No television series typifies the status of “cult classic” quite like the short-lived teen comedy Freaks and Geeks, which built a loyal following in the years after being taken off the air. Created by screenwriter and director Judd Apatow, of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Trainwreck fame, the show starred a regular murderer’s row of actors who have since been catapulted into A-list celebrity levels of fame.
Before its time in more ways than one, the series seamlessly blends comedy and drama to more accurately capture what it’s like to navigate high school life than any previous series has. While it only lasted one season before being tragically taken off the airwaves, it finally found its audience when it was added to streaming services, achieving a massive fanbase years after the fact. Now that so many actors from the show, whether playing major parts or appearing as guest stars in a single episode, have had major acting careers develop, it’s even more rewarding to watch the origin of so many silver-screen and small-screen legends. From stars we recognize in hit sitcoms to lesser-known actors excelling in character actor roles or talk shows, here’s where the Freaks and Geeks cast landed in the twenty years since it originally aired.
This Is Why Freaks And Geeks Was Cancelled
The failure of Freaks and Geeks ultimately comes down to sabotage from the network, NBC, whether intentional or not. At the time it aired, 1999, long before the era of streaming, and even before the era of TiVo and On Demand television, time slots were everything. The show was initially given a Saturday night time slot, which is notoriously tough for gaining an audience. What was worse it that they didn’t air episodes every week, with gaps between episodes resulting in a dwindling of viewership, which ultimately killed the show.
Busy Philipps Has Been….Busy
In the show, Busy Philipps plays bully Kim Kelly. A member of the “freaks”, Philipps’ character nails the mean girl persona. Since the show went off air, Busy has had stints on television series like Dawson’s Creek,ER, and Cougar Town, as well as supporting roles in several blockbuster hit movies, from White Chicks to Made of Honor. She even briefly hosted her own talk show, called Busy Tonight, on E!, and most recently appeared on the highly-rated comedy series Girls5eva.
Linda Cardellini Made A Comeback On Netflix
Linda Cardellini was the main character, Lindsay Weir, on Freaks and Geeks. She perfectly portrays the role of a teen girl caught between wanting to be kind to her family and do well in school, but tempted by the popular crowd who like to drink and party. Since her big break, she’s been in and out of the public eye, appearing on ER, and then coming back on two Netflix original series, the drama Bloodline and the dark comedy Dead to Me.
James Franco Teaches A Class On Showbiz
James Franco’s career has seen a meteoric rise since he first appeared as a goofy stoner on the high school series. A frequent collaborator with Freaks and Geeks costar Seth Rogen, Franco has starred in films as diverse as animated comedy Sausage Party and thrilling based-on-a-true-story adventure film 127 Hours. Not only is he a prolific film and television actor, but Franco is also known for doing a stint as a film professor at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
Jason Segel Is A Lovable Sitcom Star
Jason Segel played the main love interest in Freaks and Geeks, nailing the sweet, lovable teddy bear role that would go on to land him major roles such as the star of rom-com Forgetting Sarah Marshall and a big part on hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother. On the latter, he plays Marshall Eriksen, best friend of the main character Ted Moseby and in a long term relationship with Alyson Hannigan’s character, playing the perfect foil to Ted’s constant search for love.
Lizzy Caplan Became A “Master Of Sex” On Showtime
Lizzy Caplan is better known for her role as quirky outsider Janis Ian in the classic teen movie Mean Girls, than for her role as a disco-lover on Freaks and Geeks. Since appearing on the series, and becoming an anti-establishment icon in her star turn as Janis, Caplan has been in the hilarious comedy Party Down, about the lives of aspiring actors who work as cater-waiters in Los Angeles, as well as the period piece Masters of Sex, about the first real research done on human sexuality.
Seth Rogen Is A Stoner-Comedy Icon
The Canadian-born comic actor first moved to Los Angeles for his role on Freaks and Geeks which jumpstarted an incredibly successful career in Hollywood. After appearing in Apatow’s television series, he scored roles in several of the screenwriter/director’s bigger movie projects such as Knocked Up and Funny People. He also wrote and starred in hit comedy movies like Superbad and even directed This Is The End and The Interview. He does voice acting as well, lending his iconic sound to movies like Kung Fu Panda and the 2019 version of The Lion King.
Becky Ann Baker Made An Appearance On HBO’s Girls
Becky Ann Baker played the mom, Jean Weir, on Freaks and Geeks, landing staunchly in character actor territory after being cast as Lena Dunham’s mother on HBO’s Girls. The riotous comedy series earned Dunham as much praise as it did criticism, but Baker’s character got nothing but rave reviews. While she has appeared in smaller roles in nearly 40 films, it’s her two similar television roles that have earned her the most accolades, such as Critics Choice Awards and Primetime Emmy nominations.
Martin Starr Became A Tech Whiz On Silicon Valley
Martin Starr played a lovable nerd on the show, friends with Lindsay’s younger brother. These days, not much has changed, as Starr is still cashing in on playing a tech-savvy young adult. After co-starring with Lizzy Caplan on Party Down, Starr landed a role on the HBO comedy Silicon Valley, which pokes fun at the tech startup culture of the Bay Area. He recurred on all six seasons of the show, while also appearing in several films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rashida Jones Starred On Parks And Recreation
Rashida Jones may have only had a major appearance in the fourth episode of the show, she left quite an impression as a mean girl a la Busy Philipps’ performance. Since then, she’s has a small role on the hit sitcom The Office, before becoming a major character on the similarly popular show Parks and Recreation. While one of her first acting roles was as a bully on Freaks and Geeks her largest role to date on Parks and Rec is as nurse and general do-gooder Ann Perkins, who would never hurt a fly.