By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Freaks and Geeks
Season 1, Episode 2: “Beers and Weirs”
Original airdate: Oct. 2, 1999
Julie: We’re only on the second episode of Freaks and Geeks, and already it’s time for the parents to go out of town so the kids can throw a party. My So-Called Life didn’t send Patty and Graham away until the penultimate episode of the series, so I guess Freaks and Geeks is just an overachiever. In this episode, however, resident bad girl Kim Kelly doesn’t handcuff herself to the bed and have a heart-to-heart with little sibling Sam Weir, but she does wind up in Lindsay’s bed, engaged in an activity where handcuffs wouldn’t be out of place.
In “Beers and Weirs,” the parents Weir are headed out of town to see some great musical acts, including Paul Anka. Real hip stuff. They threaten to hire a babysitter for the kids, but Lindsay talks them out of it. She and Sam are old enough to take care of themselves, damn it. And Mr. and Mrs. Weir agree, leaving the kids armed with $50 and a fridge full of meals. Lindsay lets it slip to her freak friends that her parents are gone, and the dashing Daniel invites the crowd (including his much older cousins) over for a keg party.
The show could’ve taken the usual Very Special Episode route. They could’ve shown us alcohol poisoning or car accidents or bad sexual choices, but instead, the show role played those events via the Sober Student assembly at school. And instead of everyone getting wasted at Lindsay’s party, her brother and his geek friends hijacked the keg and replaced it with some non-alcoholic brew.
The development of the non-alcoholic keg is the stuff of pure genius. First, it just makes Sam and his friends seem more adorable and more awesome. Sam can’t stop the party from happening, but he does figure out a way to minimize damage to his house and his sister. Secondly, we were treated to the placebo effect of all these novices drinking what they think is alcoholic beer and behaving accordingly. This gets us a stumbling Lindsay hugging a “drunk” Nick, who tries to unhook her bra during a friendly hug. Thirdly, we get Millie trying to have a better time than all the drunkards by playing “Jesus is Just All Right” on the piano. And fourthly, we get our first real glimpse into how great a character Ken (Seth Rogen) is when he reveals to Sam that he knew the beer was non-alcoholic all along and he won a lot of money playing quarters because of it.
Other odds and ends to gush over: Lindsay preparing snacks and hanging hippie posters on the wall (hey, at least she tried), Sober Student Harris doing a beer bong, and Bill getting wasted while watching Dallas, as we all did back in 1980 (I was two).
What did you think of the episode? Do you also want to keep miniature versions of Bill, Neil, and Sam in your pocket at all times?
Emma: Oh my word yes! I would love miniature versions of Bill, Neil and Sam, they really are the most adorable. The party plan was indeed a brilliant twist on the age-old teens and alcohol story. Plus it makes sense that Sam is fearful of alcohol—his dad ends every story with a death and the assembly laid it on pretty thick. I remember when I was their age that I was pretty fearful of drinking and I was convinced I would never be a smoke a cigarette. By the time I hit Lindsay’s age I was doing both and I think they’ve got it perfect when it comes to the way some teens approach these vices. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, but there is something about the Sam, Neil, Bill dynamic that reminds me of my first year of high school. Neil’s crush on Lindsay is equally adorable and while that’s never going to happen, he manages to provide a solution to Lindsay’s party woes without denting Lindsay’s reputation. The scene in the bedroom shows Lindsay at her most vulnerable and perhaps she is honest with Neil because she thinks she’s drunk (or because he’s non-threatening). Her main issue is that she’s currently caught between two versions of her self—the goody two-shoes and the reprobate. Neil’s response of “You’re Lindsay Weir, you can do anything” is the perfect statement in this moment. Even if she doesn’t know who she is, there are those around her that know how special she is. Lindsay’s response to his declaration of love is terrific—giving him a hug and a kiss that he’s probably going to remember forever.These boys feel like three less socially awkward versions of Brian Krakow (okay maybe Bill is just as awkward). I think if the episode had just been 40 minutes of Bill drinking beer and watching Dallas I would have been happy. He is truly delightful. Bill’s advice about women comes from a nature show on PBS, this also adds to his charm. The Bill has wet himself sight gag is brilliant and so simple, particularly because Lindsay doesn’t even question it.
What do you think of Sam’s romantic storyline? I’m not a huge fan of Cindy, but I really like seeing him navigate these unknown waters.
What did you think about Lindsay’s own romantic mishaps in this episode?
Julie: I’m with you about Cindy. She’s so milquetoast. Sam deserves better. He deserves an awesome geek girl who loves Sam for who he is. I’m afraid, however, that Sam’s geekiness may not be lifelong and that he may one day go over to the dark side and become a cool kid who makes out under the bleachers. But that probably won’t happen until at least junior year; so, for now, let’s just celebrate Sam for being the adorable freshman we know and love.
I definitely get an authentic “freshmen in high school” vibe from the geek boys. Everything was so black and white then. Drinking was bad. Cigarettes were bad. The people who did those things were bad. I remember going to a friend’s sister’s party during freshman year. They were serving alcohol, and it was the biggest deal. I think I tried a little bit of something, but that was it. And then I didn’t drink again until I had, like, a beer and a half during prom weekend. I was baller.
Actually, and I won’t admit to being as sunny or earnest as Millie, but I was definitely the girl who thought I was already so fun that I didn’t need alcohol. Whether or not that was true, I don’t know. You’d have to ask my high school friends. But I was known to bust out in song at a moment’s notice. “Laid” by James and “What’s Up” by the 4 Non-Blondes were my specialties. Good lord. Maybe I was Millie. But, like, a Millie who sang about kinky sex and drug use.
Enough about me, let’s talk about Lindsay. She’s got it bad for Daniel, for which I cannot blame her, having just watched James Franco adorably smirk his way through an interview with Stephen Colbert. His Academy Awards hosting sins are forgiven, as far as I’m concerned. Even from the start, however, I was never a Daniel/Lindsay shipper. I always wanted her to hook up with Nick. But watching this episode again, where Nick attempts to unhook her bra, just gave me the sads. You’re better than that move, Nick. Because that move is awful.
Of course, Daniel was off with Kim for much of the episode, enjoying the “on” part of their on-again-off-again relationship. I love Daniel and Kim together. Actually, I mostly love Kim. Daniel comes off as this cool guy, the leader of the freaks, but he is totally whipped by Kim. She wears the pants here, and I find it refreshing to see a girlfriend character who is so tough, so sure of herself (even if it’s only on the outside). She’s kind of the Rayanne of this show, but less of a basket case. I celebrate that.
What do you think? Are you a Kim Kelly fan?
Emma: I love your choice of songs to sing, definitely cooler than Millie and I think it’s great to have that ability to not feel that inhibited without booze as I was definitely someone who worried too much about what others thought.
Daniel is a complete sweetheart, particularly his reaction to Lindsay’s trophies and mathlete photos, she’s so embarrassed but he just marvels at how happy she looks. He could easily have been dismissive, but really he’s in awe of her achievements. I can see why Lindsay is crushing on Daniel, he’s charming in a stoner way and he’s using her shoulder as a pillow (and thanks to 30 Rock we know how James Franco feels about pillows).
For Lindsay though it is all about Nick for me too, his early attempts at putting the moves on her are beyond awkward and the bra scene is super cringeworthy; alcohol can’t be blamed either. He is sad about John Bonham and this becomes his excuse for everything this week. Were boys using Kurt Cobain’s death as a reason for their shitty moves in the mid 90s? (Side note: I Wikipedia’d John Bonham and he was born in a town where close to where I grew up. This isn’t really relevant).
Kim is really wonderful and I’m glad she’s less abrasive this week and actually complements Lindsay on the party (I found this rather sweet). Her story about the scam to get cheaper clothes reminded me of what some girls at my school did, but I was always too afraid of getting caught to do anything like that. Her outward toughness and ability to challenge the guys makes her an interesting foil for Lindsay, who seems so unsure of herself and I’m looking forward to more Kim in the episodes to come (I also think that Busy Philipps is really great). I’d say both Kim and Ken are the two characters that I want to see a lot more of as we’ve barely scratched the surface with either.So we’re only two episodes in but is there anything you want to see more of?
Julie: I’m going to stick with Kim for another minute (Man, I have a lot to say about her, and she was hardly in this episode). When we were discussing My So-Called Life, you and I talked a lot about the female friendships on the show and how they were really the important relationships, despite all the emphasis put on Jordan Catalano. I think it’s the same situation here. Knowing how the series ends up (and SPOILER ALERT-ish for those of you watching for the first time), I’m a bit fixated watching how Kim and Lindsay’s relationship develops this time around. These are girls who have nearly nothing in common, except for the fact that they’re both into the same guy. Kim is very dismissive of Lindsay, except, where you pointed out, when Kim thanks her for the party. I guess that’s what I want to see more of, what I’m looking for during this viewing of Freaks and Geeks. I want to see the evolution of Kimsay.
And Ken. Much more Ken.
Do you have anything to add?
Emma: Not much from me except I am also really looking forward to the development in Kim and Lindsay’s friendship. Solid female friendships are can often be my favorites in a show (see The Good Wife, Parks and Rec) and seeing them develop is always a bonus.