Freaks and Geeks was a short-lived television series that ran on NBC from 1999-2000, with a mere 18 episodes. The show introduced viewers to the Weirs, a typical American family—mom stays at home to raise the two kids, and dad owns a local sporting goods store. The kids, Lindsay and Sam, are both teenagers attending the same high school. Sam is a freshman. He and his friends, Neal and Bill, are the geeks of the show. Lindsay, a former geek, has just started transitioning to the freak group, becoming friendly with Daniel, Kim, Nick and Ken.
Part comedy and part drama, Freaks and Geeks portrays your typical high school experiences: Sam is in love with cheerleader Cindy Sanders, who is dating a football player. Lindsay is interested in Daniel, who’s dating Kim, while Nick finds Lindsay attractive. Neal, Bill, and Sam are all targets of bullying on a regular basis. Lindsay and Sam are chronically embarrassed by their “square” parents. Lindsay’s former geeky BFF, Millie, doesn’t understand why Lindsay has changed and still hangs around trying to resuscitate their friendship, while Lindsay is desperately trying to change her image and fit in with the freaks. Although the teenage drama sounds cheesy, the show doesn’t portray it that way. These are “coming of age” storylines with which anyone can identify.
The show’s backdrop of late 1970s culture—the clothes, cars, and music—will send Gen Xers on a trip down memory lane. One of my favorite episodes, “Tricks and Treats,” has Bill dressed as the Bionic Woman for Halloween. In the last episode, Nick is found dancing in a disco competition, which earns him endless teasing by the other freaks.
It’s unfortunate that NBC canceled the series after one season. The show was never able to fully develop the storylines it introduced and viewers were merely given a glimpse into the characters’ lives. Nevertheless, Freaks and Geeks deserves a chance in everyone’s DVD player.
Check the WRL catalog for Freaks and Geeks