Team-Up Review: Freaks and Geeks, “The Diary”

FreaksAndGeeks0110_featured

By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser

Freaks and Geeks
Season 1, Episode 10: “The Diary”
Original airdate: Jan. 31, 2000

Emma: I’m going to start with Lindsay and Kim because this was another interesting friendship episode as we hit the first stumbling block in their friendship since the start of the season. It all begins when Kim and Lindsay hitch a ride with a guy who turns out to know Mr Weir and tells Lindsay’s parents what she has been up to. They decide that Kim is a bad banana and that they’ll make Lindsay this way too, the only way they will even consider Lindsay still seeing Kim (which always seems like a silly threat seeing as they go to school together) is if Kim’s mother comes over to dinner. This goes horribly wrong as Kim’s mother thinks her daughter is stupid, lies, sleeps around and does drugs. When your own parent doesn’t endorse you then that’s a terrible sign but as we saw in “Kim Kelly is my Friend” Kim and her mother don’t have the best relationship.

Mr and Mrs Weir want to know how Kim’s mother knows Kim is lying and the answer is simple – she reads Kim’s diary. Personal violation number one. So Lindsay is banned from seeing Kim and Lindsay makes the mistake of thinking that Kim wouldn’t be hurt by Lindsay going along with this and pretending that they aren’t hanging out anymore. This is one case where all of Lindsay’s book smarts don’t make her the smartest person in the room, that honor goes to Daniel who knows Kim well enough to understand why she is reacting so badly. In fact Daniel also manages to reason with Kim about why Lindsay’s parents see her negatively as she does have sex and do drugs and they probably scare the hell out of people like Mr and Mrs Weir. This is one of my favorite interactions of the episode and it’s hilarious when Kim yells at Daniel asking if he is calling her irrational and then threatens to rip his head off. Kim is so unaware of how rational Daniel is being in this discussion.

Kim and Lindsay

Daniel is also the one who makes Lindsay understand why Kim is so upset, Lindsay thought that Kim was too tough to have her feelings hurt (which shows she didn’t pay attention to how Kim reacted to Rashida Jones in “Kim Kelly is my Friend”). Daniel explains that Kim is like a raw nerve and was hurt by Lindsay not sticking up for her and so Lindsay backs Kim’s assessment of “On the Road”in class. I have to say that when I tried reading “On the Road” when I was 17 I only made it to about page 30 before giving up, much to my father’s dismay as it’s one of his favorite books. I haven’t attempted to read it since but I’m wondering if I would still have Kim Kelly feelings about this book.

The rift is healed by the end of the episode and this is another important moment for Lindsay, basically you’ve always got to have your friends back. I’m happy with the way that Kim and Daniels relationship has developed as the on/off aspect has disappeared and now they seem pretty solid; I love that they are both so happy that Lindsay wants to hangout with Kim that afternoon as they’ve been spending too much time together.

Now to the diary of the title and after Kim’s mother admitted looking in Kim’s diary, Mr Weir wants to do the same. Mrs Weir is more reluctant and thinks that it is a terrible thing to do. She still goes ahead and helps Harold (who has come home for his lunch hour) but what they read doesn’t give them any more ammunition against Kim, there are no drugs or sex references and there is a pretty damning passage about her parents being robots with their unchanging routine. Mr Weir isn’t bothered by this but it clearly hits home with Mrs Weir who tries to spice things up by making some more exotic dinners. This goes down terribly and everyone just makes fun of her. Mr Weir could come off really terribly, particularly when he refuses to help clear the table but in a later scene he shows a rare moment of sweetness where he tells his wife that he does everything to serve her, that when he is at work all he does is think about her. This scene got me a little misty eyed because this is a declaration that you might not expect from someone who is as emotionally closed off as Mr Weir. Then things got a little Patty and Graham Chase.

What did you think of the Kim and Lindsay argument? Did your parents ever read your diary?

Mr and Mrs Weir

Julie: Yes, this episode was one of my favorites.

I think the situation actually went beyond Patty and Graham Chase. At least the two of them (usually?) waited until the girls were asleep until they started fornicating. Harold and Jean knew that the kids would be home from school. It’s like they wanted to be caught. *shudders*

But, still. Good for them.

I don’t think my parents ever read my diary. If they did, they were pretty sly about it. I kept pretty sporadic diaries — starting one, getting bored, abandoning it, and buying a shiny, new book — so maybe my diary was hard to track down since there were so many of them. I still do the same thing with notebooks. I have a million of them around the house.

The Kim and Lindsay argument felt very realistic to me. I definitely had some friends whom my parents didn’t quite approve of, though I don’t remember if they ever forbade me to interact with those friends. Like you said, it would’ve been kind of a ridiculous request, considering we went to school together. I vaguely remember them suggesting that a certain friendship might not be the best one for me, but this person and I were already growing apart anyway.

I certainly (to my memory) never made the mistake of telling a friend that my parents didn’t approve of her. And I definitely never went into details. Telling Kim what her parents said seemed like such a rookie mistake for Lindsay, I wonder if she didn’t have an ulterior motive for doing so. I thought Lindsay told Kim what her parents said about her drinking and drugging and sexing maybe to piss Kim off so much that she’s stop doing those things. I think Lindsay likes Kim’s friendship, but is uncomfortable engaging in the other activities herself, so maybe she wants to try to bring Kim back down to her more innocent level. Or maybe I’m just projecting. Maybe.

Kim and Daniel

I did love Daniel in this episode; and after seeing him in This Is The End, James Franco is having quite a good week, in my book. For all his claims about not being very bright, Daniel is very good at reading his friends. He pays attention to them and what they want and which buttons will set them off. He’s a good friend. I also like that the Freaks and Geeks writers seem to have abandoned any notion of Daniel and Lindsay hooking up. I think he cares to much about Kim (and Nick) to even go there. He may be a “freak,” but underneath it all, Daniel’s a decent guy.

But still — NO KEN! I can’t believe how little Ken we’ve seen in this show. Where are you, Ken?

As far as the geeks go, picking teams in gym class! The horror. Did you have to go through that awful ritual of adolescence?

Emma: The looks of horror on everyone’s face when they realize what the Weir’s are doing was hilarious/matched my own expression. But yeah good for them and at least it meant that everyone got takeout/Kim got to stay.

I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t read my diary either, in my head I kept it pretty well hid but it would have been easy for anyone to find, though it did have one of those really crummy padlocks on it. I only had one diary and it was pretty hefty but I never finished it as I didn’t really write in it all that often.

While I’m not sure if Lindsay told Kim on purpose it is an incredibly dumb thing to do, but I do like your theory about Lindsay not wanting to participate in those activities. At the start when they’re trying to hitch a ride, Lindsay sees it as exciting but she’s also a bag of nerves – I know by the time I was a teenager I knew that hitching was a major no go and assumed it would end in murder. I think Lindsay looks up to Kim but is also wary of Kim’s behavior, this is probably what happens when your dad tells many stories that end in death.

Lindsay

I think we might need to send out a search party for Ken because he’s been absent one to many times for my liking. As we both saw This is the End this week did you spot the amazing Freaks and Geeks paintings? I can understand why there was little Nick in this episode as he’s clearly still hurting from his break up with Lindsay but the lack of Ken doesn’t make any sense. I need some well timed snark.

So to the geeks and you know I love discussing gym class. I remember the fear of getting picked last for team sports, but luckily I was always around the middle of the picking spectrum and I don’t think this method was used all that much, except for rounders which was one of the sports I liked. This storyline worked well because of Bill and because of his desire to be given a chance – no Bill doesn’t see the point in climbing a rope but he wants to play baseball.

Bill decides that the way to change things is to steal Bif’s phone number and give him a call pretending to be Gordo’s dad, Gordo has no interest in playing baseball and this backfires on Bill when Gordo gets offered Bill’s dream position. The next move is to ring and leave the most abusive message that Bill can think of and this includes telling Bif to “go smell and jockstrap” and calling him a “butt patter” and a “stinky turd.” Neal’s dad (and Chandler Bing’s boss, also a butt patter) is fine with them making crank calls as long as there is no heavy breathing involved. Do kids still make pranks calls today? I remember being around a friend’s house when this happened and being petrified that we were going to get arrested – I was quite nervous about doing things like this. I also remember getting a heavy breather call and this also scared the shit out of me.

The geeks make a crank call

One of the funniest moments of this episode comes from Bif getting the boys to read back these insults ranging from Neal using it as an opportunity to show off his impressions, the jocks find it harsh, Alan finds it hilarious and Bill tries to make his voice sound different to his crank call voice. To his credit Bill does admit it was him when Bif has figured it out and fights his corner rather well. Bill gets to pick the teams and it feels like a real victory that is topped off when Bill catches the ball. Even though it’s only one out (excuse me if I’ve mangled the rules/language of baseball – or is it softball?) they react like they’ve won the World Series and this scene caused me to have a giant smile on my face. For the first time in their teen lives the geeks have outshone the jocks and it’s all because of the AMAZING Bill Haverchuck.

What are your thoughts on this storyline?

Julie: Ah, the padlocked diary with the tiny keys. I remember those well.

And speaking of people missing, I wish there had been more Jason Segel in This Is The End. Really, This Is The End should’ve just been This Is The Freaks And Geeks Reunion Movie You’ve Been Waiting For (OK, Undeclared people can come too, Jay Baruchel). But, yes, those Freaks and Geeks posters were amazing, and almost enough to sate me.

It’s funny, because I’m sure we probably picked teams for volleyball and basketball, but I mostly remember the softball team picking. Looking back on it, this was pretty cruel, but our junior high gym teacher would somehow finagle it so that there’d be two games (played out on the blacktop behind the school). There’d be a game for the skilled softballers, and a game for the novices and nerds. I was a little torn. I was friends with a lot of the jock girls, pretty much, and I wasn’t a horrible softball player myself, so part of me wanted to be drafted into the “good players” game. But the rest of me just wanted to sit on the sidelines with the less skilled players, telling ghost stories and not caring about the outcome of the game. So while I still felt the anxiety of being picked late in the game, I had a prize waiting for me if I were one of the stragglers. The prize being less exercise and competition.

The geeks celebrate

I love how into baseball Bill is. He knows the rules (even if he forgets them when he celebrates his big catch at shortstop). He reminds me of a lot of guys I knew (and know) who love sports and want to play even though they don’t exhibit much athletic ability of their own. I hope Bill grows up, gets a corporate job, and joins the company’s 16 inch softball league. I hope he’s captain of the team.

Friends! That’s where Neal’s dad is from (and I just watched the butt patting episode last week)! He’s super cool with the boys in this episode, and it saddens me to know where Dr. Schweiber is headed by the end of the season (if my memory is correct). There’s some foreshadowing in this episode. Besides, as we’ve seen from Mr. Weir, Nick’s dad, and Kim’s stepdad, no dads are allowed to be that cool and perfect in Freaks and Geeks-ville.

We used to make prank calls, but I bet that doesn’t happen much anymore, on account of everyone having Caller ID and cell phones. Poor kids. They miss out on everything. Although I did recently get a prank text message that freaked my shit out. Of course, it turned out to be my little cousin being a jokester, but I was not pleased. I guess kids today do get to prank people. Good for them. Jerks.

It was nice to see the geeks triumph — really triumph — this episode. They got to rule the baseball field, and one of the jocks got to see how it feels to be picked last. I found the whole thing incredibly uplifting. Of course, then the writers had to go and spoil everything by having poor Sam discover his parents sexing each other up in the middle of the afternoon. Will Sam Weir ever win?

Do you have anything else to add?

Picking Teams

Emma: I thought that about the foreshadowing with Neal’s story too, it’s just a little throwaway comment but knowing what comes next definitely hurts. I find Neal the most irritating out of all of the geeks but that’s probably because he tries too hard and at this point hasn’t been given all that much to do.

What you say about Bill and guys like Bill is so right, which is why I think things like fantasy football get so competitive. I make a team every year and then forget about it after the first week (this year I had a theme of plays with crap tats and facial hair and I still lost interest.

Julie: Man, Neal reminds me of so many guys I knew in high school and early college — the try too hards. Good news for them (and Neal) that most of them turned out to be the coolest cats I know in adult hood. (I can bring back “cool cat,” right?)

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

Emma Fraser wanted to be Angela Chase when she grew up, but is sadly not a CIA Agent now. Her writing can be found at TV Ate My Wardrobe and you will find her on both Twitter and Tumblr.

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