Paul Feig’s NBC high school comedy “Freaks and Geeks” is at or near the top of any list naming the greatest television series canceled after one series. It’s also on a lot of lists of the greatest television shows ever made, too. But it turns out a second season could’ve happened thanks to MTV. With “Freaks and Geeks” coming to digital for the first time, executive producer Judd Apatow revealed to Collider that he turned down MTV’s offer to produce a second season after NBC axed the comedy after 18 episodes.
“When the show was canceled, there was an offer from MTV to continue making the show at a much lower budget,” Apatow said. “And we all decided we didn’t want to do a weaker version of the show.”
Apatow wrote and directed several episodes of “Freaks and Geeks,” as did creator Feig. The “Bridesmaids” filmmaker said that to make the series at a lower budget would mean losing “so much stuff and music and budgets. We were already always strained on our budget as it was,” Feig added.
“I was so thrown and we’d worked so hard on that show. I mean, you say it looked like a movie, that’s really how we treated it,” Feig said about the exhaustive effort it took just to create the show’s first season at a higher budget than what MTV was offering. “So, we were ready to drop at the end of those 18 episodes.”
Feig’s mother passed away just two days before NBC informed him the show was being canceled. The creator said, “I think I had a moment of like, ‘I can’t even deal with any of this.’ And then very quickly after the decision [to turn MTV down was] made, then you’re kind of like, ‘Oh my God, what did we do? Could we have pulled it off if we had done it?’”
He continued, “There’s moments so many times I go like, ‘Wow, we just got away with these 18 episodes,’ and I’m sure we would’ve done other great episodes, another great season. But at the same time, it’s set in amber now and there’s something lovely about that.”
Feig sees the finite nature of “Freaks and Geeks” as an advantage. “People always go, ‘Oh, it’s so sad you never got to end the series.’ It’s like, ‘Well, we did end the series,’” he said. “That whole episode was about how everybody gets put on a different path. And we do that at the end of the series because it’s like when you graduate high school, you don’t know where half the people you went to high school with go.”
“Freaks and Geeks” is now available to own digitally Amazon, iTunes, Google, and more.