Rules and Tools: Judd Apatow’s 14 Guidelines For Creating Freaks and Geeks

High school is about survival, and other truths.
Rules and Tools: Judd Apatow’s 14 Guidelines For Creating Freaks and Geeks

In his show bible that set the course for Freaks and Geeks, creator Judd Apatow laid out the show’s foundation.  Here are 14 of his rules for creating this TV classic. 

High school is about SURVIVAL It's about avoiding getting beaten up or humiliated or in trouble or even drawing attention to yourself if you can help it, says Apatow. Because for most of us, attention only brought persecution.
Geeks are prey for BULLIES CRACKED.COM Mainly because they quite simply won't fight back, says Apatow. So, every bully and wannabe tough guy cuts his teeth on these gentle beings with no fear of reprisal.
Sam stories often start in FANTASY CRACKED COM And unfortunately, end in reality. Like the fantasy of a powder-blue disco jumpsuit making you attractive to Cindy Sanders. And the reality of becoming a school laughingstock.
Each group has its own SOUNDTRACK CRACKED COM Geeks: The Cars. Chicago. ELO. Elton John. Kiss. Kenny Loggins. Meat Loaf. Freaks: Blue Oyster Cult. Black Sabbath. Bad Company. Foghat. Both: Cheap Trick.
Sex is SCARY If you're a geek, sex is something far off in the distance. simply taking off clothes in the locker room is traumatic. Sex is mysterious and terrifying.
Kids are not POLITICALLY CORRECT Especially in the 1980s, teen language and put-downs are very often harsh. They use words of which they don't understand the full meaning. And for boys, the use of homophobic names and references is just a fact of life.
Teachers are just teen stereotypes ALL GROWN UP CRACKED COM Freaks. Mathletes. Jocks. Geeks. High school teachers are just like the students -- -just with cars and slightly better pay.
Whatever the geeks wear, IT DOES NOT WORK CRACKED COM The geeks try to dress cool but just don't pull it off. It doesn't matter what kind of clothes they try. Neal fancies himself a snappy dresser, but he's got an old man's fashion sense.
The freaks wear the same thing ALL THE TIME They don't actually wear the same clothes day after day. Their interchangeable outfits just makes if feel that way. The freaks tend to settle for one look they like and then stick with it.
Teens talk like TEENS Not like 30-year-old writers who spent years coming up with snappy comebacks for their tormenters. The sad truth is ... teenage bullies don't respond well to clever put-downs at their expense.
Lindsay and Sam won't get help from PARENTS Harold wants to help and has good advice if you're a guy in your 50s. For a teenager, the advice couldn't be worse. Jean is an eternal optimist and deals with Lindsay's defection to the freak side in the only way
No easy solutions, NO PAT ANSWERS Whether it's dealing with bullies or the death of a grandmother, there are never big victories at the end of each show. Only small triumphs, bits of headway or realizations that open the door to change and improvement.
High school divisions are not CUT AND DRY CRACKED COM There are nice jocks and mean jocks, good geeks and bad geeks. In other words, the Daniels of the world are complicated.
There's a reason the show is set in THE EIGHTIES CRACKED COM By setting the show back then, we're freed of current societal problems that quickly date the show and are thus allowed to address the broader themes that have stood the test of time for the past 20 years.
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