By Matty Hume
CALGARY – About 20 years ago, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow poured their hearts into the birth of TV’s anti-hero dramady — a coming-of-age opus that foreshadowed the stardom of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Samm Levine, Martin Starr, John Francis Daley and on and on. Freaks and Geeks made its awkward, dorky and candid debut on NBC on September 25, 1999. Now, in 2018, the story of that program is chronicled in the long overdue Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary. If you cheered on your favourite losers during the year it was on air or crunched through the 18 episodes on Netflix this side of 2012, you’ll be a puddle of emotions within two minutes of this doc.
The Documentary exists as an accessible one-hour distillation of the success, insecurity, failures and survival of failures through the support of others in adolescence that the original show put forward — but for a brand new audience. It opens with a genuine reflection of high school experiences from the familiar voices of Freaks and Geeks stars, followed by a title sequence backed by a washed-out, adagio cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” the song that opened the every episode of the classic single-camera sitcom. Over the next 70 minutes, the doc outlines the life of Freaks and Geeks, from Feig’s initial pitch to Apatow at a comedian party house to the cast and crew’s sentimental prom-themed, wrap-up party following the show’s cancellation.
Even if you have no intention to consume Freaks and Geeks in all its glory (although you should), make this documentary a priority. What allows Freaks and Geeks to remain iconic is it’s authentic portrayal of many a high school student in mid-western North America. The documentary allows viewers to see a room of writers throw their most embarrassing, heart wrenching and formative moments at a wall and seeing it all stick.
Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary, like the original show, will connect with any audience that walked in a high school foyer. Don’t sleep through your alarm for this one.
Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary will screen during CUFF on Sunday April 22, 6:30 pm at The Globe CinemaCUFF, Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary, The Globe Cinema