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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 — Houston, TX


By Reed Thornburg     10/4/12 7:00pm


TV Recommendation: Freaks and Geeks

Site: Netflix Instant Streaming

"Freaks and Geeks" was too good to last long on television. It was cancelled after only 12 episodes, but its cultish fan base lobbied for a six-episode extension. The grand total: one season, 18 episodes, and a show that actually understood high school.

Set in a fictional suburb of Detroit in the early 1980s, the show follows the lives of brother and sister Lindsay and Sam Weir. The series begins with Lindsay growing apart from her over-achieving friend group at William McKinley High School, and becoming closer with a group of drug-using "outsiders" who take no part in the social hierarchy. To quote Lindsay's offbeat father, she transitions from "mathlete" to "burnout." The other main character, Sam, is a freshman at McKinley and the leader of a very tightly knit group of Star Wars-obsessed "nerds" that are just as sexually frustrated as they are confused. With the two Weirs as the focal points, the plot revolves around their friend groups, the "freaks and geeks," respectively.

The show is excellently acted, which is unsurprising considering just how many prominent actors used "Freaks and Geeks" as their starting point. Produced by Judd Apatow ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), the "Freaks and Geeks" cast features common Apatow standards such as Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segel as members of the "freaks." Other now-famous actors such as Rashida Jones and Shia LeBeouf alsodot the series with young cameo appearances.

Where the show most succeeds is in its ability to surpass the somewhat limiting genre of high school drama. The show refuses to trivialize all the confusion and embarrassment, and most importantly, it captures all the hilarity.

Nearly 10 years after its cancellation and a brief period of syndication on cable networks, "Freaks and Geeks" makes its return on Netflix Instant Streaming. As Rice students, most of us were either "freaks" or "geeks," and even if that is not the case, all of us can relate to one of the best television programs of the last decade.   

Streamlined is a column which focuses on finding and reviewing the diamonds in the rough of Netflix's instant streaming content.

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