By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Freaks and Geeks
Season 1, Episode 8: “Girlfriends and Boyfriends”
Original airdate: Jan. 17, 2000
Emma: This episode feels like it should have come after “I’m With the Band” as it deals with Nick and Lindsay’s kiss, and Nick even mentions the replacement drummer for the band he auditioned for. It didn’t diminish the enjoyment of the episode but it definitely feels like an episode switch happened somewhere. The big question is are Nick and Lindsay going out? They’re both trying to be cool about the whole thing, but Nick is into Lindsay a lot more than Lindsay is into Nick. I think Lindsay likes Nick but not enough to light candles and sing a song at her. When Nick sings “Lady” by Styx it starts off as sweet and the longer it goes on and the more uncomfortable that Lindsay looks it becomes this awkward and over the top declaration. This is preferential to Nick trying to have sex with Lindsay as the build up suggested and this is another occasion where Freaks and Geek subverts the norms of this genre. Everyone else thinks that Lindsay and Nick are going to sleep together so it’s a nice surprise that he doesn’t want to rush things, even if he does get super intense (he’s the anti-Jordan Catalano).
One thing that Linda Cardellini gets to do in this episode, and on a multiple occasions, is show off a range of mortified expressions, and within the first five minutes of the episode this happens when Mr. Rosso gives Lindsay a leaflet called “Dating, Sex and You” and tells her a story of how he got herpes at a discotheque. Bonus mortified faces in this introduction include when Millie confronts her about Nick and judges her for her dating choices (“Freaks only date freak girls”) and Lindsay also looks uncomfortable when Nick puts his hand down the back of her jean pocket in front of everyone. Later on, this is followed by the arrival of a rose and this reminded me of when my mum started to ask questions about a boy I went out with during high school. Mum’s get so happy and I definitely got flashbacks with how uncomfortable Lindsay is.
This leads to the great gender debate of the episode with Harold being proud of Sam for purely hanging out with Cindy and horrified when he hears that Lindsay has a possible boyfriend. Jean is excited that Lindsay has a date but all Harold can imagine is a horny teenage boy. This leads to another awkward moment for Lindsay as Harold tells the story of how he lost his virginity — it was to a prostitute in Korea (and cost him $5). While there is hypocrisy in how Harold is treating his two children, it is done with love and a desire to protect her. Harold starts off by ranting that he won’t look after her “wedlock baby” while she heads off to college and he’s opting for the worst case scenario, though he probably wouldn’t consider this happening to his son. Lindsay’s reaction as she gets up from the table in silence demonstrates how upset she is by this discussion, probably more so than if she screamed at them (though Harold prefers the lack of yelling). No one wants to hear their parents say “your virginity is a gift” but I like the way this show has developed the role of the parents, even if they are on the periphery of the story rather than being the subject of it. I don’t think it’s always important to have the adult characters featuring in their own weekly stories and that it should vary show to show. As Freaks and Geeks is juggling two groups I think it’s better to approach the parents as a way to service the teenagers stories.
Kim just assumes that Lindsay and Nick will sleep together and wants Lindsay to ring her with all of the details (this further shows that Kim and Lindsay are friends), but Lindsay turns to her old BF for advice. In the middle of a test is probably not the best place to discuss this with Millie but this is where Lindsay opts to have this chat. Millie doesn’t think she should as no one will want to marry her, which is another way of saying that she would be ‘damaged goods.’ Lindsay is hearing opinions from two very different schools of thought and it’s clear that Lindsay isn’t ready to have sex, though I think if Lindsay really spoke about it with Kim (away from the boys) then Kim might be a good listener.
What did you think about everyone wanting to talk about Lindsay having sex? Did you enjoy Nick’s singing?
I loved this episode, and I think it was one of the funnier ones in a while (despite the total absence of Ken, what the hell?). Most of the humor came courtesy of Lindsay’s mortified faces and Bill, which is no surprise.
If Lindsay Weir were a real person, I think she’d have holed herself up in a closet somewhere for a week after having to endure all of these painful conversations and events. First there’s all the freaks making a huge deal out of her “dating” Nick, then there’s Mr. Rosso and the herp, Millie and her sex advice, Mr. Weir and the $5 Korean prostitute, and Nick and his singing. That’s a lot for one high school girl to deal with.
I thought the writers did a great job dealing with the idea of teenage sex. There are the bad kids who do it, the diseases, the poor decisions, the regrets. This episode probably takes place a little before most of the AIDS stuff of the ’80s and ’90s, but I remember as a kid, it being drilled into my head that sex kills. You will die if you have sex. That’s what sex ed. and MTV told me, anyway.
Though, for Lindsay’s part, it’s pretty obvious that she doesn’t want to have sex with Nick. She’s not even really that into him. He can’t spell. How can Lindsay Weir lose her virginity to a guy who misspells “wait?” The fact that Nick wants to “wate” for sex as well, has to be a big relief for Lindsay, at least until he starts singing. Then the sex thing doesn’t sound so terrible, by comparison.
On the geek side, the boys are being paired up for science projects. Sam gets stinky Gordon as his partner and Bill gets Cindy, Ms. Perfect. Sam is obviously jealous of all the time Bill will get to share with Cindy, even though (I think) Sam gets the better part of the deal, getting to spend so much time with Gordon, who is cool and a good friend. Cindy is the worst. I thought so before, and I believe it even more now. She’s a phony who doesn’t watch TV and says she hates carrot sticks even though Bill watched her wolf them down like crazy while at her house. She blames innocent chairs for her cheese cutting, and she is boxing Sam into the friend zone. There’s no way Cindy doesn’t know how Sam feels about her, at least on some level. Girls, even girls as awful as Cindy, aren’t that dumb. She wants her big football player, but she also wants the thrill of stringing Sam along. I hope she falls down a well. Or, short of that, I hope now that she’s fully inside puberty, all the bacon cheeseburgers she eats after school start to catch up with her.
Obviously I have a lot of thoughts on Cindy, more than I realized. How do you feel about her? Do you want to be her best friend?
Emma: I’m very much with you on the Cindy front, and all I kept wondering is where is the lovely Maureen? The only reason she might not consider that Sam has feelings for her is because she is very self involved and her favorite Muppet is Miss Piggy which is telling (I’m not a Miss Piggy fan). Bill is right: the Swedish Chef is the best.
The sight of Bill in Cindy’s room was worth this storyline as he has never looked so out of his element. I also liked that Bill tested the chair before coming to the realization that yes Cindy did cut the cheese (this is a phrase for farting that I’ve not really heard before). Sam thinks that Bill is lying about this and that it’s all part of plan to get Cindy for himself but Bill is just messing with Sam (plus he’s too smart to fall for Cindy’s holier than thou attitude). Sorry, Cindy, for piling on you like this, but you’re kinda the worst.
It’s painful that Sam likes her so much that he’s willing to be her confidant just to spend time with her and that phone call at the end is soul destroying as I’m sure we’ve all done something like this in an attempt to get closer to someone. It rarely works and it’s the ultimate slap in the face that Cindy compares Sam to her sister as that’s the last thing he wants to hear. The clue that should have alerted Sam that Cindy wasn’t interested is when she mentions that she got her period as no teenage girl would say that in front of a boy she likes.
I’m so glad we got a Sam/Lindsay scene, where they’re both revealing their not so great evenings. It’s been a while since we had a sibling bonding moment and I hope we get more of these scenes.
Gordon’s comments about his medical problem weeding out the jerks is a great way to look at an issue like this as both teenagers and adults can be the worst when it comes to stuff like this. Gordon might smell but he’s got great advice and is fun to hang out with, though I’d probably not want that pencil back either.
One of Freaks and Geeks strengths is the humor that it finds in these awkward teen moments whether it’s who you’re crushing on, discussing sex with parents or body issues.
And seriously where is Ken?
Julie: Yes. Where was Maureen? Her absence makes me think you were right about the schedule having been flipped around here a little bit. Good call on her Miss Piggy fandom indicating that she’s a bit self-involved. She’s also kind of phony. Do you like carrots or don’t you, Cindy. These are not difficult questions.
Also, does she think Sam’s gay, or a girl? She might think he’s a girl. My daughter came in while I was watching this episode, pointed to Sam and said, “That’s a mommy. Who’s that mommy?” Poor girly Sam Weir. But then Cindy also asked Sam if he thought the football player was cute. Who does that? Cindy, that’s who.
Sam being Friend Zoned by Cindy is bad, but he will survive it. I was there so, so many times in high school. I had the biggest crush on this guy, who had a crush on my best friend, and he’d call me to talk about her every night. And she wanted nothing to do with him. Or she wanted nothing to do with him only because I wanted everything to do with him, which was really pretty good of her.
Hooray for the sibling moment! I definitely cheered. I also love that, in this episode, Sam was the only person in Lindsay’s life behaving normally, and vice versa. Their parents may be talking about prostitutes, but at least they have each other.
I thought Sam handled the Gordon thing perfectly, too. He could’ve ignored the smell or continued to talk about it behind Gordon’s back, but no. He gave Gordon an opening to talk about it and the two of them became closer because of it. And, yes, Gordon can keep that pencil.
As far as Ken goes, I think he would’ve had many wonderful things to say about the union of Lindsay and Nick, and I missed his presence in this episode. Looks like we’ll see more of him next episode when Ken, Daniel, and Kim start taking an interest in sports. I’m looking forward to that episode, since it combines my two favorite pastimes — Ken and basketball.
Anything to add?
Emma: The only thing I have to add is that I wanted to mention Jason Segel’s basketball skills which got mentioned in this episode (and the next episode sounds brilliant) and we’ve seen Nick shoot hoops (look at me with the American sports vernacular) previously. When Jason Collins came out just over a month ago one of the side stories was that Collins played with Segel at high school (see their team photo here) and they obviously worked Segel’s basketball talents into Freaks and Geeks. Busy Philipps also revealed on her Twitter that they called Segel “Dr. Dunk” off camera on Freaks and Geeks.
Here’s hoping we don’t enrage any possible Cindy Sanders fans out there!