‘Freaks and Geeks’ turns lives of teens inside out


Cami Culbertson

Juniors Chanee Woo and Alice Ma counting out syllables for a haiku they have to write for their class.

Cami Culbertson and Shelby Haskett

Dr. Jenny Howell enjoys watching “trashy” shows. 

“I turn my hobby, which is watching sometimes trashy television, into a class,” Howell said. 

She brought her hobby into a class named “Freaks & Geeks: Teens on Television,” in which students watch the show,Freaks and Geeks and examine how accurately it portrays teenagers. 

“It’s a topic that you can be really thoughtful about, but it’s also fun,” Howell said. “People really like watching television, and it’s because it gives them a wide variety of shows to watch, and it’s very fun watching television as your homework.”

Her class was created to help students take a deep dive into how producers bring teen shows to life. From the actors who are cast to the plot line, they discuss and debate how teens now can and can’t relate to the characters in the show. 

The show “Freaks and Geeks” follows the life of two siblings navigating high school, in a way Howell describes as “not glamorous and not very exciting.” 

“Its sense of humor is different, which I think makes it an interesting comparison,” she said.

In order to really compare the change in portrayal of teenagers, Dr. Howell told the students to watch a teen show of their choosing outside of class and once a week they discussed their chosen show in comparison to “Freaks & Geeks.” The spectrum of shows students watched was vast and diverse, ranging from shows such as “Beverly Hills: 90210”,“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “The Society” 

Though on the surface all these shows seem different, they all share one quality – the universal teenage experience. 

“At the end of the day we’re all still teenagers. We kind of all share that teenage mentality even if it’s a little different,” junior Max De la Rosa said.

Max was joined by his peers in a class filled entirely with juniors, which was a sign of its popularity. Although he was the only boy in the class and his experience was a little different, he was still able to relate to the inherent idea of teenhood. 

 “Everyone gets embarrassed; everyone is self conscious,” he said.

Students were able to relate to the ideas about teenhood presented in the show even if they weren’t able to relate to the characters’ specific experiences. 

“It’s not a super romanticized version of high school,” said junior Callie Bream. “Like the freshman boys really look like freshman boys; they’re not played by 25-year-old actors or anything.”