Here's Why 'Freaks And Geeks' Didn't Make It

by Mary Grace Garis

The beautiful thing about living in the era of streaming is that you have the ability to resurrect and relive shows that were gone too soon. By "gone too soon" shows, I of course specifically mean Freaks and Geeks, the beloved Paul Feig-created and Judd Apatow-produced series that barely survived 18 magical episodes before getting the axe. It is a show that, almost two decades later, I still can't get over, and, with every re-watch, I end up wondering how Freaks and Geeks got cancelled.

With a hub of talent including Apatow regulars (Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel) as well Linda Cardellini and Busy Phillips, it seems incredulous that NBC would let them go. But timing is incredibly important when it comes to explaining why Freaks and Geeks couldn't make it to that second season. In a lot of ways, the world wasn't ready, and, in a lot of other ways, the network wasn't patient. A 2017 audience is definitely more willing to embrace the series than a 2000 audience was, and that's something to keep in mind if the boys want to push out a reunion reboot.

But, if you're just looking for concrete reasons to pacify you, then feel free to scroll down and gain your peace of mind.


The Time Slot Kept Moving Around

This is a concrete reason that definitely damned the show. NBC originally broadcasted the show Saturdays at 8 p.m. (a dead zone time where most viewers would be out) and kept moving it around from that point forward.


Not Everyone Got The Off-Putting Sense Of Humor

Don't try looking for a laugh track here; this show went the deadpan route before it became the norm.


And It Had A Tone Unbecoming For Sitcoms

It was really more of realism-soaked dramedy, and there's a sophistication there that no one was ready for.


And Plenty Of Bizarro Storylines

You know what? There wasn't like a single normal relationship arc to entertain folks. Every story (interpersonal or otherwise) came with a huge heap of disfunction.


The Then-Unconventional Casting

I mean, TV sitcoms are supposed to focus on unrealistically beautiful teenagers (read: 25-year-olds), and it's a show about freaks and geeks. Even though Cardellini is a babe underneath that army jacket, Franco was probably the only regulation hottie in the group.


And That Casting Had Nary A Big Name At The Time

Of course this is funny in retrospect, because nearly everyone in that cast has exploded to some level of stardom.


Apatow Kept Going Against The Grain

Apatow routinely went against the producers wishes. In 2014, Rogen allegedly confronted the man who canceled Freaks and Geeks, and they had an exchange about Apatow's disobedience: "He was like, 'You know, I kept telling Judd, 'Give them a victory, give them a victory!' I was like, 'The whole show was about how in high school, you always lose all the time.'"



It Wasn't Drawing Awards

It was drawing praise, sure, but praise does not automatically equal Emmys, a tangible bargaining chip.


Fan Campaigns Had Less Influence Back In The Day

This is just a tragedy of the times. While letter-writing and fan forums did have some sway (and one campaign managed to allow three episodes to air), you couldn't just tweet a show out of cancellation or resuscitate it on a streaming service.


Ratings, Dude

I could've started and ended the article with simply this. It wasn't drawing in enough of an audience, which basically meant...


It Wasn't A Huge Cash Cow For NBC

We consume television a lot differently these days, but, back in 2000, sponsorships meant so much more. And without those high ratings, sponsors didn't want to put their money on things. Not to mention the fact that a period piece set in the early '80s didn't have a lot of product ties to throw in there.

And that's the bottom line: Freaks and Geeks did not make enough money to stay on air. However, we can rest easy knowing Apatow, Fieg, and the rest of the fam are all doing fine, and flashback to that happy time on Netflix whenever we want.