(Must stop watching “Freaks and Geeks.” Must write column).
Fade in on William McKinley High School, which shares its name with the school from “Glee.” You’ll indulge in a minute-long opener with just the right amount of cheekiness, then you’ll get to the good stuff.
Bam. “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett begins to play as the title sequence streams and the show’s stars file through as if they’re getting their school pictures taken.
Have you ever seen “21 Jump Street”? No, not the comedy with Jonah Hill –– the original series. It’s not good; it’s repetitive and the plot is silly.
But it’s great. It’s great because it stars Johnny Depp (circa “Cry Baby”) in 103 episodes of pure awesome. He was 24 when he started filming.
Tell me, what’s better than being head-over-heels for Depp now? Swooning at him when he was just as godly AND age-appropriate.
This is what makes “Freaks and Geeks” amazing. Color me culturally ignorant, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started watching… until the credits began to roll.
Hello James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. Hello all three of you playing bad boys.
So what’s it about?
Well, the short answer is high school. It’s just another sitcom about teenagers. The long answer? It’s a “Saved by the Bell” atmosphere, but more corrupt, with hints of the comedic relief you find in “Modern Family.”
It’s dirty. It’s grimy. It stars Lindsey (played by the same chick who played Velma in those terrible live-action Scooby Doo films), who is an incredibly smart lady and also incredibly lost.
She skips school. A lot. And she hangs out with people (read: freaks) her family doesn’t really approve of.
Her younger brother is also a star, providing most of the comedy of the series. He’s a geek, and is recognizable as well for his role on “Bones” today.
So what’s the deal, Netflix? “Freaks and Geeks” was cancelled after only one season, yet it’s always at the top of my “Recommended for You.”
I figured out my answer pretty quickly.
I am Lindsey. Lindsey is me. Netflix, you know me so well.
I got a 4.0 in high school. I did all my homework, and I talked to my guidance counselor all the time, just like Lindsey. I also never went to class. (Sorry, Mom.)
I skipped school constantly, and I hung out with lots of older kids who my parents didn’t like. Basically, this is my grind.
Now, I’ve seen every episode of “Saved by the Bell” but save for the “I’m so… scared” pill-popping fiasco, the series was pretty muted.
“Freaks and Geeks” is not.
No, there’s not a lot of sex and there’s no excessive drug or alcohol use (this isn’t “Skins”), but those plotlines weren’t what my high school experience was either.
Lindsey’s lost. She doesn’t talk to the people in her classes because she can’t relate to them. She makes friends but doesn’t mean it. She’s constantly spinning and falling and no one knows where she’ll land.
Her dad? He gives advice like the gym teacher from “Mean Girls.” Her gym teacher? He’s Biff from “Back to the Future.”
Jason Segel is the unspoken star of the show. Where Franco is same-old and Rogen is douche-y, Segal stands alone as the sensitive drummer who just wants to do what he loves.
“This is my passion,” he says of his master drumkit. “This is the essence of who I am.” He’s talking to Lindsey here; he sees her for who she is. He’s trying to show her the kind of thing she needs to find herself.
Her family sees it another way. “Why are you throwing your life away?” her little brother asks.
“Freaks and Geeks” is a cult classic. I get it now, Netflix.
In a world where all of us (especially of the young adult variety) are in a constant tug-of-war between soul-searching and being forced into “passions,” viewers just want to see someone they relate to.