Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Don't Give A Damn About My Reputation

Dear Judd Apatow... I'm very glad you've moved on and had a bucket full of success in Hollywood. You're a funny guy, and you deserve it. Please keep the funny coming.



Now for the rest of you: can you please shut up about what a travesty it is that Freaks And Geeks was cancelled? It was a terribly funny show that was ahead of the curve, but never found an audience and got axed. Your bellyaching will not bring it back. Especially since most of the cast is now edging on their 30s, and is way past believable as high-schoolers.

You see, I was a little late on the show. But I did start watching it not long before it went off the air. And I enjoyed it. When it was cancelled, I was sad. It may seem like sacriliege, but I think I may have even enjoyed Undeclared, Apatow's follow-up show even more. And when that, too, got cancelled, I was, again, saddened.

I was reading the review of one of his more recent production successes, The Pineapple Express, this morning, and F&G is mentioned twice. Once, I could understand - to let the reader know that Seth Rogen and James Franco starred together in the show, which was directed by the producer of the current film. But there's the usual lip service to how the TV show was "one of the most honest and hilariously endearing shows about teenagers ever to air on network television" (gag). Really? Is that necessary? We can all bemoan the loss of good things that weren't given the chance to develop (Arrested Development, The Ben Stiller Show, The Dana Carvey Show, Dead Like Me, Men Behaving Badly...), but after nine years, somebody needs to put an end to the whining in places that aren't appropriate for it.

The time has come to let that rotting, bloated corpse that we all love LIE. It's been almost a decade since it was cancelled, and I think we can all get on with our lives. All the featured players have moved on to something else, and Apatow's writing/directing/producing has probably given us more laughs SINCE that show went off the air than the entire run had in it. And it was a funny, funny show. That said, I have never laughed as hard in a movie theater as I laughed at The 40 Year Old Virgin. Let's not forget the fact that Anchorman, Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, and, once again, The Pineapple Express have all been solid-to-great (despite the fact that Jonah Hill usually rubs me the wrong way), and while Apatow hasn't directed them all, he's certainly created enough moments to not be defined as "The Guy That Did Freaks And Geeks", right?

My only complaint at the time about Freaks And Geeks was the early '80s setting. And nowadays, I completely understand the choice to do that, given Apatow's age and the way that era lent itself to the overarching tone of the show. Back then, however, it didn't connect with me, maybe because I didn't get the fact that the whole "Morning In America" era was a perfect foil for the confusion and insecurity of high school awakening. I think that may have been lost on a lot of people my age as well, many of whom only "found" it after the DVD release, becuase while the stories and themes were universal (if you were a loser in high school), the setting was not. It felt, at the time, like a little bit of hip posturing for a time that, at the time, wasn't particularly hip. A lot has changed in 9 years, and now that era is super-bad once again, what with new wave haircuts and synth-pop hitting the boutiques again. But I'm finding myself wondering if the fawning devotion to something that didn't have enough viewers in the first place isn't just a case of catching up on a good thing, or maybe even idealizing an object/time of your formative years, just like the setting of the show must have been for the creators. Call me crazy. Maybe I'm reading too far into it, but don't us mid-20-somethings love to make ourselves feel better about ourselves by rewriting our own adolescent history? The dudes that call Pinkerton Weezer's finest moment were the same kids that told me it sucked and I should be listening to Rage Against The Machine instead back in '97.

Judd, you're a-OK in my book, and I dig your stuff. Can you just please tell your fans to get over it, a la William Shatner in that SNL clip where he tells a Star Trek Convention to get a life?

You know how I know YOU'RE like Coldplay? You're fine and dandy, but your fans can be the worst. I think Sloan said that.

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