TV reunions are seemingly all the rage right now, but in truth they’ve been a thing for decades. Curb Your Enthusiasm found a way to get the Seinfeld gang back together for a season-long arc with the actors playing themselves; The X-Files, Twin Peaks, and Gilmore Girls took the “limited series” route to check back in on their characters; and Friends went for the pure nostalgia play with their HBO Max reunion special. But there’s one major TV reunion fans have been clamoring for that remains one of the most exciting possibilities: Freaks and Geeks.
The NBC drama series from creator Paul Feig took a bracingly honest look at high school life, tackling issues and storylines so specific they felt universally relatable. Unfortunately, despite critical acclaim the network cancelled the series after one season, and it remains an 18-episode time capsule from 1999-2000.
But not only is the premise of Freaks and Geeks perfect for a reunion given that the characters can easily reunite for a high school reunion, but the cast of young newcomers at the time have virtually all gone on to become huge stars. Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, and Samm Levine would be a tremendously exciting cast in the year 2021, and it’s a testament to the show’s casting that these actors were selected to lead this series before they all became known quantities in their own right.
Thus far, however, Feig has eschewed the idea of a Freaks and Geeks reunion. So when I spoke separately to Feig and executive producer Judd Apatow recently to celebrate the release of the show on Digital platforms for the first time ever, I asked how they’re each feeling about the prospect of a reunion right now. For Feig, he’s open to the idea should inspiration strike, but is also well aware of the pitfalls of doing a reunion:
“I would say if suddenly this amazing idea hit me, then, sure, I would do it, but I’m just nervous about it. Because you can count on your hand the number of reunions where you went like, ‘Oh, I’m so glad they did that.’ After you watch it, you’re almost always like, ‘Hmm, I kinda wish they didn’t do that.’ (laughs).”
Feig did note, however, that they still have plenty of time to decide given that their cast is so young, and acknowledged there’s interest from pretty much everyone involved if they had the right idea:
“We’re all pretty clever and have a lot of stories to tell. And also the nice thing is our cast is so young. And so it’s not like one of those reunions where you’re like, ‘Ooh, look how old they all are now.’ But now our cast is just all famous. So I always joke that we couldn’t afford to do it because they all cost too much now (laughs). But I know that there’s interest from them. I think everybody’s interested in it. It would just have to be so great that it just added to the canon, if you will. But, hey, I never say no to anything.”
When I spoke to Apatow, he similarly said “never say never” but hilariously noted that it was a reunion that specifically factored into the show’s downfall in the first place:
“I am a fan of the reunions as a viewer, but not as making them (laughs). A lot of what you like about reunions is they’re fun when they work, and when they’re nightmares, they’re fun to see how they don’t work. I remember when we were doing the show, they did a Mary and Rhoda movie, which I don’t believe was as strong as you would want it to be, and it crushed us in the ratings and was part of our downfall (laughs).”
Apatow also mentioned the fact that the Freaks and Geeks finale episode, “Discos and Dragons,” is such a perfect sendoff that they risk mucking up their goodbye:
“I never say never to anything, but it always felt like the last episode was oddly perfect and magical. We didn’t quite understand why, but it seemed like a way to say goodbye to everyone. So then to open up that door and explain everything that happened always feels like too big a prospect. We also have always thought that a lot of their lives wouldn’t have gone that well, and who wants to see that? (laughs) So I know Paul has always felt like, let’s just leave it where it is. That being said, I want The Jam to get back together. I want to see The Kinks. So I get why people want it.”
When I asked if there have been offers from networks or studios to make a reunion, Apatow said that Feig “never entertains anything serious” so it’s a pretty quick no. But hearing both of them talk about it here, recently, it does sound like they’re both warming a bit to the idea of getting the gang back together for something – as long as it doesn’t mess with the legacy the show has solidified over the last two decades.
As a huge fan of the series I trust that if a Freaks and Geeks reunion happens, it’s because Feig has come up with a worthwhile reason to do it. And if it doesn’t happen, we still have those brilliant 18 episodes to enjoy over and over again. A moment captured in time, unchanging but alive all the same.
Look for my full interviews with Feig and Apatow on Collider soon. Freaks and Geeks is now available to purchase on digital platforms for the first time ever, including Amazon, iTunes, and Google.
The survival thriller has just wrapped in New Zealand and is coming to streaming in 2022.
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