I haven’t written even once this week (aside from those unfortunate moments when school requires me to.)
Blame it entirely on the best show to ever be put on television. Freaks and Geeks.
There’s a pattern of me going through obsessive periods of TV-watching with shows that either define my high school experience or sense of humor (see My So-Called Life and Undeclared for the former and 30 Rock and Arrested Development for the latter.) Yet, there is something about this particular program, a program that is half as old as me, that is completely transcendent of television.
Freaks and Geeks ran on NBC way back in 1999, before producer and sometimes director Judd Apatow was famous for not-quite as amazing things like Knocked Up, Superbad, 40 Year-Old Virgin, etc. You may have heard of them.
The show followed, for one cancelled short 18-episode season, the two siblings of the Weir family during the school year of 1980.
Sam Weir, the geek, was a freshman with no armpit hair and a ridiculous crush on the prettiest cheerleader in his grade. He had two friends. Neal, a oddly-confident, sometime-ventriloquist with a sense of humor a little too old for his peers. Bill, a too-tall kid with too-big classes that loved television and was quite possibly the funniest person to ever grace a Pennsylvania high school 10 years before I was born.
Lindsay Weir was the recovering geek who slowly eased her way into a new identity as one of the burn out freaks who hung out under the stairs and sat on top of their cars in the parking lot after school. She was the brilliant covert mathlete while her friends were in turn the kid who got held back for two years, the pothead with a 29-piece drum kit, the sarcastic jerk waiting for his rich father to die, and the angriest girl to ever intimidate an underdeveloped teenage boy by threatening to kiss him.
It’s been said before that the show was honest, brutal even. A lot of people already know that it was the stepping stone for actors like Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segel (Apatow picks ’em.)
But let me say, I may be 28 years removed from the god-awful, spirit-wrecking experience that was these kids in high school… Well, I guess the self-awareness in that sentence speaks volumes more than anything else I could write would say.
These freaks (I was one of the angriest and most bitter at my own high school), sitting in their basements with Rush records on full blast. They tried out the punk thing by dancing too hard and yelling too loud at sweaty back-alley shows. They tried the disco thing, awkward shiny shirts and awful attempts at rolling their hands around each other. They didn’t get any closer to truly being themselves.
These geeks (something I’ve accepted being since emulating Billy the bespectacled Blue Ranger as a kindergartner), standing awkwardly shoulder to shoulder in hallways, in lunch rooms, in kitchens. They’re the only ones who really see the world the way it is, and they’re perfectly happy with the way they see themselves. Though perpetually discussing the impossible aspirations of those freaking cheerleader girlfriends.
To clarify any questions, the real reason I’m obsessed with this show is that in the first episode one of the main freaks attempts to make out with his female friend and when she turns him down he tearfully tries to cover up his near-maul by saying that he’s a wreck because John Bonham just died.
Brilliant, sad, awesome, hilarious.
This is Bill:
This is Nick (the 29-piece drum kit guy, “Lady L” is Lindsay):