Sometimes good things aren’t meant to last.
One of those good things is the show “Freaks and Geeks,” arguably the greatest show to grace our screens for just one season. It’s no secret the show has achieved legendary status, but I’ve been given the chance to rant about it so I’m taking it.
Paul Feig and Judd Apatow — a duo that’s arguably too powerful for any single piece of media to handle — were the geniuses behind “Freaks and Geeks.”
Chances are if you’ve seen any classic comedy from the 2000s, one of those two were behind it. Between the two of them, they’ve had a hand in “Superbad,” “Step Brothers,” several seasons of “The Office” and a good chunk of “Arrested Development.” It’s no surprise bringing these two together would make for a great show — but they can’t take all the credit.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the soundtrack (which is also the reason it took so long to get on streaming services). The Who, Cheap Trick, Billy Joel, Rush and a blissful amount of Van Halen all help set the scene of this high school drama. Even Little River Band gets a moment to shine.
In terms of greatness, though, the soundtrack is only surpassed by the cast. It’s a who’s who list of comedic celebrities from the early 2000s and everyone knocks it out of the park.
Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segal are some of the names you might recognize as the “freaks” while Martin Starr, John Francis Daley and Samm Levine are the “geeks,” and the two sides split screen time pretty evenly. Their storylines weave in and out smoothly, each advancing the other side’s suburban Detroit adventures.
Not a single performance is lackluster, which helps make every character likeable. Through a strange turn of events, even the seemingly stereotypical gym teacher Mr. Fredericks — played by Tom Wilson, who you likely know as Biff Tannen from “Back to the Future” — is impossible to dislike by the end of the series.
If any other show gave every character a redemption arc, it would get old. There are some characters we just love to hate, and it’s easy to with some of these characters — but “Freaks and Geeks” is no normal show, and manages to make all the characters relatable.
The writers have a knack for making characters look flat before giving them extreme depth and it’s a large part of what makes the show so incredible.
At one point, Mr. Fredericks makes fun of Sam (Daley) for not paying attention in sex education, only to become a trusted adult in Sam’s life when he has genuine questions about the world. In the same episode, Lindsay (Cardellini) is caught helping Daniel (Franco) cheat on a math test, forcing Daniel to give a heart-wrenching speech about being told he was dumb at the age of 11 and how it impacted the way he treated school.
Daniel could easily be characterized as a burnout that doesn’t care about education — or even his own friends at times — but his emotional plea for leniency when they’re caught is something special. He continues to evolve past this, even within the episode, though I won’t spoil it.
While it’s unfortunate the show only saw one season, viewers are blessed by Feig’s foresight the show would be canceled and wrote the final episode accordingly. The characters get fitting endings to their single-season arcs but there’s still enough room to wonder where they’d go after the credits roll.
Though we’ll never know what future seasons could’ve held, the end of the series still manages to give appropriate closure.
“Freaks and Geeks” is available for streaming on Hulu.