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10 Ways Judd Apatow Made Nerds Cool

THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, director, co-writer and co-producer Judd Apatow on set, 2005, (c) Universal/

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By Leslie Schapira

For years, nerds have gotten a bad rap. From Urkel to Screech, the ultra-awkward, rather homely characters we’ve seen on film and TV have been deemed untouchables in our social caste system. But all that changed when Judd Apatow came into the picture and turned our ideas of so-called losers into heroes. Since Judd is bringing his nerd cred to this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, we thought we’d take a look at some of the strides the Trainwreck director has made for nerd kind.

10. He helped introduce the world to Freaks and Geeks


Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s high school dramedy wasn’t exactly queen bee when it aired in 1999, only surviving 18 episodes. But like many freaks and geeks that we knew — ahem — or were in high school, this low-rated series blossomed into a beautiful cult following and launched its young cast (which included the likes of James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel) to fame.

9. He made a 40-year-old virgin lovable.


Before Apatow’s hit 2005 movie, the idea of a 40-year-old with his “V card” still intact would’ve been an automatic turn off to any girl who didn’t have a priest-fetish. But Apatow’s endearing character, perfectly portrayed by Steve Carell, gave us a soft spot for the guy who thought that breasts felt like sand. See kids? It’s okay to wait.

8. He proved that nerds could be “Superbad.

SUPERBAD, Christoper Mintz-Plasse, Aviva, 2007. ©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

Only in Apatow-land do guys like Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Michael Cera get to live out the crazy, borderline criminal night that every video-gamer who lives with his mom fantasizes about. The Apatow-produced Superbad is practically porn for geeks.

7. He helped make TV safe for different viewpoints and body types.



While TV starlets in the ’90s were out to out-starve each other, Apatow chose to go a different direction with Girls, the hit Lena Dunham created series that Apatow coproduces.  For all you trendsetters out there: bulimia is out, imperfection is in.

6. He lets the geek get the hot girl.


Apatow’s Knocked Up might have been the ultimate score for awkward, hairy potheads everywhere. Nothing gives a nerd hope like seeing a jobless pothead like Seth Rogan impregnate a hot babe like Katherine Heigl.

5. He glorifies the inappropriate.

A female-driven wedding comedy should theoretically be a cue for a guy to head for the door. But Bridesmaids, which Apatow produced, was a box office hit with men and women thanks to its laugh-out-loud comedic moments and smart outlook on modern relationships. Come for the vomiting, stay for the heartfelt and hilarious performances.

4. He makes it okay to get old.


Nothing used to say “uncool” like being middle-aged. But This Is 40 makes the thought of being over the hill a bit more acceptable — or at least, a tad less frightening. If Paul Rudd can get old, so can we.

3. He gives nerds cool best friends.

GET HIM TO THE GREEK, from left: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, 2010. ph: Glen Wilson/©Universal Picture

Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

Nothing gives a geek street cred like having an open friendship with a rock star. Get Him to the Greek, another comedy with the Apatow brand, gives cool guys everywhere the thumbs up to buddy up with the Jonah Hills of the world.

2. He made being super annoying, like, totally acceptable.


Who knew that an “Ohmigod”-uttering, Juicy Couture-wearing Jewish American Princess would be accepted amongst Brooklyn’s coolest hipsters. But Shoshanna Shapiro from Girls has proven to be one of TV’s most confident and ballsy characters. Like, seriously. Meanwhile, Superbad‘s McLovin and the geeks from Freaks and Geeks are now beloved comedy icons. A far cry from the days when Urkel annoyed Carl with lines like “Got any cheeeese??”

1. He’s a nerd himself

Universal Pictures Courtesy Everett Collection

Universal Pictures Courtesy Everett Collection

Apatow once described his younger self as under-appreciated, invisible and weird. But this one time underdog is ultimate example of how nerds can rule the world.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


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.


Give Back

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…