Monday, October 17, 2005

Freaks and Geeks

Now that I'm back in Dallas, I'm glad to be back. It's not like I was itching to get the hell out of Chicago, but I was just homesick for the last few days. While I was in Chicago for these last few days, I watched quite a few episodes of Freaks and Geeks. I had seen some of the show courtesy of Matt but this was back before all 18 episodes were available on DVD. With some time on my hands, I believe I watched a total of seven episodes and found myself enjoying all of them for various reasons.

The backstory on Freaks and Geeks is that it follows a group of high school "freaks" (aka, burnouts, ugly losers) and "geeks" (aka, nerds, ugly losers) circa 1981. With elements of serious drama and laugh-out-loud comedy, the show was incredibly unique in the fact that nothing was ever wrapped up in a neat bow by the end of each episode. NBC gave the show a lot of chances to find an audience, but they pulled the plug after 18 episodes were filmed. I'm not someone that will protest and say that NBC was stupid by pulling the show. As I said, NBC gave the show a variety of chances by placing it on various nights of the week but alas, it never really found a large viewing audience week in and week out. It's not like it was pulled after two shows like a certain other show was by another network. Though the show was cancelled, the show lives on DVD.

Watching Freaks and Geeks, I couldn't help but think back to my high school days. I identified with the geek mentality portrayed on the show but I wasn't steeped in it like the characters. I was more invisible more than anything else. I was very much involved with music (either playing it or listening to it) and stayed well inside the band bubble. I liked all kinds of rock music, playing video games and hanging out and wasn't into smoking out, causing trouble or trying to be popular. I'm still very much into the things I was into but it wasn't until I got out of high school I realized how much more was out there.

As far as why a show like this didn't last more than one season on TV, I have a theory: a mass viewing audience prefers to see better, prettier versions of themselves reflected on the small screen rather than similar, dorkier or uglier versions of themselves. The same theory could very well be applied to movies and magazines, but keeping a large audience keep coming back to the same show week after week is a different beast. I won't lie; there were quite a few moments on the show where plots and themes hit so close to home that it was hard to watch. However, I'm glad I did watch because I could understand that others went through what I went through or even worse.

There is something to be said about a show that still resonates regardless of when it was made. Of course some of things may look dated (ie, clothes), but there is something to be said about focusing on universal growing pains and not tying up all the loose strands by the 50-minute mark.

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