When Freaks and Geeks was canceled, Apatow did not take it well. His wife says he acted like he "just lost a family member." And what do you do when someone murders your family? You spend the next decade carefully executing your revenge, yes. As soon as Apatow hit it big with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he started working on turning the talent of his old show into movie stars, just to spite NBC. Not only has every movie he's directed featured at least one Freaks and Geeks cast member, he also used his producing powers to help make films like Rogen's Superbad and Pineapple Express (both starring Franco), Segel's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Feig's Bridesmaids. All of those movies made over $100 million, but more importantly they also made an NBC executive cry.
In Apatow's resentful mind, he pretended the show was still on and his movies were "the continuous adventures of those characters" -- for him, Knocked Up is "just an episode of Seth's character getting a girl pregnant." Which, since Freaks and Geeks was set in 1980, would make the guy Rogen played there a very youthful 45-year-old.
Via Rebloggy, Jamie McCarthy/NBC/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty
Then again, I'm pretty sure that if you cut off Seth Rogen's head, lightning bolts come out.
At the same time, you can definitely tell there was a change in the focus of Apatow's work: When he was doing Freaks and Geeks the executives accused him of making the show too depressing, but suddenly he started doing hilarious movies where the slob gets the girl in the end and there's a baffling musical sequence. And, apparently, he did them just to shove the resulting millions in NBC's face. Now that Segel, Rogen, Franco, and Feig have all gone on to make their own $200 million films, Apatow doesn't feel such a need to make money, and he's gone back to doing the depressing, meandering comedies he probably wanted to do all along.