Freaks and Geeks, episodes 1–3

[Screenshot]This is another one of those orphaned cult favorites, like Wonderfalls or Firefly. Bit of a different demographic than either, if only because of the high-school setting which shifts things down a couple of years, but enjoyable nonetheless to anyone who went to high school. Less so for me: my own geeky high-school experiences were rather mitigated by being at a magnet school, where being an academic achiever and popular weren’t mutually exclusive. So geeks were kind of the status quo. But we had freaks too, so I can sort of see these subcultures as intrinsically plausibly rendered from my own experiences. But, damn, I’m glad I didn’t go to the high school depicted here.

The series so far seems pretty strong, mostly on the strength of the characters. Sam and Lindsay are both sympathetic characters: Lindsay’s sympathetic portrayal is particularly nuanced, since pretty much every decision she makes is wrong, but she comes out seeming basically well-meaning but troubled. Nick and Daniel are believably charismatic despite massive flaws, which seems like a necessary part of Lindsay’s motivation. Neal works well too, although I can’t figure out why. He’s sort of like Sam with inflated self-importance, but somehow he seems to contribute.

Some of the other peripheral characters don’t work too well, in my opinion, either because they go too far or in the wrong direction. Kim is less “chill burnout” and more “bitch queen”, and doesn’t really seem to fit with the freak scene. Bill is a bit too dysfunctional and wears out his welcome pretty early. Finally, Mr. Weir, despite being frequently hilarious, is over-the-top enough to drag us a bit out of reality (“You want to cross the street without looking both ways, fine. You know who else crossed streets without looking both ways? John Lennon. You know what he’s doing now? He’s DEAD.”).

But, so far, the central characters are appealing and ripe for interesting character development (especially Lindsay), and I’ll have to see where this goes. Er, where it went, anyways. Curse you, canceled television!

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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