Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.
It's the 1980s and at McKinley High, there's two different groups of teenagers, the Freaks with cool and charismatic Daniel Desario and tomboy Lindsay Weir and the Geeks with Lindsay's shy younger brother Sam, gentle Bill Haverchuck, and self-proclaimed ladies' man Neal Schweiber. The show chronicles the normal teen/adolescence problems any teenager goes through including acceptance, drugs, drinking, and bullying.Written by
Corey Semple (Hairsprayer07)
The show's creative team seems to have an eye for the high school experience and their vision transcends the setting. Freaks and Geeks is set at a Michigan high school in 1980 and the opening shot of the series sets us up for who the show will be about. We track across a football practice and up to the bleachers where a player and cheerleader are discussing how they love each other so much, it's scary. We linger briefly on this generic moment before moving underneath the bleachers to real life and a conversation about Molly Hatchet and Led Zeppelin. These are the Freaks. Then come the Geeks. They are three boys quoting Caddyshack, are bullied for it, and then saved by a girl. It's through these freaks and these geeks that we will relive the high school experience. Sure the names of the groups change, their lingo and the bands they listen to, but everyone can relate to the horrors and beauties of high school and the relationships that reside there.
So many characterizations about this period of life are presented through the eyes of characters that virtually no one was. The characters are either too smart, quoting Kierkegaard at fourteen and making their own label-worthy clothing, or they are perfect, as if everyone's capable of making the game-winning shot. Our story here is presented through the lives of Lindsey and Sam Weir. Lindsey is the oldest. She's a former "mathlete" and "that girl in English who got an "A."" However, dissatisfaction with her life and an attraction to the easygoing ways of Daniel Desario, the head freak, leads her to a new group of friends and a shift in direction. Her successes as a student and the perception of her as a perfect daughter have left her feeling empty. So she trades her plaid dress for her dad's old army jacket and forsakes the library for the smoking patio. But Lindsey's is not simply a story of "teenage rebellion." Her's is a journey into the genuine as she finds a home in the murky adventures of friendships and a real life lived.
Sam and his friends, Bill and Neal, are freshman, learning from the outset that "high school sucks." But their stories are not simply the ninth grade torture chamber they could have been. No, Sam, Bill, and Neal are redeemed by their acynical, wide-eyed approach to life and their affection for one another. This care they have for one another is refreshing and truthful. In one episode (The Garage Door), Sam suspects that Neal's dad is being unfaithful in his marriage. Bill reminds Sam that he has to tell Neal what he saw. There are no secrets. "Remember that time in science class when I tried to sneak out a fart and it came out a poop? Do you think I wanted to tell you that?" Their innocence isn't simply an extension of their naivete, (well, Bill is a little naïve) but flows more from their trust in one another and willingness to be faithful. In "Smooching and Mooching," Neal and Bill discuss strategy for spin-the-bottle at an upcoming make-out party. Bill asks, "What if they don't wanna kiss us?" Neal replies, "That's the genius part of the game. They have to." "I don't know. I just don't want to see the expression on their face when they see that the bottle lands on me," says Bill, gently. The geeks are not understated, and yet never over the top. They get their friendship just right.
Freaks and Geeks also gives us two of the great television characterizations that I've ever seen, Bill, played by Martin Starr, and Nick, played by Jason Seigel. Bill is the anti-Eddie Haskel. He's brimming with authenticity and his laid back ways provide some of the shows greatest comedic moments. In "Girlfriends and Boyfriends," Bill gets to be study partners with Cindy Sanders, one of the cutest girls in school and Sam's big crush. At a study session, her getting up from a chair is accompanied by a noise that either came from her or from the vinyl seat covering. When she leaves the room he immediately switches chairs and scootches around on it to see if indeed the sound came from Cindy or the vinyl. (It wasn't the vinyl ) Nick isn't quite so self-assured. If he is wide-eyed, its because he's staring into headlights. In fact, there are times when he comes off as manipulative and creepy and yet there is a sadness in his character that I haven't quite seen before. He is afraid. In "I'm With the Band" Lindsey encourages him to try out for a local band and fulfill his dream of being a rock-n-roll drummer only to find that his skills don't quite match his passion for the music. In "Discos and Dragons" he finally finds something he's good at, disco, and yet it's revealed to the viewer that the disco will close within a weeks time. He's the friend that has to be taken care of. (Ken smashes Nick's guitar so that he won't sing an embarrassing love ode to Lindsey.) Yet he wants to be the spirit of the group. ("Laser Floyd is playing at the laser dome!") But Nick isn't simply sad because bad things happen to him. He wants to be a deep thinker, but can't scratch the surface of things and conventional modes of "finding your way" seem only to backfire. He has glimpsed his place in the world, and he can't bear it.
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