Do you have a favorite television show? Not something that you enjoy whenever it’s on, and maybe not even something you sit and watch every week. But, do you have a show that you completely love? For many years, if I had to answer that question myself, I’d suggest “The Wonder Years” or “The Sopranos”, but there was a TV show that I had forgotten about until recently seeing it on DVD again. The show is “Freaks and Geeks”, and it’s the best show I’ve ever seen.
First airing on NBC in 2000, it barely lasted one season. With bad timeslots and constant shifting of days, the show’s ratings never rose, and it was canceled. Fox Family re-aired the show the next year, I believe, and that is where I first saw it. I knew it was a great show, but I only saw a few episodes before they took it off the air again. Working back at Blockbuster, I was finally able to rent the series recently, and even during the pilot episode – I fell in love. The writing is smart, the actors are all talented, but it is much more than that. It’s the story and characters. Every single episode brought me closer and closer to the characters – I cared what happened to them as if they were living friends. They were in situations I remembered from my own high school days, with people who I remembered hanging out with, yet it was never as dramatic as “The Wonder Years”. “The Wonder Years” is absolutely fantastic, but it’s a show of nostalgia and dramatic moments, a man looking back at his childhood. Also, it is set in an era that isn’t mine. “Freaks and Geeks”, however, is set in the 80’s, and handles things in a very simple, genuine manner. It is very easy to believe that these are high school kids, and not actors. The biggest key for me, though, is the show’s heart. We are all aware of sitcoms and their ‘very special episode’ that may deal with drugs or something serious, but for “Freaks and Geeks”, every episode handled something that high school kids run into every single day – life. And, as I’m sure we all can remember, life in high school is more treacherous than anything. There are no villains, and there are no heroes – simply a group of kids all plodding through the same big mess together, each in their own way. There are bullies, cheerleaders, jocks, and everything in between. And, of course, there are also the freaks and the geeks.
I myself was a bit of a geek, who in high school, ended up hanging out with the freaks. This show represents both of these groups perfectly – and I should know. When things are funny, they are freaking hilarious – I almost fell to the ground a number of times, and when they are sad, I almost cried. The show’s creators and most of the actors have gone on to other things, but for me, they may never hit as great a note as they did with “Freaks and Geeks”. I know this review is vague, at best, but I mean it to be that way. If I went into too much detail, I feel I might build up aspects that you yourself wouldn’t particularly enjoy. I don’t want to tell you why I loved it – I want you to see it and tell me why you loved it. Just as a song means many things to many people, so will this show, I imagine. If you were popular, then for the most part it will be a view into the world of those of us who weren’t, and if you were an outcast, then I’m sure you will see something very familiar when you watch. This show is about much more than high school social class, though. It’s about this small little time of life and growing up in spite of it.
The only hesitation I have with promoting this show, is that there is only one season. The DVD rentals include more episodes that were never aired, but regardless, it is only one season. There are open storylines, and unfinished problems – but I suppose there really couldn’t be a better ending for this show. None of us leave high school with everything wrapped up neatly or with every question answered, so it fits that we leave these characters in the same way. Just as high school seniors graduating, we leave behind friends, memories, good times and bad, and we are left with the empty feeling of not knowing what is going to become of everyone. Would I like it if the series had continued? Of course. Yet, somehow, I almost like it more that it didn’t. I somewhat enjoy the fact that as the final shot of the series pulled back and faded out, my heart ached – because what could be more high school than that?