16. Freaks and Geeks
Air Dates: September 25, 1999-July 8, 2000
Stars: Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Samm Levine, Busy Phillips, Joe Flaherty, Beck Ann Baker
Don't get us wrong, we love this show. Freaks and Geeks was ahead of its time, a sign of the talky Apatow comedies that bring on smiles and real feelings. It was a show about teenagers dealing with the other side of the game: being a misfit in suburbia. Just to make things more interesting, the show was set in 1980, allowing a generation of adults to relive their awkward teen years. Especially if we're talking about white folks.
The setting was the fictional Detroit suburb of Chippewa, where Lindsay Weir and her little brother Sam lived with their parents. Lindsay, a smart and good natured girl, was going through that phase that many teens go through: Trying to find a group of friends consistent with their personal evolution. She started hanging out with a group of slackers, alienating her former friends, confusing her parents and ultimately herself.
Sam had a completely different struggle, as he and his nerdy band of friends tried to cope with being at the bottom rung of high school's hierarchy.
Despite all of its greatness and the brilliance of Judd Apatow, Freaks and Geeks is still a pretty undeniably "white" television show—the suburbs are a bubble in fundamental ways.
Think of a brilliant debut album that was over most consumers' heads at the time, like Reasonable Doubt for example. Freaks and Geeks is its equivalent, as it's the Holy Bible for being an out of place white teenager during the early '80s. Apatow could probably tell you that himself, Reasonable Doubt reference and all.