This weekend, I was in Houston with Jarren, and we dedicated a good chunk of our spare time watching the Freaks and Geeks DVDs… For those who don’t know, all 18 episodes of the short-lived but beloved NBC series can be seen in DVD form. It’s well worth it, for a show that died before its time.
But, what was interesting to me was the timing of watching the show during the opening weekend of Nacho Libre (which opened #2 at the box office). Why? Just look at the talent behind the scenes of Freaks and Geeks: not only did the series provide a breeding ground for Paul (“The Huffington Post”) Feig and Judd (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) Apatow, but it also united writer/producer Mike White with director/producer Jake Kasdan. Both White and Kasdan had already made a name for themselves prior to the show, with Chuck & Buck and The Zero Effect, respectively. But the two would join forces for a 2002 film called Orange County. That film would feature a stand-out performance by an actor/comedian named Jack Black. Black and White would then reteam for Richard Linklater’s The School of Rock. This successful combo later led to White writing/producing Nacho Libre… to star Jack Black.
So, am I suggesting that Nacho Libre was spawned by Freaks and Geeks? As faulty an argument as it may be, yes. Yes I am. More than that, I’d argue that Freaks and Geeks helped turn Jack Black into a celebrity. The aforementioned Judd Apatow gained early career traction by writing for The Ben Stiller Show, as well as the movie Heavy Weights (starring Stiller), and producing The Cable Guy (directed by Stiller). It’s well-known that Jack Black got a big comedy-acting boost thanks to Stiller (which would briefly stumble when they teamed up for Envy). So, next time Freaks and Geeks fans bemoan the show’s premature death, just remember: its legacy lives on to this day.