This Week In History: Freaks and Geeks Gets Cancelled Early

This week in 2000, the groundbreaking and highly acclaimed comedy series Freaks and Geeks was cancelled before it even finished its first season.

Despite being considered one of the greatest television comedies of all time, Freaks and Geeks was cancelled during its first and only season. The series launched the acting careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and many others. The series’ acclaim elevated creator Paul Fieg (who would go on to direct Bridesmaids) and executive producer Judd Apatow, whose prolific
film and television career was just beginning.

Freaks and Geeks won an Emmy for its casting, which also included Linda Cardellini (ER, Mad Men, Bloodline, Avengers), John Francis Daley (Bones, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Martin Starr (Party Down, Knocked Up, Silicon Valley), Samm Levine (Inglourious Basterds) and Busy Philipps (Dawson’s Creek, Cougar Town).

The series was praised for its realistic portrayal of American public school life that featured relate-able multi-dimensional characters. Authenticity was something creator Paul Fieg strove for when creating Freaks and Geeks, and many of the events in the show actually happened to him or one of the other writers.

Despite the critical acclaim, the show was sadly cancelled due to disappointing ratings. Its problematic time slot pitted the show against Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, one of the most popular shows of its day. It was cancelled midway through its first season, with the remaining episodes airing later in the year after a fan campaign persuaded NBC to share them. Freaks and Geeks has continued its cult status nearly twenty years later, but there are no plans to revive the show.