Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks was canceled in its first season over 20 years ago - so how is it still so iconic?

The story about geek-turned-freak Lindsay Weir and her just-plain-geek younger brother Sam took a clear-eyed specific look at geek culture and freak culture at a time when the mainstream wasn’t doing that.

Instead of magazine cover-ready 25 year olds pretending to be 14, the show cast kids that look like real teens. Freaks and Geeks is a show about high school and all the insecurities that come with it – so casting authentic actors and filming them in a stripped-down way meant the show captured how that whole experience feels. Today geek culture is huge, but that was far from the case in the 90s. So the show’s portrayal of that subculture with nuance and dimension made it super relatable to many less-than-cool viewers who didn’t see themselves reflected realistically in most stories. Three-dimensional portraits of freak or burnout characters were even less common – so watching “smart girl” Lindsay abandon her straight-laced life to explore her new friends’ counterculture interests felt revolutionary.

The show perfectly depicts that ongoing, universal struggle to find your identity that everyone deals with in high school, which is just as relatable today as it was in 1999.