Monday, October 15, 2007

James Franco at the Five & Dime

Freaks and Geeks (1999)
created by Judd Apatow & Paul Feig
rating: 4 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from As Seen On TV

Like most fans, I appreciate the absence of adults in Peanuts. Whatever the fuss about Charles Schulz, his comic strip is melancholy. Kids clarify the contradictions in man with an unconscious introspection the insecurities of adults obscure. Fine. But that means that Peanuts isn't really about kids.

Freaks and Geeks, like The 400 Blows, Home Movies, or the fourth season of The Wire, is. Their parents make bad decisions, often with good intentions, but good or bad, adult figures frame these teenagers' lives. The teenagers share the camaraderie of competing against expectations at an age when excitement is the baseline emotion.

A fiction about kids is maybe the toughest script to write, but Freaks and Geeks did it with grace, sweetness, and charm. And unlike a lot of shows, it had the perfect run: a year in the life of high school friends, and even longer than that to them. To paraphrase someone else, what else does sixteen give you?