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Freaks And Geeks neither glorifies nor demonizes weed

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie or TV show coming out that week. This week: Inspired by HBO’s High Maintenance, our favorite episodes about pot.

Freaks And Geeks, “Chokin’ And Tokin’” (season one, episode 13; originally aired 3/20/2000)


Since Freaks And Geeks ended its first and only season back in 2000, almost everyone involved has worked on more R-rated fare. Among other movies full of sex, violence, drugs, and profanity, writer-director Judd Apatow collaborated with stars Seth Rogen and James Franco on the extremely pot-centric action comedy Pineapple Express. This makes it especially easy to imagine Rogen and company rolling their eyes at “Chokin’ And Tokin’,” the Freaks And Geeks episode where former geek and aspiring freak Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) gets high for the first time. Even at its edgiest, the show was relatively family-friendly, and “Tokin’” gives its main character an unpleasant dalliance with marijuana, while questioning its stoner characters’ devotion to their drug of choice.

But the episode, written by Apatow, tells a pot story with a sweet balance of drug skepticism and acknowledgment that getting high isn’t the end of the world. Lindsay’s experiment is spurred by an argument with Nick (Jason Segel) over the increasing amount of time he spends stoned, and the show is perceptive about the way his drug use takes on properties of addiction even if it doesn’t involve actual physical dependence. The episode isn’t anti-marijuana so much as it is upfront about how boring it can be to hang out with someone who smokes all the time.


Lindsay, meanwhile, stung by Nick’s charges that she’s judgmental and naïve, has an experience that’s more low-key wackiness than full-on bad trip. Some of her reactions to the drug are cartoonish, but Cardellini shows off her comic skills in a variety of scenarios, from accessing her nerdy instincts by going into research overdrive to running away from a child who wants to play hide and seek (“Give me some space, man!”) to deciding that her entire life may be the dream of a nearby sleeping dog.

The episode also finds the time to deepen Lindsay’s straight-arrow former best friend Millie (Sarah Hagan), who Lindsay enlists to help her when she has to report to a babysitting job while extremely stoned. Freaks And Geeks was always about teenagers straying from and/or returning to their emerging personalities, and the conversation a stoned Lindsay has with Millie about their diminished friendship is a touchingly honest—and reflected in the episode’s non-drug-related geek story, wherein Bill (Martin Starr) goes into critical condition when a bully (who he’s known since grade school) puts peanuts in the allergic nerd’s sandwich. Apatow, Rogen, and Segel have participated in plenty of other drug scenes, often very funny ones, but “Chokin’ And Tokin’” has an earnestly searching quality that is hard to replicate.

Availability: “Chokin’ And Tokin” is available to stream on Netflix, and can be purchased digitally and on DVD and Blu-ray.


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