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A Long Overdue Appreciation for “Freaks and Geeks”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of or watched the teen comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks made in the 90s. Easily one of my top five favorite shows of all time, this show and its all star cast goes above and beyond when exploring the margins and outer corners of American high school life and culture in the early 80s. Starring Linda Cardinelli, James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, Busy Phillips and others, many big actors got their start on this one season show. But why was its cancellation such a big deal? Was it even that popular when airing in the first place? Regardless of the technicalities towards the end of the show, it remains a comfort spot of television for bittersweet and tender moments as well as laughter. 

One of my favorite elements of the show is definitely the backing soundtrack and the punk/rock songs that are featured throughout the series. The iconic Joan Jett song “Bad Reputation” blares in the theme song of the show as all the characters appear on the screen for school pictures. In classic freaks and geeks fashion, all of them sit, smile (or don’t), and present themselves for the camera either missing the cue for their photo or looking less than happy to be there. It’s the first time, at least for me, that a show’s opening isn’t the glamorized, sparkly life of Disney Channel stars or cute montages of teens in high school. 

The creators of the show weren’t afraid to lean into awkwardness or true teenage rebellion on television while so many other shows at the time were still stuck in the traditional structures of sitcoms. Obviously this was emphasized by the delinquent nature of bad boy Daniel (James Franco) that attracts Cardinelli’s character Lindsey Weir to him in the first place. However, the devil-may-care attitude of Daniel and his friends often gets Lindsey in more trouble than the actual criminals themselves. There aren’t always conventional happy resolutions or endings to the episodes (in fact, most of the episodes end with Lindsey in some sort of trouble or her brother Sam in a gloomy situation). But even through the frustrations that creep up on Lindsey when she (like so much of the audience) struggles with the feeling of not belonging or​ the pressures of high school cliques, her freak friends or her younger brother’s geeky group normally find small, sweet ways to cheer her up. 

The show only aired for one season before it was cancelled. Like most beloved, nerdy shows, there was huge protest and uproar from the fans. Ever since, there have been very few spin-offs or added episodes, but the main revival of the show was in the early 2000s when it was available on DVD. Now in the world of easily accessible streaming services, Freaks and Geeks is on Hulu to watch, and the small list of episodes makes the show and its ending bittersweet and cherished by the fans. You can watch the short season over and over again and still love the great music, the relatable (and attractive) characters and feel like you belong in the world of Freaks and Geeks.

Mia Huerta

Kenyon '25

Mia is a sophomore and a writer for Her Campus. She is from the suburbs of Chicago, IL and is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys playing guitar, reading, baking sweet desserts, and discovering new music.