Yesterday, I started watching Freaks and Geeks for the sole reason that I enjoyed reading a book by its author, Paul Feig, which was lent to me by a friend. The book gave what I found to be a pretty realistic account of someone’s childhood, albeit someone with a completely different experience and outlook from mine, though with the same kind of prescient observations about teenage life. So I thought I’d like Freaks and Geeks. Wrong-o!
The show is unbearable to me because no high school kids are like the kids on the show. And, now that I think of it, it’s almost impossible for me to name one show, or movie, set in an American high school, that is somewhat realistic. The characters are all way over the top. They’re exaggerated stereotypes of what “geeks” and “freaks” are supposed to be like.
That scene at the beginning of Superbad where this “cool” kid tells Jonah Hill that he’s not invited to his party, and then spits right on his shirt? Spits on him? Are you kidding me? I have never seen that kind of open unprovoked hostility in a high school, and I went to high school with some crazy people. I never saw anyone get shoved into a locker, I never saw anyone get a “wedgie” or anything in gym class, and I never saw anyone beat up a smaller, weaker kid. Never. I saw a few fights, real fistfights in the cafeteria between rough-neck farm kids - but never did I see hostile, pointless bullying of some little dork by big, strong jocks.
I’m not just talking about comedies here,p;’[ I’m talking about dramas too, and thrillers and horror movies and every other kind of movie. I just cannot think of a movie or a show set in a high school where the characters seem even remotely like real people. “Ponce de Leon” played by John David Carson in Pretty Maids All in a Row, 1971, is one of the only examples I can think of of a high school student in a movie that actually comes off as a real high school student (and the irony is that in every single other way, that movie is absolutely ridiculously over the top.)
It’s not just the comedies. Donnie Darko? No fucking way. Nobody was like that in high school. Not one person. American Pie? I think it’s a hilarious movie but, NO, real people do not act like that. The Basketball Diaries - no. Zero Day, Elephant, - no. I can’t even think of any others right now.
Is there any show or film which high school kids seem even halfway realistic?