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The Storytelling Within “Freaks and Geeks”

Freaks and Geeks is American tv show from 1999 that only ran for one season but has become a cult classic. I have watched show multiple times and every time I rewatch it realize how well the writing in it is done. I’m a big comedy fan and a big fan of Judd Apatow’s as well, and this show is really what launched that. I think the show really captures what the feeling of being in high school can feel like. I also think the show was ahead of its time in many senses. No one had really ever made shows or movies about the kids who weren’t popular in high school before Freaks and Geeks. For those that don’t know, the show follows siblings Lindsey Weir and her brother Sam Weir as they navigate high school in 1980s Michigan through their respective friend groups, Lindsey’s being the “freaks” and Sam’s being the “geeks”.

What I think this show does a really nice job of is finding the balance between comedy and real life problems that teenagers deal with in their lives. I am a fan of comedy and it is something I would love to be able to write and incorporate into my work and I think this show does such a good job with writing it while still not over doing it. I think the key to comedy writing is being able to know when to push your limits and when to know when something will be taken too far and the joke is killed. A lot of comedy is found in people’s reactions to things and the way we handle certain situations. I think one of the funniest parts of the show is watching the characters just look at someone who said something stupid.

I want to track back to my comment about the show having a balance between comedy and real life problems. At first glance we are just shown these groups of kids who are considered to be “geeks” who are into science and Dungeons and Dragons and these kids who are “freaks” because they are necessarily good at school and smoke weed and these are all we have to go by, these first impressions so to speak. As the show progresses however, we dive a little deeper into each characters life and we realize that their home lives aren’t very great or ideal, only the two main characters Sam and Lindsey have two parents who would be considered “ideal” parents. The reveals of each of these characters lives are done well. No one really wants to keep watching a show that gives everything away so quickly and the same goes for a book, once you begin to reveal and unravel, you begin to lose control of your story and things begin to come to a close.

As a screenwriting I find the show to be quite inspiring for many reasons, but I find it most inspiring for it’s run in general. When the show came out it was not the success that the people working on it thought it was going to be and after 18 episodes it was cancelled. But, now with so many streaming services, the show has become a classic to so many and is finally getting the recognition it deserves. I think this relays to thinking about your audience and knowing who you’re writing for. You don’t focus on the people that don’t like your work, you focus on the people that do and that’s your audience. even if you are only connecting with one person, you are still connecting with someone.

The early 2000’s were a time of cheesy teen movies about making over dorking looking girls who look dorky and then the popular guy falls in love with them. Freaks and Geeks didn’t do that. It didn’t try to “makeover these kids in these groups. The show was about these kids growing and learning to accept themselves in high school, not change. Sure there were times when they wished they were someone else, but that’s high school. Everyone wishes they were someone else sometimes, we all have things we would change about ourselves, but at the end of the day we are who we are so you just gotta accept that and learn to be ok with that. Writing real authentic stories is really important to me and Freaks and Geeks does that, it shows what high school can feel like. When you’re in high school you already feel out of place, not just within school but within yourself. You’re going through so many changes and emotions and then when school feels like it just sucks, it just adds to it. The show and the storytelling within it have helped me reflect and pull from my own experiences being that age and that time in my life to better create authentic stories and story lines within my writing.

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