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10 Things I Learned From 'Freaks and Geeks'

by Chris Harnick, posted Jul 8th 2010 5:20PM
Freaks and Geeks
It's been 10 years since 'Freaks and Geeks' ended (the finale aired July 8, 2000). The last we saw of Lindsay Weir she was heading off into the sunset with her Deadhead classmates.

Looking back at the show, it's evident that the short-lived series had a pretty profound impact on pop culture. Not only did the show give viewers a closer look stars-in-the-making Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segel, but it also showcased some great music. There was something for everybody in 'Freaks and Geeks' and its themes still resonate today as much as they did 10 years ago.

I learned a lot from the series, particularly that I wasn't alone in some of my adolescent feelings. This series proved to be a friend to everybody who watched, yours truly included.

Without further sentimentality, I present the 10 things I learned from 'Freaks and Geeks' in no particular order ...

1. Oversized green army jackets don't look good on everybody.
Sure, Lindsay Weir could pull it off (see image above), but this is one fashion trend I'm happy that's not still around.

2. Parisian night suits also don't look good on everybody.
Sorry, Sam, but you had it coming.

3. James Franco is a great actor.
'Freaks and Geeks' gave audiences the first real taste of Franco's range. How genuine was it when he played 'Dungeons and Dragons' with Sam, Neil and Bill in 'Discos and Dragons'? More important is Franco's performance in 'Tests and Breasts.' Lindsay gets the full taste of Daniel's manipulation powers and they work on her, but when he pulls out the "track 3" story a second time she can't keep it together.

4. Allison Jones is a casting god.
Jones served as the casting director for the series and together with Jill Greenberg and Coreen Mayrs, won an Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series. The award was deserved as she brought together one of the most charming and realistic casts in television. Besides the main cast, we were treated to awesome guest stars such as Rashida Jones, Joanna Garcia, Shia LaBeouf, Lizzy Caplan, and Kevin Tighe. Jones went on to shape 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'The Office' and 'United States of Tara' among other projects. Below is a scene with Shia LaBeouf and Joanna Garcia.

5. People -- especially teens -- will think they're drunk no matter the alcohol content of their beer.
Episode 2, 'Beers and Weirs' is probably my favorite episode of the series. I was 12 when it aired -- yes, I'm young, but I still appreciate quality TV -- and I identified so much with Sam and his friends. To this day, I still want to switch a keg on somebody and see what happens. The placebo effect has been proven, so the show wasn't just being outrageous. Can you forget Bill getting trashed while watching 'Dallas,' or Millie and Nick singing 'Jesus Is Just Alright'? Didn't think so.

6. Even the freaks are geeks.
Being the geek I was am, I took great pleasure in seeing Daniel sit down with Sam and the geeks to play D&D in the episode 'Discos and Dragons.' Carlos the Dwarf has a nice ring to it. The scene really humanized Daniel, but it also helped flesh out the geeks a little more at the same time. Freaks can be geeks!

7. Girls fart.
The episode 'Girlfriends and Boyfriends' confirmed something that I had long been suspicious of: Girls fart too! Yes, most blame it on a chair like Cindy did, or a dog, or on somebody else in the room. This was one of the first times I remember a girl farting on TV. In fact, how many "live-action" shows feature farts? Not many.

8. You can be too old to go trick-or-treating.

Another favorite, 'Tricks and Treats' had some really great character moments for the Weirs. From Lindsay egging Sam -- that moment still makes me gasp -- to the interaction between Lindsay and her mother. The last time anybody goes out trick-or-treating is usually not fun, but my last time out was no where near as sucky as Sam's. Not only that, but I still worry about disappointing my parents when they bring up a family tradition I'm not into anymore, it's a moment almost everybody can relate to and it was done so well in this episode.

9. There will never be as great a guidance counselor as Mr. Rosso.
Sorry to those guidance counselors out there -- including TV ones such as Emma Pillsbury and Buffy Summers -- but, Mr. Rosso is the best counselor out there. Hot dog, he understands!

10. Cliffhanger endings SUCK.
Don't get me wrong, I love a good cliffhanger ... when I get a resolution. The series finale of 'Freaks and Geeks' wasn't the biggest cliffhanger, but I am still dying to know what happened to the characters. That's a testament to how good of a series it was. After 10 years I am still waiting to know what happened to Lindsay while she followed the Grateful Dead on tour.

Itching to learn from 'Freaks and Geeks' as well? The series is now airing on IFC, Fri. at 11PM.

Tell us: What did you learn from 'Freaks and Geeks'?

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Marta McKim

When my daughter and I watched the series on DVD, she got to the last episode before me. She told me, "Mom, you are gonna be SO MAD when you see the last episode!!"
"Why? what happens?"
she replied, "Because its the last one! There are no more! It's OVER!"

I'd have to agree with her.

February 09 2011 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One of the best shows. I've been watching them on dvd with my sister and her boyfriend. I'm so sad I'm almost through with them though.

January 07 2011 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

amazing show, i bought the the entire 6 disc season and have re-watched so many episodes. I recommend buying it!

January 01 2011 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am in my mid-fifties and I LOVED this show. It was off by about a decade from my high school years, but still so true! So sweetly nostalgic, great music, wonderful characters like so many kids I knew. I got the DVD set and encouraged my 18 year old son and all his friends to watch. Its ageless and I too want to know where everyone ended up.

By the way, our high school guidance counselor actually gave us a key to the school so we could get in on a weekend to pull off our senior prank! He never got caught, and neither did we! 70's guidance counselors and teachers could be very cool!

July 14 2010 at 8:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sex and the City actually did an episode where Carrie farts in bed with Big...Its actually one of the funniest moments ever on the show

July 09 2010 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can't add much more other than you are not allowed into heaven withour experiencing this show. Not that I'm hyperbolic, just have inside info.

July 08 2010 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Freaks and Geeks is the best show ever. I watch it over and over again on DVD--it never gets old. It's so crazy that most of these stars are now hit Hollywood movies, whether their roles were big or small. Like Martin, who ended up on Knocked Up as the crazy Jesus beard friend.
Linda Cardellini has a new movie coming out with big-name actors like Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer and Vinnie Jones, called, THE IRISHMAN. If you're interested in it, check out a ton of video clips from the movie at MovieSet.com: http://bit.ly/dcrmkv Enjoy!

July 08 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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