Before Netflix even released it on to their platform, I had already seen and loved the cult classic television series Freaks and Geeks several times over. It had started when I was at college, having consumed a flurry of modern American literature and a somewhat misplaced nostalgia that I thought would help me identify parts of my self in an 80s/90s blur of big hair, music and violently offensive jumpers.
A friend and co-worker of mine at the time was well versed in the art of finding things such as music, films and television shows on the internet at a steal. It could have been argued that I used him like a drug mule; I was the American hungry for another fix and he was the person crossing the Mexican border with a car boot full of crack. Freaks and Geeks was one of his offerings brought back for me.
“I often find that even when you are late to the party you can still find acceptance in the act, whether it be music, or a film or anything. Being first to the crowd doesn’t always mean you like it the most.”
With a simple plot, follows a group of loners, nerds and stoners that interlink as ‘good girl’ and mathlete, Lindsay Weir, tries to join up with the ‘burnouts’ in her class and her younger brother, Sam, along with his band of traditionally nerdy friends who try to negotiate and survive the halls of their school. Set in the 1980s but filmed in the 1990s, it gave Hollywood stars such as James Franco and Seth Rogen their first break and for a lot of people at the time that was a big deal. The show represented teenage life authentically and was a welcome relief from the picture perfect images people were being shown at the time.
It is a celebration of the misfits and renegades, by appearing to convey a lighter tone to its predecessors, such as My So-Called Life. It was able to interact with people who were put off by the heavy themes of drugs and sex that were portrayed, in particular the overdose scene.
Many fans of the show that I have encountered were not fortunate enough to catch it first time round but they all have been moved and found parts of themselves caught in these characters. I often find that even when you are late to the party you can still find acceptance in the act, whether it be music, or a film or anything. Being first to the crowd doesn’t always mean you like it the most.
The main message of the show is that underdogs do not just prevail, but they stick together in a way that many others don’t. Whether you are a freak or a geek or an outsider, you can still belong to a group. Often these sub-groups actually do a better job at supporting and raising individuals compared to mainstream society that seems to be very heavy-handed when enforcing its views.
In this present day and age it seems odd that these subcultural groups are appearing more and more wildly effective, especially during a time when the mainstream is falsely emulating them with false promises or heavily photoshopped advertising campaigns. Banding together, as a freak or a geek or something entirely different, is important and it is eerie how many similarities the show brings forward win line with our current political spectrum.
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