Freaks And Geeks

FREAKS AND GEEKS on Sundance Channel — Watch your favorite episodes with creator Paul Feig

Happy New Year! And if your 2012 resolution is to watch every episode of FREAKS AND GEEKS, then you are in luck. Starting tonight at 7 PM et/pt, Sundance Channel will air them all — including the ones that never saw the light of broadcast. This is the perfect opportunity to reminisce about a time before TV got all Real Housewives and Teen Mom (1999-2000, to be precise). It’s also your chance to get that one friend who has never seen the show hooked. To help us dig deeper into one of the most beloved (by us indie nerds, at least), short-lived TV shows, SUNfiltered spoke to the show’s creator, Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS), over the holidays.

Feig has had a lot of success since FREAKS, but the show itself grew out of his struggles as an independent filmmaker. He wrote the pilot while driving around the Midwest trying to get his feature film, LIFE SOLD SEPARATELY, screened anywhere that would have him. The film starred two of the eventual FREAKS teachers, (Mr. Rosso and Mr. Kowchevski, duh). Feig started writing the pilot just to stay sane, but it eventually helped him get the career he had always dreamed of. It also helped launch the careers of a few folks you may have heard of, including Prom King of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival James Franco (127 HOURS), Jason Segal (THE MUPPETS), Busy Philips (Cougartown) and Seth Rogan (50/50).

It’s been 12 years since FREAKS AND GEEKS went off the air, but the mere mention of the show still gets people really excited. Why do you think that is?

It has a very indie spirit to it. We really treated every episode like a little, independent film. People really relate to the characters and it was just a great cast. We kind of had this great harmonic convergence of all these amazing talents in front of the camera and behind the camera. Judd (Apatow, the show’s Executive Producer) is such a strong producer and protector. And the network was so into the show, it was just one of those sort of moments where everything sort of worked. Overall, I think it’s a very relatable show. That’s what killed the show back when it first was on. That slightly more realistic style of television has become more acceptable now than it was in the late nineties. It’s more of a mix of comedy and drama.

You speak very fondly of the show. How would you characterize your relationship with it? If FREAKS AND GEEKS was a person, how would you describe that past relationship to someone?

It’s my child. It was based on my life and there was so much personal stuff that I got to put in there and so much personal stuff that other people got to put in. All of the divorce stuff was really from Judd’s upbringing. It’s all of our babies! And at the risk of sounding like an old man, the kids — it was all kids in the cast, even though some were in their 20s at the time. You were kind of there during their weird, formative years and so we felt very protective of them. You know, Judd was like the dad and I was like the mom, it was very bizarre, but nice! I take great pride in the fact that none of our cast members have committed felonies.

They’ve all turned out really well, so congratulations on that.

To the point where people want us to make a reunion show and I don’t know if I’d want to do that. I don’t want to ruin the memory of what we had. There is nothing worse than a bad reunion show, even just a middling reunion show. Plus, we couldn’t make it because we couldn’t afford the cast; they’re all too big now.

Do you ever watch the show?

I haven’t in years only because it’s too depressing for me to watch the show. It was a very sad thing when that got taken off the air, because those characters were so alive because of those actors; we just couldn’t wait to write for them the next season. When it went away it was just a really painful thing because it’s like watching home movies of a relationship that fell apart. Maybe now that it’s airing on Sundance Channel I’ll watch it again.

FREAKS AND GEEKS airs every weeknight at 7 PM et/pt. Paul will be back to share his thoughts on upcoming episodes and more behind-the-scenes memories.