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Revived and Derived: “Freaks and Geeks” Ep. 15, “Noshing and Moshing”

Revived and Derived: “Freaks and Geeks” Ep. 15, “Noshing and Moshing” (photo)

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“Freaks and Geeks” is now airing on IFC, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to revisit the show that launched a thousand bromance movies. Every week, Matt Singer and Alison Willmore will be offering their thoughts on that night’s episode.

Episode 15
Noshing and Moshing
Written by J. Elvis Weinstein
Directed by Jake Kasdan

“I’m leaning towards undeclared.” — Barry Schweiber

Matt: Sadly, we’re all leaning toward “Undeclared” at this point; we’ve got just three more episodes left before we all graduate to Judd Apatow’s “Freaks and Geeks” follow up set in the world of college. In the meantime, we do get a small taste of university life from guest star David Krumholtz, who plays Neal’s older brother Barry, back on a break from college. Everyone seems to like Barry, but no one more than Lindsay, who decides to attend the Schweiber’s annual party just to spend some time with him. After several scenes of flirtation and sexual tension, the two share a kiss that’s interrupted by Neal, who finally hits his breaking point and reveals the secret of his father’s infidelity that he’d discovered back in “The Diary.” By the way, the People Magazine that one of the teachers reads has a cover story about John Hinckley’s assassination attempt of President Reagan, which means Neal’s been holding this information for two whole months.

But before Neal interrupts, Barry has some inspirational words for Lindsay. College, he tells her, is awesome. In high school, Barry was the geek who got beat up constantly (in other words, he was Neal). But in college, he was able to reinvent himself as “the handsome, dashing Jew.” Best of all: people bought it. Lindsay certainly has, anyway. Or maybe Lindsay’s attracted to Barry because she’s tried to reinvent herself too, with less than spectacular results.

10082010_fandg15_3.jpgBeing a freak always gets her in trouble and her new freak friends don’t “inspire or challenge” her, as she tells Barry in a moment of shockingly brutal honesty. Barry’s living proof that you really can redefine yourself as someone totally new in college. For a girl who feels trapped by Midwest suburbia — this week she rails against the idiocy of not allowing kids to do their homework in detention — such upward mobility and freedom has to be extremely alluring.

Reinventing yourself in high school is much trickier, as evidenced by both main freaks and geeks storylines this week. On the freak side, Daniel breaks up with Kim for the umpteenth time and takes a liking to a punk dropout convenience store clerk named Jenna (Shawnee Free Jones). To impress her he tries to spike up his hair, safety pin his jacket and “rise above” — but finds punk shows just as disillusioning as everything else in his crummy life. Meanwhile, Neal, struggling with his dad’s cheating ways, claims to have discovered something that will change the geeks’ lives. “It will bring us power, respect, and money.”

Yes, Neal truly believes the key to unlocking all of life’s pleasures is a ventriloquist dummy — excuse me, figure — named Morty. Not surprisingly, Morty does not deliver a bump in social status (at least not a positive one). Though Lindsay seems to draw some hope for the future from her conversation with Barry, the net result of the Daniel and Neal storylines makes this episode another (awesomely entertaining) downer, even if both characters seem to find a modicum of comfort by returning their old ways during a powerful final montage set to Dean Martin’s “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You.”

Can you really create a whole new identity for yourself in college? We’ll have to wait a month until we get to “Undeclared” to answer that question. In the meantime, Alison, my first question for you is this: whose home life is more screwed up, Daniel or Neal’s? Sure Daniel’s got the mother who actually wants him to drop out, but Neal’s dealing with a dad who cheats, a mom who seemingly permits it, and a brother who’s macking on his favorite girl. Who wins (or, in this case, loses)?

Alison: Matt, I can’t believe you didn’t manage at least one mention of the cold open, in which Bill displays his incredibly fierce dance face in another showcase of Martin Starr’s fearlessness. But to answer your question — I’d say Daniel’s home life is worse. Neal is confronted with the terrible truth that everyone in his family has been living a lie, aware that of his father’s peccadilloes but keeping them a secret to protect him and their own nuclear structure, at least until he goes to college (and there’s the added sting of Neal learning his father has almost certainly had more than one affair, since the woman his brother spotting him out with was a redhead). But all least those lies all come out of their caring for one another. Even Dr. Schweiber expresses regret in “The Garage Door,” telling Sam (who’s trapped in his dentist’s chair) about his infidelity coming from some desire for self-exploration he sees as passing — “All I need is time.”

The brief look we get at Daniel’s home life just reeks of despair and desperation, from that first glimpse of the junk-filled front yard. We learn his (unseen) father is seriously sick, his brother Joey apparently can’t be trusted to pick up his father’s pain meds and his mother would rather Daniel be around to work a minimum wage job and help her out than bother with finishing high school. The Desario household may even best previous dysfunction record holders the Kellys — no wonder Daniel and Kim have such a connection, one that’s showcased in this episode, despite their ups and downs. This episode sheds new light on Daniel’s character, on his aloofness and his moodiness. He deservedly has a lot on his mind, and his flirtation with being a “punker” is so goddamn sad, at least to us, because of what we’ve been shown.

10082010_fandg15_4.jpgTo Ken and Nick, as far as I can tell, the excursion to The Armpit is just another novelty, their default leader Daniel testing the waters (and the hairstyle — and as any former punk kid can tell you, his mistake came in using the whole egg and not the white alone to make those liberty spikes) of another cool subculture. But we’ve watched him come home with that Black Flag album and listen to it on headphones, alone in his room. Punk seems, for a second, like armor to Daniel, a way to channel the anger and frustration, to wear it like a bade, to embrace the cuts and bruises as “just another battle scar,” as he tells Jenna, trying to play tough. He wants to be a whole new person who doesn’t give a fuck about anything — but in actuality he’s lonely and wants the girl, and when things don’t work out the way he’d imagined, he goes running back to Kim, who embraces him without a word.

It’s a nice touch that the visit to the punk club wasn’t entirely in vain. Daniel may have gotten his head and nose split open and revealed himself to be a poser several times over (“Puss rules!” “It’s Pus.”), but Ken, out in the mosh pit at the end, is obviously having a grand time. But Matt, in many ways, Neal’s social suicide-embrace of ventriloquism — at school, even! — comes across as edgier, or at least more risk-taking, than Daniel’s safety pins and near nose piercing. What did you make of his implosion of a performance at the end of the Schweiber family’s traditional dental party?

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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