Apparently, NBC wanted the freaks and geeks to triumph over the cool kids
Fifteen years ago, Judd Apatow and Paul Feig created a show about ’80s-era high school burnouts and nerds; the show starred Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini. Sounds like a can’t-miss hit, right? And yet, to the chagrin of the show’s cult following, Freaks and Geeks was canceled after only one season.
Though the show’s stars and creators went on to successful movie and TV careers, they — like the fans — never quite got over the decision to drop the show. That’s why when Seth Rogen was presented with the opportunity to confront the show’s creator, he did:
Last night I was in a room with the dude who cancelled Freaks and Geeks. And yes, I did totally call him out on it.—
Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 12, 2014
Rogen shared the dirty details of the conversation in an interview with HuffPost Live. The actor was visting Saturday Night Live to support his friend Bill Hader when he overheard someone say the name of the executive who canceled Freaks and Geeks. “I know his name, obviously, because we’ve talked about how stupid he is for the last 15 years,” Rogen said. With the help of fellow comedian Paul Rudd, Rogen asked him why he decided to kill the show:
He oddly tried to justify it. He was like, “You know, Judd wouldn’t listen to my notes.” I was like, “The notes probably were stupid.” … He was like, “You know, I kept telling Judd, ‘Give them a victory, give them a victory.’ And I was like, “The whole show was about how in high school you always lose all the time.” He went to a private school and was very rich as a child.
Rogen was careful not to out the former NBC executive, but apparently the executive didn’t mind naming himself. Garth Ancier, a television programmer since the ’70s, took to Facebook to make his case:
I thought we had a very nice chat about “Freaks & Geeks” on Saturday night. As I said, my only note to Judd Apatow over the entire series was that either the Freaks and/or the Geeks should win the occasional victory over the cooler kids — especially since Judd Apatow has taken that note in every hit movie since. I absolutely hated canceling this particular show. It was clear from the very beginning that F&G had great writing from Judd and Paul Feig, and a tremendous cast. This was an awful decision that has haunted me forever…but the show was consistently NBC’s least viewed. For what it is worth, I have watched all of the episodes over and over again on Netflix, and asked myself what I could have done better to save it.
When Rogen dismissed Ancier as a rich kid who wouldn’t understand the trials and tribulations of public high school, he posted yet another response on Facebook:
We may never know how the conversation really went down. (Paul Rudd, care to respond?) But whether Ancier is a villain or not, Freaks and Geeks will forever be remembered — alongside Sports Night, Rome and Happy Endings — as a show that was canceled far too soon.