Friday, October 18, 2013

Freaks and Geeks

Throughout the history of television, there have been many series that were cancelled before they could reach their full potential. Many of these shows, such as "Firefly" and "Arrested Development,"  fail to find a broad audience upon their initial broadcasting. However, through word of mouth and praise from critics, many of these series have developed cult followings long after they originally aired. As I recently discovered, one the greatest shows to see a premature cancelation is "Freaks and Geeks."

"Freaks and Geeks" follows the life of Lindsay Weir, played by Linda Cardellini, a straight A student from a fairly conservative family. Despite her background, Lindsay begins to hang out with the "freaks", the slacker students who care more about socializing than school. The entire series focuses on Lindsay's journey of self-discovery as she attempts to balance her new personality with her old reputation. "Freaks and Geeks" also follows the story of Lindsay's brother, Sam, played by John Francis Daley. Unlike his sister, Sam is considered and geeks and has to deal with being bullied and looked down upon by others. Similar to Lindsay, "Freaks and Geeks" shows Sam trying to fit in and ultimately becoming more comfortable with himself.

What separates "Freaks and Geeks" from other shows is its incredible character development. Much like in real life, the characters are vastly different with many facets to their personalities. Such differences allow for very compelling interactions without making the show too dramatic and unrealistic, something that many other high school dramas fall victim too. Although the show only lasted for 18 episodes, this series did an amazing job of providing a compelling backstory for its characters. By doing this, even the meanest of characters became somewhat relatable. For example, Kim, played by Busy Phillipps, is shown as rude, obnoxious, and generally unlikable in the first few episodes. However, as the season progresses, we see that these actions are the result of her acting out because of her poor family life. Although Kim is mean to everyone, she really just wants a friend whom she can confide in.

In my opinion, "Freaks and Geeks" is by far the most realistic high school show ever written. Although there have been a ton of shows centered around high school, none of them have been able to replicate the quality that "Freaks and Geeks" achieved in its lone season. Most of the time, it seems like high school shows are too dramatic and the characters and largely one dimensional. As a result, it becomes hard to relate to them and they end up lacking the human element that makes "Freaks and Geeks" so special. Ultimately, the impact of "Freaks and Geeks"can be seen in the eventual career path of many of its actors. This series was a springboard for the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogan, and  Jason Segel, who are now three of the most prominent actors in Hollywood. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, it is best to appreciate the one superb season of "Freaks and Geeks" that was produced.


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