Geeks” IGN, 2004.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
Contributing writer for The Artifice.

Want to write about TV or other art forms?

Create writer account


  1. I actually watched this while it was on the air, and I preached its genius to everyone I knew. NO ONE BELIEVED ME THEN, but they all loooooove it now. Maybe if they had listened, we’d have more than one season and we wouldn’t be subjected to Seth Rogen movies quite yet.

    • I was right there with you, preaching its awesomeness when it was first on, Zill. Hadn’t seen it again since it originally aired, but I got the box set for the wife for Christmas & we’ve started re-watching it. A colleague of mine said, “It’s even better than you remember.” He was right. A truly great show. If I didn’t have a job & kids, I’d have re-watched ’em all several times by now, instead of just having gotten through the first half dozen or so. Stupid priorities.

    • Totally agree here. Championed it at the time; recognized the settings (grew up a couple miles away from Clinton Twp), the characters, and some of the story lines. One of my favorite heartbreaking moments was the three geeks riding around clicking the mysterious garage door remote only to find evidence of a parent’s infidelity. Something similar happened in my household, and the scene really rang true. One of my favorite shows of all time.

    • I was in 9th grade in 1998 when this first came out, and I knew I wanted to watch it from the beginning. And I did, and I was sad when it got cut, and it was like Christmas when I found out it was coming out on DVD. I am still a shameless Freaks and Geeks promoter.

    • I didn’t catch it at all when it aired, but I netflicked it, THEN I ended up buying the set. Possibly one of the reasons it’s so loved is because it was cancelled – but, like Firefly, the short season, with beginning, middle and conclusion, make it a wonderful show to watch in just a few hours.

      I loved West Wing, but it took me months to get through it on netflix – F&G, and Firefly, I can watch in a weekend.

      I’m a completist bastard, and I can’t watch random eps of either – I have to start from the beginning..

  2. Saw the first couple of episodes when they first showed it on Irish t.v. (about 1999-2000) and got instantly hooked. They showed a few episodes at 7p.m. on Monday and then, for some inexplicable reason moved it to 3a.m. on Wednesday. I still have vivid memories of setting my alarm for 2.55, getting up, pressing record on my VCR, going back to sleep, getting up a few hours later for school, and then rushing home afterward to watch it. Totally worth it! Excellent show.

  3. SomeTake

    Maybe it Was The Title…
    Maybe the reason that this amazing show — so full of heart, humour, smarts and utterly relatable characters — never resonated with America was the title.

    While “Freaks and Geeks” perfectly describes the major factions of the show, perhaps it was a turn-off for people who preferred their TV shows to have more blah titles.

    Either that, or people were just sick of high school shows in 1999.

    • I think the reason it didn’t survive was that other show about high school in the late 70’s that started at around the same time. Only one of them could survive. Same thing with 30 Rock and studio something on the sunset something.

      But, yeah names matter too.

  4. Good stuff, and a beautifully, painfully honest show about adolescence.

    Also, a really good examination about Outsiders versus Insiders and what it means to be both of those groups and what happens to people who move between those groups. Funny sociology? Yes, please.

  5. I really enjoyed watching this show, and I still try to catch reruns when they air. It captures the painful beauty of adolescence well. While it didn’t last as long as it should have, it still had a great run.

  6. kaseyshaw

    I remember watching this. So amazing – really encapsulated my youth.

  7. Great article. I do agree with what you said about how Freaks and Geeks lacked a lot of modern day elements such as Britney Spears, but I think there’s one instance where Freaks and Geeks was culturally relevant: Lindsay’s characterization. Lindsay is a character who epitomizes the teen angst of the 90s. Sure, the show takes place in 1980, but Lindsay’s personality fits in with the teen angst motif of the 90s. And if that motif died by then, Daria (which aired 1997-2002), a show which also has an angsty protagonist, would be irrelevant at the time as well.

  8. Love this article – in high school we watched some episodes of Freaks and Geeks for our creative writing class. It’s interesting to think about how our viewing interests have changed, and whether or not we want out tv to accurately portray reality.

  9. Lauren Mead

    Great article! I’m a big fan of this show.

  10. Very nice, well-researched article.

    I enjoyed the show the first time I saw it. Admittedly, I didn’t see it until I was in college and the DVDs came out. Saturday nights in high school were movie nights for me. If only my friends and I had tuned in…

  11. Such a great show.

  12. Beckman

    My favorite scenes were always the one where the freaks and geeks grudgingly came together, like when Sam and Ken have the meeting in the bathroom before Sam breaks up with Cindy Sanders, or in the last episode when Daniel joins the Dungeons & Dragons group. I love seeing the two groups kind of figuring each other out.

  13. My mother actually introduced me to F&G, and we both agreed that Bill was exactly like one of my friends from high school. In fact, a lot of the characters reminded me of folks from my high school days. Maybe the rest of America didn’t have friends like that and that’s why the show never caught on.

  14. finally watched this show last year, and it really freaked me out a few episodes in when I realized that Bill would grow up to be the guy growing the beard in Knocked Up.

  15. Stallworth

    I loved this show when it was first being aired, but the rescheduling killed it as much as the too-real emotional honesty. Some of the episodes were also aired out of order, so the continuity was messed up. They ran it on ABC Family for a while too (I think–or was it the Family Channel?).

    I actually was prepared to dislike this show when I saw the first ads for it: patronising title, scenes emphasizing the nerdiness of the character. I really thought it was going to be “Revenge of the Nerds: the Series.” Fortunately, that was not the case, but the network really handled this one badly (unless they were deliberately sandbagging it, in which case they handled it perfectly).

  16. In just one short season, every single character on this show was fully developed. Even its protagonists are portrayed as inherently flawed individuals, teaching its viewers that no one is free of imperfection. The complexity of this succinct series is something that will never cease to impress me.

  17. My old roommate bought it sight unseen, and we watched the whole thing over the course of a week. It’s great, and obvious that it would never find an audience, because there’s not a sassy little kid and John Cryer.

    • Yeah, and teenagers who actually look like their age, many of whom are unattractive, and fairly realistic things happen to them. It was doomed from the beginning on American TV.

  18. I just watched the series a few months ago. I liked it, but it was a little too accurate in its portrayal of High School. As someone who actually didn’t hate HS that much, I found myself annoyed by the characters. Yeah, they’re typical HS stereotypes, but HS students ARE stereotypes, forced to be by the crushing pressure to conform. The cast all did a really good job acting like HS douches, which I imagine wasn’t much of a stretch for most of them. I loved the last episode, though, when the guidance counselor turns her on to American Beauty.

  19. Sasha Kohan

    It’s so hard to believe that this was ever considered unsuccessful, given the insane amount of people who would easily deem it a TV classic at this point in time. Clearly well-researched piece–nice to read something about a beloved series by someone who obviously knows their history.

  20. Rory Christie

    Freaks and Geeks is great. While it was cut down early I feel like they did a great job of wrapping it up, to the point where I’m glad it ended when it did. I like the fact that Sam ended up actually getting the girl he wanted (who was definitely crush-worthy) and she turned out to be a total lunatic. And him throwing his toys at the beginning of the series is fucking heartbreaking.

  21. Watched it years after the fact on Netflix DVDs
    Didn’t understand what the fuss was all about.

    Maybe you had to be there, at the first, to get it.

  22. I completely agree. Freaks and Geeks is a cult classic that represents a specific genre of angst and youth in America. Though short lived, it will forever be one of my favorites!

  23. What I love about Freaks and Geeks the most is that it’s just more proof that Thomas F. Wilson is an amazing actor. Go Coach!

  24. ProtoCanon

    This might just be one of the best articles I’ve read on this site to date. Thorough knowledge of the subject matter, demonstrative of strong critical thinking, and great skill in writing and rhetoric. A worthy analysis of a fantastic show. You’ve made me want to go re-watch it right now (not that I really needed the excuse). Well done.

  25. I started watching this when it first aired. Toward the end it seemed like they kept changing the schedule around without warning so I ended up missing some of the episodes.

  26. I watched this show back in the Fall of 99. I had just graduated HS that spring but was intrigued by the title of the show, since it seemed to describe my teenage years as both a weirdo hippy and a member of the National Honor Society. I think the problem with the show was that it really did not resonate with a lot of people because, believe it or not, the majority of people belong(ed) to the cool caste in HS and the freaks and geeks are a minority. I agree with your assertion that this show would have blossomed on cable but alas it was not meant to be. I still have my DVDs somewhere and it’s one of the only TV shows I go back to watch every year or so. It’s just that good.

    The episode where Daniel plays D&D with the geeks is pure genius.

  27. Jacque Venus Tobias

    Thanks for writing about this show, I find it interesting how some of the actors in the early part of their career.

  28. Giovana Picone

    Shamefully I have only just binge-watched the whole series after it being added onto Netflix, and I am genuinely disappointed that I have only now just discovered this programme. I loved it and was so upset when it was left as it was with no further seasons! I keep telling everyone they need to watch. Loved the points and insights of this article.

  29. I think my magic “I love this and I have to watch it” moment was the first time I saw Martin Starr. The whole cast either made me smile or broke my heart, sometimes simultaneously, but Haverchuck was always king.

  30. i thoroughly enjoyed freaks and geeks but i think much of it’s cult status is down to the fact that it was cancelled.

  31. awesome article! this show is so iconic

  32. What is so significant about the series is that it still resonates with people today. I watched it for the first time last year when I was a senior in high school, and every feeling of being a teenager is encapsulated perfectly.

  33. Tigey

    Good stuff. The title reminds me of the quote about the Velvet Underground’s first album: It may have only sold a thousand copies, but everyone who the album started their own band.

  34. As disappointing and inopportune as the show’s cancellation may have seemed, the brevity and lack of closure the season amounts to, in itself, does justice to the show. This show remains as relatable and relevant as it was back in the 90’s. Freaks and Geeks, capturing the essence of a the bitter-sweet high school experience, is produced in such a way that alludes to it never becoming a hackneyed show with spin-offs and catch-phrases. Each of the episodes felt with everyday hardship and youthful escapades, never taking dramatic leaps or non-sequitur twists. Because the lessons we learn growing up and the situations we encounter develop slowly due to series of events or decisions we involve ourselves in, this show followed this pattern. I am afraid to say that if this show were have had to continue, it would loose all that made it unique and influential. Eventually, all television shows fall to the disease of greed and demand caused by ratings and marketing. The writers would have to slowly sacrifice the morals and intentions behind the iconic drama to make quotas and stay relevant in today’s fast paced world. As high school is a short time in our lives often lacking a great culmination of all we have learned and all we have met, Freaks and Geeks leaves us with questions for the future and an incomplete understanding of the past.

  35. I still think this is one of the most relatable a show has ever been to the teenage experience.

  36. Emily Holter

    This show changed my life, I swear!!

  37. Watching this show just last year, its influence on popular culture still today is undeniable. From the style, the plots, and the approach, this sitcom style show has reached and impacted hundreds of later productions.

  38. I was looking for something new to watch on night last year and found this in my recommendations on Netflix. Probably watched it in less than two days. I really loved this and it was totally unappreciated. Would have loved to see where this would have gone in more than one season.

  39. I loved this show, I was so sad it was only 1 season and left us all wit ha cliff hanger and that it never got revived, such as shame that a show with such realistic relate-able characters was axed.

  40. No matter how many times I’ve watched this show it is still retable to any experience, even though it is set in a high school backdrop. This article confirmed why I loved it so much and it’s realistic questioning of human nature. The need to be liked, why there are bullies, why is the beautiful girl I feel in love with superficial etc. That last one was easy to see but it takes many mistakes to discern between the real and the fake.

  41. Great article for a beautiful show. Whenever I watch it I consider how we might have been robbed of more or whether its brevity added to its prestige. Probably the most realistic high-school representation (regarding relationships) that I have seen.

  42. Stephanie M.

    A thought-provoking article reminding us why one-season wonders matter; thanks. I was a little young for F&G when it came out, but now I want to look it up, as it’s the kind of show my teen self might have been drawn to. As a final note, have you considered doing articles on similarly short-lived shows? For example, I loved the Stan Rogow sitcom State of Grace, but it only ran for two seasons. I miss it to this day.

  43. Too good for it’s time

  44. As a contra, Freaks and Geeks for all of the claims of its realism and awkwardness seems to have inspired the opposite in the television shows that it has influenced: an absurdist surrealism.

  45. This show was way ahead of its time. It was incredibly relatable in every way, captured the essence of the era and of course, we can’t forget the amazing soundtrack. I still think of F&G when Styx comes on.

Leave a Reply