Still, even a decade after its demise, Freaks
and Geeks remains the most realistic portrayal of high school life in TV history.
Because it ended so fast, the series never had the chance to be
corrupted by longevity, let alone malevolent network execs. In that
sense, it's a miracle.
Every episode contains dozens of
"I think that's where all the comedy in life is," Feig said. "It's
cathartic remembering that stuff." The scene in which Lindsay Weir is
warned by her father about having sex is a good example of this. Harold
Weir tells his daughter about the time he lost his virginity to a
prostitute during the Korean War. "I wish," he says, "I could get that
five dollars back." Feig said he had to be "sequestered far from the
set" when the scene was being filmed because he couldn't keep himself
from laughing. He had the same problem while shooting the scene in
which the attractive, mild-mannered Cindy Sanders blames a fart on a
vinyl seat. "Stupid chair!" she says. "It always does that."
can relate. In fact, Feig still hears from parents whose children are
discovering Freaks and Geeks. Feig said feedback usually can be boiled
down to this: My kid was really afraid of starting high school. The
show helped him relax. Now he knows what to expect.
"If it means
nothing else to people, it's a primer," said Feig, a Michigan native
who based many of the show's characters on friends and acquaintances
from his own childhood. "[It's] 'Here, watch this. This is what it's
going to be like. This is what's coming. Don't let it destroy you the
way it can.'"
And the cult of Freaks and Geeks is still growing.
It has almost 120,000 "likes" on one Facebook page. The DVD set is
ranked No. 571 on Amazon's bestseller list.
(There are 333—out of 362 total—five-star customer reviews.) And new
people seem to be drawn to the show every day. My brother, a Spanish
teacher at a boarding school in Maryland, showed the DVDs to some of
his students last spring. They loved it.
"It's so cool to have something that's over 10 years old mean so much," said Feig, who among other projects, has written two memoirs and directed episodes of Arrested Development, The Office and Nurse Jackie, and most recently, the movie Bridesmaids, a romantic comedy that's scheduled to be released next May. "That's why you get into this business."
course, the Freaks and Geeks primer has largely been ignored by
Hollywood. Producers seem more interested in populating their fictional
high schools with absurdly attractive young men and women who were
nothing like the kids I grew up with. It doesn't always work. For every
Gossip Girl—now in its fourth season—there's a My Generation. The flashback-heavy series, which centers on a group of classmates 10 years after they've graduated, lasted two episodes before ABC canceled it this month. The premise was interesting, the characters were not.