I was very lonely in high school. I think many people are lonely then, because teenagers are forced to reckon with new and difficult feelings, pressures and experiences, all while facing down a frightening impending future.
For one year of high school, I decided to deal with those scary feelings and the scary future by throwing out the person I’d been and becoming more dangerous, someone who didn’t do their homework and hung out with the bad kids and made their future worse on purpose instead of letting the universe fail them first. That didn’t work out, so I spent pretty much the rest of my time staying home and playing The Sims.
Quarantine has felt a bit like high school, in that way — lonely, scary, waiting for an amorphous concept of “better,” lots of inter-Sims drama. I decided to lean into that feeling by rewatching Freaks and Geeks, Paul Feig’s coming-of-age series that ran on NBC during the 1999-2000 season. Freaks and Geeks was short-lived, but its impact was long-lasting. Judd Apatow was the executive producer, and the main cast included then-newcomers like Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Samm Levine, famed weed-grower Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel and my beloved Busy Philipps. There are also so many current stars in small parts that at some point I thought I was being pranked: Ben Foster, JoAnna Garcia, Lizzy Kaplan, Motocrossed star Riley Smith, Biff Tannen, and even motherfucking Ann Dowd.
All these future stars live in the town of Chippewa, Michigan, a fictional suburb of Detroit, in 1980. Lindsay Weir (Cardellini) is a junior at McKinley High School, and her brother Sam (Daley) is a freshman. Sam’s a Geek, as are his friends Bill (Starr) and Neil (Levine). Lindsay’s a smart kid and former Mathlete, but she’s sick of being who she’s always been, and she starts hanging around the Freaks (Rogen, Franco, Segel, Philipps), who smoke weed, skip class and go to rock concerts. Her parents (Becky Ann Baker, Joe Flaherty) are loving and well-meaning, but totally baffled.
The show is pitched as a “misfit comedy,” but I can only assume even the most “in” kids felt like misfits sometimes, much like how Star Wars superfan Ted Cruz inexplicably identifies with the Rebel Alliance when he’s clearly one of the pig guards from Jabba's Palace. At some point, many of us felt lost and isolated and like we don’t know who we are anymore or what we might become.
If you haven’t watched it, please do. If you have, please rewatch (Vulture did some recaps this past winter if you’d like to follow along). And if you’ve rewatched recently, let me know how it’s held up for you. Or don’t, I’m not your mom.
Catching up on the news
I haven’t published a newsletter since January, mostly because life has just sucked and I didn’t feel like doing extra work. There’s been so much news! There’s far too much happening for me to recap casually, so instead of digging into individual stories, I’ll skip ahead to the good reads. Which brings us to…
Here are some good blogs & features I am reading
“There Is No After” — Jezebel
“Daunte and the Debt Collectors: How the Cops Became Robbers” — The Root
“What the Hell Is Kyle Chandler Doing in Godzilla vs. Kong?” — Vulture
“You Can’t Reform This” — Discourse Blog
“A Man Named Earl” — Vulture
And ICYMI, I wrote this essay for Insider about coping with the pandemic by putting home goods in online shopping carts, if you’d like to give a read :)
And now for some good tweets (rare!!!!)thinking about my friend Hector at the deli saying "at least it's Friday" while ringing up my egg and cheese this morning
That’s it for this one — see y’all at some indeterminate point in the future!