Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Strike Watch, Episode V

Once you watch the first few episodes of Freaks and Geeks, you will understand why it has become a cult classic. The characters are compelling, the plots are delightfully twisted, and the morals are not heavy-handed (or even unambiguous - which, of course, I love). What you won't understand is how NBC could have made the colossal mistake of dropping the series with several episodes still unaired. Was Freaks and Geeks, a coming-of-age comedy set in the early 80's, ironcially ahead of it's time? I don't think so. That distinction is reserved for another series cut down in its prime, My So-Called Life. Maybe this is an emerging pattern. America couldn't handle Angela Chase's or Lindsay Weir's truth.

Do we make you uncomfortable? Good!

I will always remember "The Little Things," in which Ken (played by Seth Rogen, now of Knocked Up and Superbad fame) is told by his girlfriend that she was born with ambiguous genitalia. His resulting crisis of sexual identity is both hilarious and heart-warming. It resolves when he bursts in on her band performance to let her know he accepts her as she is ... at the top of his lungs from the back of a crowded auditorium. Classic.

Except, not really. Name one other television show that has dealt with that particular issue in a similarly direct and compassionate manner. I'll wait.

And that's the real power of Freaks and Geeks. It wasn't afraid of taking on this big, weird, frightening thing we call growing up. Though the title characters are (by definition) outsiders, this show makes us realize that we are all freaks, we are all geeks. And the sooner we embrace that, the happier we'll be.

Well, maybe not happier, per se.

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