Freaks and Geeks: Then and Now

Note: This blog post will contain spoilers about the TV show ‘Freaks and Geeks’ 

Although lesser known in the UK, the Judd Apatow produced Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) has a cult following in the US despite only lasting for one season. The show introduced audiences to some of the biggest actors and actresses in film and television today and dawned the start of the ‘comedy clique’ that would frequently appear on-screen together.

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers [Getty Images]

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers
L-R: Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps, Samm Levine, John Francis Daley, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr, James Franco. [Getty Images]

The show followed the Weir siblings, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley), and their respective friendship groups, the freaks and the geeks, as they went through high school during the 1980s. The show focused on friendships, family bonds, drug use, bullying and issues with self-image. It dealt with serious issues in a light way and, unsurprisingly considering the cast, had many hilarious moments.

The Freaks consisted of Lindsay, Daniel (James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel), Ken (Seth Rogen) and Kim (Busy Philipps). They were a group of burnouts likely to be found smoking weed by the bleachers or sneaking out of class. At the beginning of the series, Lindsay is dealing with the death of her grandmother and the narrative predominately follows her questioning her faith and social standing as she begins to hang out with the ‘freaks’ rather than the mathletes.

The Geeks consisted of Sam, Neal (Samm Levine) and Bill (Martin Starr). The series saw the Geeks trying to avoid bullies, deal with first crushes and coping with family issues.

Last year, Vanity Fair reunited all of the cast members publicly for the first time since the show was cancelled. They had previously held a reunion at PaleyFest in 2011, however, James Franco was not present due to filming commitments.

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of 'Freaks and Geeks'  for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Here is a run through of the best moments of Freaks and Geeks and the career highlights of the cast so far:

The Freaks:

Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini)

Lindsay Weir

Best Moments

At the start of the series Lindsay isn’t the most likeable character. It is frustrating as a viewer to see her trying to be somebody she is so clearly not just to fit in with this group. But her best moments come when we see her compassionate side, such as when she talks about her late grandmother or when she defends Eli, a boy with mental disabilities. As the series goes on, she builds a friendship with Kim which is great to watch and it is endearing to watch her struggling with her feelings for the overly-keen Nick.

Notable Credits

Velma in Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Cassie in Brokeback Mountain
Nurse Samantha Taggart in ER

Current Projects

Voice work on Gravity Falls
Currently voicing Sharla in Out There.

Daniel Desario (James Franco)

James Franco

Best Moments

Daniel’s turbulent relationship with Kim offers some humorous moments, especially when he decides to agree with everything she says during episode 12, ‘The Garage Door‘. However, some of his best moments occur when he is communicating with the geeks. In the finale, Daniel is forced to join the Audio/Visual club after pulling the fire alarm to try and get out of a test so to be nice the geeks invite him to join them at their Dungeons and Dragons night, where they all bond over Daniel’s creation of Carlos the Dwarf (see below). 

Notable Credits

Harry Osborn in the Spiderman franchise
Aron Ralston in 127 Hours
Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Current Projects

Alien in Spring Breakers
Oz in Oz the Great and Powerful

Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel)

Jason Segel

Best Moments

Nick is the character who is freakishly loveable. He is obsessed with Lindsay, going as far as serenading her with Styx’s ‘Lady’ (cringe through the clip below) and later writing his own song for her, ‘Lady L’. His pride and joy is his 29-piece drum kit and he is initially convinced he can make it as a drummer, despite having no motivation to do anything about it. There are many touching moments between Nick and Lindsay where she tries to encourage him to be more ambitious, but he struggles to remain motivated under the watchful eye of his dad, who has warned if he doesn’t sort himself out soon, he’ll be going into the army.

Notable Credits

Peter in Forgetting Sarah Marshallalso writer
Gary in The Muppetsalso writer
Tom in The Five-Year Engagement; also writer

Current Projects

Series 9 of How I Met Your Mother
Featuring in This is the End as himself
Rumoured to be taking the lead role in Dreamworks’ Undercover Cop an 80’s era comedy

Ken Miller (Seth Rogen)

Seth Rogen

Best Moments

In my opinion, Ken is so underused in the series. Although he is there early on to provide some witty one-liners, it is only when he gets a girlfriend during episode 12 that he more heavily featured. When Ken meets his girlfriend, Amy, Rogen’s performance is spot-on. He goes from the quick-witted, sarcastic character to the one who doesn’t know what to do or say.

Notable Credits

Officer Michaels in Superbad; also writer
Dale Denton in Pineapple Expressalso writer
Kyle in 50/50

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself; also writer
Linked to Nicholas Stoller’s Townies alongside Zac Efron
Linked to Anthony Leondis’ B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations

Kim Kelly (Busy Philipps)

Busy Phillips

Best Moments

When I watched the first few episodes of the show, I hated Kim Kelly. I thought the way she spoke to Daniel was awful and her mistreatment of Lindsay actually felt like bullying. However, by the fourth episode, ‘Kim Kelly Is My Friend’, that all changes. You get a glimpse of her dysfunctional family life and realise she mistreats others because that’s all she’s ever known. As the series progresses, her friendship with Lindsay grows and the two really care and respect each other, which is great to watch.

Notable Credits

Audrey Liddell in Dawson’s Creek
Hope Bobeck in ER
Laurie Keller in Cougar Town

Current Projects

Continuing to film Cougar Town
Featuring in Kat Coiro’s A Case of You

The Geeks:

Sam Weir (John Francis Daley)

Sam Weir

Best Moments

As Sam is quite a lot smaller than most of the other boys his age, he lacks a lot of self-confidence, especially when talking to his crush, Cindy Sanders. He’s a true mummy’s boy and worries about Lindsay mixing into the wrong crowd. There is an adorable moment when Lindsay decides to have a party whilst their parents are away, worried that their house will get wrecked, Sam buys a keg of non-alcoholic beer and swaps it with the original keg. Another great moment is when he tries to revamp his image to make himself look a bit cooler, however his choice of a blue jumpsuit doesn’t quite have the desired effect…

Notable Credits

Dr. Lance Sweets in Bones 
Carter in Horrible Bosses; also writer
Mitch in Waiting…

Current Projects

Ben House in Rapturepalooza
Writer of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Writer of Vacation

Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine)

Best Moments

Neal comes out with some of the best liners on the series – my all time favourite is “I’m Jewish. That’s no cakewalk either. Last year, I was elected school treasurer. I didn’t even run!”. He is convinced he is older than his years and that he can charm Lindsay into liking him and after finding out his dad is having an affair, he starts to speak to people through a puppet. Whilst Levine is hilarious during the funny moments, he also makes your heart melt during his more emotional scenes.

Notable Credits

Pfc. Hirschberg in Inglourious Basterds
Spanky in Sydney White
Appearances in Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and 90210.

Current Projects

Uncredited role in jOBS
Pranked caller in Miss Dial
Matt Nealy in Phys Ed

Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr)

Best Moments

I could write an entire blog post about Bill Haverchuck, who is, without any doubt, my favourite character on the show. In a show full of amazing one-liners, his are always the best and the way Starr uses simple mannerisms means that even when he’s not speaking, Bill is the person you are watching. From getting drunk whilst watching Dallas, drinking a concoction of disgusting food that Sam and Neal have blended together to earn ten bucks and trying to teach the boys how to “dance sexy”, he is always providing laugh-out-loud humour. However, his best moment has got to be his halloween costume… (see below)

Notable Credits

Martin in Knocked Up
Joel in Adventureland
Appearances in How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, New Girl and Community

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself 
Todd in The Lifeguard
Roman DeBeers in Party Down

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One thought on “Freaks and Geeks: Then and Now

  1. Pingback: Film Review: This Is 40 [Yuppee Article] « Rachel writes…

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