Friday, November 22, 2013

What's Making Me Happy: November 22

Tuesdays and Thursdays have become my favorite days of the week, because those are the nights I settle in with my kids to watch Freaks & Geeks. The lovely and wise Suze strongly recommended I check this show out and I know by now to listen to her recommendations. Freaks & Geeks, in case you don't know, is about two siblings dealing with life in an American high school circa 1980. It was filmed in 1999 and 2000, and canceled after only one season. It's since become a cult hit—we seem to be drawn to this formula. Excellent show gets canceled early, gathers huge fan base, and eventually we catch up with it on Netflix. We did this with Firefly, Pushing Daisies, and Better off Ted, too. And if you haven't seen any of these shows? You are in for a serious treat.

Judd Apatow's work: you may recognize some faces
Freaks & Geeks was the perfect show to watch with my kids: It's got the 80s nostalgia thing going on for me, especially with the music: Rush, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Styx. But someone put an enormous amount of effort into the set, too, which has all manner of early-80s paraphernalia, from Atari game consoles to the type of corded phones people used to the cars they drove and the clothes they wore. For my kids, the problems the Weir siblings faced were amazingly relevant to their own problems. My kids are roughly the same age as Lindsey and Sam, so this was the perfect time to watch the show. With every episode, we must have paused the show a dozen times to talk about something similar that happened to them ... or to me, back in my day: the generation gap magically disappeared. It also brought up subjects like drugs and awkward first kisses, which led to some discussions we'd probably never have had otherwise.

I am using the past tense because we finally finished the show last night. This is making me both happy and sad, but I'll focus on the happy. It's the same satisfaction you get when you finish a good book, only this was a group activity, so it was even more satisfying to finish. I have no doubt we'll go back and re-watch favorite episodes many times. Of the 18 episodes, our favorites tend to be collected near the end, since the show gets off to a slightly clunky start. Within five episodes or so, it really finds its groove. "The Diary" and "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers" may be my favorites.

Have you watched the show? What did you think? Are there other hidden-gem shows you'd recommend? And what is making you happy this week?

21 comments:

  1. 'Freaks and Geeks' was a confluence of excellence, from the actors, to the score, to the set design, to the concept, to the writing (Paul Feig.) I think this is an example of a joint creative effort where all of the ingredients mix up just right and you get Magic Soup.

    'The Diary' is an awesome ep. I love it. At Halloween, we watched 'Tricks and Treats'--we hadn't pulled the show out in years--and Shawn and I looked at each other as little one was sorting her candy stash and just nodded with a smile. The show doesn't lose its freshness. Such a winner. I am so happy that you've profiled it! I hope lots of your readers will check it out as a result of your happiness post. I know reading it has made me happy. Especially the idea of you and your kids making your way through it together. It makes me look forward even more to the years to come with my little one. :) :)

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    1. I love how the parents, especially Mrs. Weir, are developed as the show continues ... especially in The Diary, where she comes across most fully as her own person rather than the Stock Parent of a show focusing on teens. I love that the Weir family is loving and goofily functional. I love that my kids kept looking at me and going, "Jeez, Mom, I'm glad *you* aren't like that" about mistakes the various parents made. (It's always nice to compare positively!) And I loved the way the show occasionally reached out to follow the side characters, like Bill and Neil, down their respective rabbit holes. I thought the bit about the gym teacher and Bill was crazily sweet; it actually brought tears to my eyes.

      It was quite a thump on the head when I realized Martin Starr, who plays Bill, is the same guy who plays the stoner in Knocked Up, though! Lots of overlap with later Apatow stuff, which was kind of fascinating in itself.

      Thank you for recommending this to me. :)

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  2. Also, looking over at your 'Books I've Read' list, it might be cool to provide hyperlinks to any reviews you've written about them. I had the impulse to pass my cursor over a few of them for your thoughts. :)

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    1. I would love to hyperlink to reviews I've done. But I don't see a way in that gadget to do hyperlinks. :/ I am on Goodreads, and I tend to review most of my books there, fwiw. I will play around with the gadget more, see if I can sort it out.

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    2. I added that Goodreads widget but it's very wide, and there seems no way to control the width (it just bleeds onto the text when you try to adjust the column width) so I'm not sure if I'll keep it.

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  3. No, I've never seen this show before, but the eighties don't resonate with me nearly as much as the fifties and sixties. What I love is that you and your kids were able to watch the show together and use it as a launching pad for discussion. That's awesome!

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    1. In some ways the 80s don't really resonate with me, either, in that I'm not really a nostalgic person generally and prefer to stay firmly rooted in the present ... I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this little trip back. And how nice it was to have an excuse to tell some of my "days of yore" stories to my kids.

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  4. My oldest kids went to high school in the '80s and I'm going to watch the show by myself. I remember there was an awful lot of emphasis on going to the right colleges and getting rich. My kids knew I was told simply to get a job I didn't mind too much and do it til I retired. Does the show address that sort of thing? I'll watch it. I got Netflix!

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    1. I don't remember the show focusing much on career choices or college, though one of the two main characters is a brainiac and so on that course ... she's still in the insular world where her choices are more about who she hangs out with that day than what her future looks like.

      I hope you like the show! Pop back in and tell me what you think.

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  5. I've never seen this show. Thanks for spotlighting it.

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    1. Give it a few episodes, if you decide to try it. It takes a while to find its groove.

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  6. Love that show. We also love all of the others you mentioned and watched them in the same way! If you liked Pushing Daisies, you should give Wonderfalls a try.

    As for F&G, there is so much to love. My favorite part, however, may be how they incorporated Dungeons and Dragons. James Franco as Carlos the Dwarf - downright inspired.

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    1. I played a little D&D with my big brother and his pals, but I was too young really to get it and didn't stick with it, so that episode went over my head a bit. (Except it was sweet, if somewhat unlikely, to see the Freak bonding with the Geeks.) Wonderfalls ... thanks for the suggestion! We will be shopping around for a new show to love. :)

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  7. I seriously can't believe I have never seen this show. I need to remedy that!

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    1. Yay! I love the idea of sharing this show; I'm like an F&G proselytizer. :) I hope you love it! At any rate, it's not much of a commitment, is it? (That was actually a big plus for me.)

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  8. I've never watched it either, though it would be right up my alley. Graduated in, gah, '81. I'm reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell right now, and it's about high schoolers in 1986. Very nostalgic read for me because of the music and other 80's stuff mentioned. :))

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    1. I bought that book after hearing such great reviews, and I bought Fangirl right afterwards. I just know I'm going to love these books, I merely have to set aside the time to read them. Hey, speaking of 80s nostalgia, have you read Ready Player One? Have we already talked about this? Maybe we have. I wasn't a huge gamer in the 80s but there's all *sorts* of nostalgia to be had there. Funky storyline, too.

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  9. I haven't seen this one, but maybe I'll check it out. --And I completely agree with you: Firefly, Pushing Daisies and Better of Ted are shows NOT to be missed. ;)

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    1. It's only a tragedy they all ended too soon!

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  10. I haven't, but now I really know I want to! We had an Atari (albeit a hand-me-down :P )

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