Of the many TV shows that were cancelled too early, Freaks and Geeks is one that hurts the most. Created by Judd Apatow and Paul Feig for NBC, and starring fresh faced unknowns like Seth Rogen, Lina Cardellini, James Franco, and Jason Segel, it was agonisingly cut short after one season of brutally honest yet funny high school shenanigans.
Everyone on that show has since become huge stars in their own right and have been in some massive blockbusters, but the seeds of their eventual rise to fame were all planted early on by Judd.
Not because he likes them or anything (though that is one part of it) but because he was out for pure revenge on NBC.
Speaking at the 2014 PaleyFest, Apatow admitted that everything he’s done in his career was “revenge for the people who canceled Freaks and Geeks.” While this may seem like a bit of a joke, there’s some merit to it.
Judd’s first big hit was 40 Year Old Virgin and he has since parlayed that success into making the careers of his Freaks and Geeks cast. His follow up film to Virgin was Knocked Up, which starred Seth alongside a heap of other Freaks and Geeks cast members and their buddies, and it was an even bigger hit than Virgin.
In fact, all of the films directed by Judd have had at least one Freaks and Geeks cast member in it in some capacity, which is definitely not a coincidence.
Beyond his own films, Judd also used his producing power to get films by his Freaks and Geeks cast made that would’ve otherwise been thrown in the trash by other studios.
There was Seth’s Superbad (which starred launched the career of his buddy Jonah Hill) and Pineapple Express (which revitalised James Franco’s career), Jason’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Paul’s Bridesmaids. One gets the feeling that Judd couldn’t care less if all these films flopped, just as long as the NBC suit who cancelled Freaks and Geeks was brought to tears.
Judd ultimately won (and is still winning) his super-petty rampage of revenge because not only did all those aforementioned movies become smash hits but nearly all of his Freaks and Geeks cast are huge stars because of it. Hell, Seth is in The Lion King, Linda is in Dead To Me, and Jonah has two frigging Oscar nominations. That’s some good revenging right there.
So next time you see watch a Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill film, just know that this was all possible because Judd Apatow just wanted to make the NBC executive who cancelled his TV show cry.