Freaks And Geeks

By Paul Feig

Type: TV show

Genre: Comedy, Teen Drama,

Interest Level: 9th-12th grade +

Awards: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series (2000)

Teaser: High school is all about who you want to be. But these teens just happen to be one of two things: FREAK or GEEK!

Summary: Set in Michigan, Lindsay Weir and her younger brother Sam are high school students in the 1980s. The show starts with Lindsay breaking out of her comfort zone and attempting to become pals with the freaks at the school. Her streak of rebellion causes problems between her and her parents. Lindsay was a mathlete with a promising future, and now her parents worry that the people she’s hanging out with are a bad influence. The freaks eventually embrace Lindsay and, while there are some emotional ups and downs, they recognize the value of Lindsay as she often has them questioning the value of themselves. Sam, on the other hand, is a freshman and a total geek. He and his friends are not new to the world of bullying, but it does not stop Sam from being hopeful about dating the prettiest girl in his grade. Sam and his friends experience some difficulties as well, but realize that as long as they have each other they can make it through high school.

Information about the Writer: According to Wikipedia, “Paul Samuel Feig  (born September 17, 1962) is an actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is best known for directing the 2011 film Bridesmaids, featuring Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Feig also directed the comedy films The Heat (2013) starring McCarthy andS andra Bullock, and Spy (2015) which stars McCarthy, Jason Statham, and Jude Law. On television he created the critically acclaimed show Freaks and Geeks and directed several episodes of The Office and Arrested Development; plus episodes of 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Mad Men,Other Space and other television series. Feig has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for writing on Freaks and Geeks and three for directing on The Office. As an actor he is also known for playing Mr. Eugene Pool, Sabrina’s science teacher, on the first season of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, as well as Tim, a camp counselor, in the film Heavyweights.”

Critical Evaluation: The cast of the show is phenomenal. For many of the actors this was the beginning of their career and it is so interesting to see the characters evolve and to wonder if the actors underwent a change while working on the show as well. The fact that it is set in the 80s brings a whole new level of funny. The fashion and lingo are almost entertainment enough, but then the writing is hilarious. It focuses on real teen issues, but in a humorous way so that the show is not depressing. It is great that it is focused on the Weir teens because it brings in the family dynamic. Since there is a son and a daughter, the viewer gets to follow the perspective of both a male and a female. The show jumps back and forth between the freaks and the geeks, but sometimes the story lines tie together and those are typically the funniest episodes. There is only one season of Freaks and Geeks. It was cancelled after one season, but has inspired quite a cult following.

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalk Ideas: Would you be a freak or a geek?

Challenge Issues: Drugs & Alcohol, Sexuality

Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association

Why Did I Pick This: I picked this show because it is a humorous show that is still under the radar in a lot of ways. Teens today will still be able to recognize some of the faces in the show such as James Franco or Seth Rogan. It also provides a humorous take on getting through high school that I think many teens will be able to identify with.

Feig, P. (Writer), & Apatow, J. (Producer). (2000). Freaks and Geeks [Television Series].  Los Angeles, CA: Paramount Pictures.

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