Freaks and Geeks is a show made for those of us who dreaded school every day, and not just because we didn’t like maths, and were more than a little relieved to enter the next stage of our lives where cliques, bitchiness, and public humiliations were not an everyday occurrence.
The show, created in 1999 and based in an American high school in 1980, may sound like your typical cliché story of the outsiders who don’t fit into the cheerleading squad or the jocks. However, this is not the aim that Judd Apatow had in creating this too-soon-cancelled show about the nerds and drop outs. This show doesn’t focus on the upcoming prom or football game, it instead captures the wonderful everydayness of school. It does not moralise, or judge but rather shows us what we have all experienced at one point in our school careers; the desperation to fit in, to be understood and respected and to find a group that will understand and accept us as we are.
The story follows Lindsay Weir (better known in ER and Mad Men), an ex-mathlete who is struggling to re-define herself. She turns to the ‘freaks’ or as we Brits may better know them as the ‘stoners’, an equally misunderstood group of high school students made up of James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. The show also follows her younger brother and his friends, the ‘geeks’, and their struggle to balance being their nerdy selves and not be horribly bullied simultaneously. The show doesn’t have an overarching plot or any clear direction, but instead shows us the day-to-day life each character goes through, and with such naturalism you can’t help but become engrossed and invested in each one of these flawed characters as if you are another member of William McKinley High.
The show was cancelled half way through its first season because of low viewership and was only revived because of the small but loud fan base who ensured the network aired the outstanding episodes. Now with a cult following, Netflix has bought all 18 episodes allowing for excellent binge-watching material. So, if you want to relive your secondary school angst, or just watch a young James Franco pout beautifully, Freaks and Geeks is, like its characters, an alternative outsider perspective to the usual high-school films and shows that dominate Netflix.