Throwback TV Review: Freaks and Geeks Pilot

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Lads and ladies we’re going on a trip to the 1980s. Hair metal and the Atari were taking hold, kids and adults alive were asking for their MTV. That is the landscape for Judd Apatow’s 1999 series Freaks and Geeks.

In the pilot, we are introduced to Lindsay Weir (played by Linda Cardellini), a former mathlete who just lost her beloved grandmother and because of it, Lindsay also lost her ambition. She starts hanging out with the burnouts and freaks and among those are Daniel (James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel) Ken (Seth Rogen) and Kim (Busy Phillipps). This is the group in school you’d find smoking cigarettes and enjoying heavy metal. Meanwhile, her brother Sam (John Francis Daley) is dealing with a bully obsessed with killing him. At the same time, he is trying to get his crush to go with him to the dance. A dance Lindsay has no interest in until she screws up and gets caught skipping by the guidance counselor.

This is the perfect introduction into the world. Not only have we immediately become immersed from the jump thanks to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” as well as a slew of other songs used in this episode, but the costuming drives the point home. It’s a great way to start and build this series. If you are a fan of films like 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, perhaps the fact that Judd Apatow was the showrunner will interest you. Also, it’s worth mentioning is that this pilot was directed by Bridesmaids and Spy director Paul Feig. This kind of tells you what you’re in for when it comes to both the comedy and sensibilities behind the whole show. Seeing these actors that would eventually become household names when they were younger is also a highlight.

As for this first episode, there’s some great moments including the final dance, which features a rousing ballad from the band Styx. Sam’s friends stick up for him against the bully that has tormented him, and morbid dinner table conversations with dad are something that Lindsay must endure. The guidance counselor Mr. Rosso trying really hard to relate to Lindsay and what she’s going through. Interestingly enough, there’s a layer of heart to it all as well.

Stay tuned as we review all 18 episodes of Freaks and Geeks’s only season. After that, we’ll talk about the season as a whole. So keep it locked at The Young Folks as we go back to 1980 at McKinley High. Share your thoughts on Freaks and Geeks in the comments.

Freaks and Geeks is now streaming on Netflix.

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