I’m working my way through Freaks & Geeks, which aired back in 1999 – 2000, before I watched much television. It is, of course, excellent, and I hope to write a post about the series eventually, but I want to comment on episode 7 while it is yet fresh in my mind.
The series takes a break from reality with the introduction of Maureen, a “transfer student from Florida” who befriends Sam and the gang. Come on: a pretty girl who, when you’re nice to her, is nice back? Who could dream up such a fantastical creature?
Why do I find this so painful to watch?
Because I hate being teased, even by a teevee show?
Because I know it will end badly?
It’s not just that it’s unrealistic, although that’s part of it. I really enjoyed The Girl Next Door, but that was more obviously a fantasy,whereas F & G’s niche is to present the gritty hyper-reality of high school. But it’s also the reaction Maureen provokes, or rather, doesn’t provoke: fear. In TGND, Matthew is afraid of Danielle, who must work hard initially to, if not put him at ease exactly, then coax him to discover his inner alpha. But while Sam and his friends seem to understand at some level that Maureen is too good to last, they seem oblivious to the danger she poses, in at least two salient ways:
1. she ritually humiliates them for their effrontery and general geekiness; and/or
2 a jock AMOGs them.
And before you start, I’ve seen Mystery’s discussion of how “approach anxiety” is our evolved response to hunter-gatherer social dynamics and whatever; so what? This sh!t still happens! Where is their little voice that yells “DANGER WILL ROBINSON!”? I’m 42, and I’m still afraid of beautiful women, even or especially when they seem sociable. Yet these kids just wade right in.
Maybe there was a time that I waded right in and got the crap kicked out of me. Mercifully, I’ve suppressed the memory but not the lesson.
In this case, nothing bad happens. Nobody challenges them, and Maureen seems constitutionally incapable of recognizing the status differential between cheerleading and model rocketry.