Freaks and Geeks

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Freaks and Geeks TV Poster Image
Stellar teen dramedy explores angst, experimentation.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

A mixed bag. Themes addressed are empathy and self-control. The series explores self-awareness and expression, and in some cases, teens’ experiments with “finding themselves” result in positive growth. However, peer pressure often swings the other way, leading kids into negative situations like underage drinking and breaking family rules. On the plus side, the series does show realistic implications of much of this behavior. Other serious issues like family problems, marital infidelity, and cheating are handled in a thoughtful but humorous way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the teens appear to be models of how not to act -- ditching class, cheating, stealing, and defacing other people’s property, for instance, but their inner experiences and emotions show the other side of the coin. Many male characters are sensitive and share their feelings with their friends; the "geeks" are especially close and support each other through challenging times. The Weir parents are a constant presence in their kids’ lives and encourage responsibility and hard work.

Violence

Brief fistfights and scuffles among teens rarely result in injury.

Sex

Sexuality is a common topic among teens, who talk about having sex and wanting to have sex. Couples kiss, make out, and touch each other suggestively (patting each other’s butts and fondling breasts, for instance), but there’s no nudity. Some storylines follow teens’ decisions to not have sex, which is presented in a positive light.

Language

“Damn,” “hell,” “ass,” and “bitch,” as well as “slut” and “loser.”

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink, smoke, and use marijuana, often without serious immediate consequences.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Freaks and Geeks is a witty, well-cast dramedy from Judd Apatow that ran for one season. It deserves its place among fans’ favorites, but its content is too mature for tweens. Much of the show centers on fringe high school students who smoke, drink, and have sex (though that’s talked about rather than shown) rather than striving for success in school. Language is another concern (“damn,” “hell,” “ass,” and “bitch” are common), and there’s plenty of stereotyping (“jocks,” “burnouts,” “in crowd,” etc.). That said, the show does strive for some reality in its content, and its honest take on adolescent angst will appeal to teens and adults who tune in.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymissbrown0109 June 7, 2011

Freaks & Geeks - A Great Resource for Relevant Material

I discovered Freaks & Geeks as a college student, while exploring cult television classics. Suggested by a friend, I was instantly captivated by the sin... Continue reading
Adult Written byihavegoodideas December 27, 2011

Must Read!!

To the writer of this hysterical comedy, you should totally make another episode. Except this episode should be their highschool reunion. And you could make it... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 4, 2011

cool

good for my kids
Teen, 16 years old Written byHeheGonzalo August 16, 2016

What's the story?

FREAKS AND GEEKS is a dramedy series set in the early ‘80s that centers on two groups of students at a fictional Michigan high school. Former model student Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) has found a new niche among the school’s burnouts -- Kim (Busy Phillips), Daniel (James Franco), Ken (Seth Rogen), and Nick (Jason Segel) -- a move that confounds her parents and teachers, who fear she’s risking her future hanging out with the slacker crowd. Lindsay’s younger brother, Sam (John Francis Daley), and his friends, Bill (Martin Starr) and Neil (Samm Levine), constitute the show’s “geeks,” and their opposing social status results in a vastly different high school experience from that of the “freaks.” Other recurring characters include the Weirs’ conservative parents, Harold (Joe Flaherty) and Jean (Becky Ann Baker); Sam’s love interest and popular cheerleader, Cindy (Natasha Melnick); and Lindsay’s former best friend and all-around good girl, Millie (Sarah Hagan).

Is it any good?

Despite consisting of just 18 episodes, this series earned accolades among fans for its sharp writing and comical, but honest portrayal of the uncertainties of teen life. All of the characters struggle to identify themselves within the context of their social environment, and anyone who’s lived through those formative years will relate to their feelings of uncertainty and angst. Freaks and Geeks boasts an extremely talented cast, evident by the fact that most of the members have gone on to notable careers in television and film.

Not surprisingly, though, this teen-centered show has a lot of content that’s not meant for kids. There’s underage drinking and smoking, some drug use (marijuana in small doses), a fair amount of language, references to sexual relationships among teens, and plenty of negative role models among Lindsay’s friends. Those taking in this content from beyond the teen years can afford to chuckle over it, and the show does make a conscious effort to present some realistic consequences for unsavory behavior. In the end, though, tweens will absorb the wrong messages from what they see, so it’s best to keep this one for yourself and your mature teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotyping. What instances of stereotyping exist in Freaks and Geeks? Do the characters reflect the groups you see among your peers? To what degree is stereotyping necessary for the comedy to be effective?

  • Can you relate to the characters’ troubles in this show? If so, how? Would the show be any more effective if it were set more recently? What, if any, messages is the show attempting to send to viewers?

  • Families can discuss the issues raised in each episode. How do your observations of drinking, smoking, and other adult behavior differ between your peer set and the characters in this show? How are the issues you face and those on the show similar? Can you relate to their struggles with self-awareness and direction?

  • How do the characters in Freaks and Geeks learn and demonstrate empathy and self-control? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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