‘Freaks and Geeks’ Turns 24: The Cult Classic that Never Got its Due but Lives On

Remember sitting around the TV in ’99, flipping channels and stumbling upon this new show, ‘Freaks and Geeks’?

The story of two groups of high school misfits instantly felt relatable. Created by Paul Feig and executive-produced by Judd Apatow, the show nailed what it felt like to be a teenager, dealing with everything from first loves to awful teachers.

Pop Culture Influence

So, why does ‘Freaks and Geeks’ still matter? I mean, it’s been 24 years! Well, first off, the show’s awkward, real-life situations became a template for teen dramas and comedies that followed. Instead of the picture-perfect world we saw in other shows from the ’90s, ‘Freaks and Geeks’ gave us messy rooms, messed-up families, and the mess that is teenage emotion. It told us it’s okay to be weird or awkward, and that message has stuck around.

The show’s relatable storytelling approach helped pave the way for future shows that championed the underdog. Think ‘Glee,’ where the glee clubbers were the school outcasts, or ‘Community,’ where a group of misfits find friendship in a community college setting. These shows, in many ways, picked up where ‘Freaks and Geeks’ left off.

Let’s also not forget the killer soundtrack. The show was jam-packed with classic ’80s tunes that became synonymous with the episodes they were featured in. Now, whenever we hear those songs, it’s hard not to think of McKinley High and its memorable students.

And, you know how everyone’s all about reboots and nostalgia trips these days? While we haven’t gotten a ‘Freaks and Geeks’ reboot yet (fingers crossed!), the constant online chatter and fan campaigns prove this show still holds weight.

The show did manage to snag an Emmy for casting but, sadly, that’s about it. But, it’s not all about the trophies, right?

Why Did It Get Canceled?

Well, to start, it was buried in a less-than-ideal time slot. The show aired on Saturdays, which is pretty much where TV shows go to die. Let’s be real, most teens were out doing whatever teens do on a Saturday night, not sitting at home watching TV. So yeah, the ratings were far from stellar.

Another issue was the constant shuffling of episodes. Network executives at NBC didn’t air them in the order they were intended, making the storylines a bit hard to follow. It’s like reading a book but skipping chapters here and there; you lose the essence of the story.

And speaking of network execs, they didn’t quite get the show. They wanted more victories for the characters, a happier tone maybe. But that would’ve ruined what made ‘Freaks and Geeks’ special in the first place. It was real, it was raw, and not every story has a happy ending. The creators of the show, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, weren’t willing to compromise their vision, and honestly, good for them.

Financial factors also came into play. Period pieces, even ones set as recently as the ’80s, can be expensive to produce. The awesome but copyrighted music, the costumes, and other details added up.

So, with dismal ratings, network misunderstanding, and high costs, the show met its unfortunate end after just one season.

Where Are They Now?

Curious about where the cast ended up? You’ve probably seen them popping up all over Hollywood because many of them went on to have killer careers.

First up, James Franco. The guy’s done it all since playing the too-cool-for-school Daniel Desario. From leading roles in movies like ‘127 Hours’ to dabbling in writing and teaching, Franco has stayed in the spotlight for years.

And let’s not forget Seth Rogen. Yeah, he was Ken Miller, the sarcastic drummer in the show. Fast-forward to today, and he’s a comedy kingpin. Rogen’s written, directed, and starred in a ton of hit movies like ‘Superbad’ and ‘Pineapple Express,’ and he’s even launched his own cannabis company.

Now, what about Linda Cardellini, who played the ‘good girl gone bad’ Lindsay Weir? She’s done incredibly well, with roles in blockbuster films like ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and popular TV shows like ‘Dead to Me.’

Jason Segel, who played Nick Andopolis, the drum-playing guy hopelessly in love with Lindsay, has also had his share of success. Remember ‘How I Met Your Mother’? Yep, that was him as Marshall. He’s also been in rom-coms like ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and even wrote a bunch of young adult novels.

Even the actors who played smaller roles have been busy. Busy Philipps (Kim Kelly) has acted in several shows and movies, even hosting her own late-night talk show for a bit. Samm Levine (Neal Schweiber) regularly appears in TV shows and movies, and he’s big on the podcast scene too.

More: Behind the Scenes of “Freaks and Geeks”: Jason Segel Was Involved In A Love Triangle