Staff Picks: ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ Purim and Louie Anderson on ‘Baskets’


Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Scroll through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Freaks and Geeks on Blu-ray

I’ll make no waves and warm no takes by stating, definitively, that Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks is one of the finest comedy shows in television history – a single season of yearning, awkward, hilarious perfection, masterfully capturing the heartbreak, camaraderie, and prickliness of high school in the ‘80s (and the ‘90s, and today, and forever). And it was one of the most important shows for the current comedy landscape, not only breaking ground on the specific type of emotionally connected comedy/drama that’s come to dominate the film and television laughers of Apatow, Feig, and many more, but introducing such acting talent as Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, James Franco, and Busy Phillips. Point is, its sparkly new Blu-ray treatment from Shout Factory (out this week) ports over the many hours of commentaries, outtakes, bloopers, deleted scenes, auditions, and promos from their initial, exhaustive DVD release (and add in a new conversation with Feig and Apatow), as well as not one but two remasters. You see, not only did they 4K scan the original camera negatives for a new widescreen presentation – they also include the original full-frame ratio of its original television airings, for all the fans who want to see them exactly as they remember them. And that, my friends, is exquisitely geeky. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

I know what you’re thinking: You watched The Daily Show on Thursday, Saturday Night Live on Saturday, and Last Week Tonight on Sunday. Do you really need to watch another political satire show on Monday? The answer is yes. Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal goes beyond the easy digs at presidential candidates, zeroing in on issues that fall through the cracks: unchecked rape kits, sexual harassment in the workplace, abortion restrictions. She even talking openly and without (much) judgment to young Trump supporters. Many of the segments deal with women’s issues, and we’re lucky to have Bee — currently the only female late-night host — to shine a spotlight on matters that affect so many people, yet receive so little coverage. Of course, all of that wouldn’t mean much if she wasn’t funny. But she is: witty at times, raunchy at others, and willing to make herself the butt of jokes, such as hiding her huge crush on Ted Cruz or accidentally smashing a tiny version of Gloria Steinem. If you’ve been waiting to see if Full Frontal is worth a slot during your Monday nights, I can tell you, it is. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor

I Am Curious (Yellow) (dir. Vilgot Sjöman)

A lot of wild, politically radical, and formally experimental films came out of Europe in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I Am Curious (Yellow), from 1967 (its “Blue” companion appeared in 1968), was among Sweden’s contributions. It stars Lena Nyman and Sjöman as… an inquisitive young actress named Lena and the director making the film she stars in, respectively. And its storyline is just as tangled and meta as that suggests, following the politically electrified Lena from surreal protests to explicitly rendered trysts with a right-wing lover to interviews with people who represent a cross-section of Swedish society and political views, with Sjöman often pulling back to expose the filmmaking process. I Am Curious (Yellow) is one the most energizing leftist films you’ll ever see, and all credit for that is due to Nyman’s exuberant, magnetic performance. I saw the movie as part of BAM’s fantastic Evergreen Revew series []; if you missed this rare screening, I can only imagine Sjöman would approve of you seeking it out on YouTube. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Cullen Omori’s New Misery

Chicago band Smith Westerns weren’t meant for this world, but not for any real reason. It’s just that it was a bunch of teenagers who met in college and got big on glam rock homage, and fame does not look good on boys who idolize destruction. So when that band dissolved, and frontman Cullen Omori set off on his own, hopes were there, but they were not high.

Well, with low expectations come great surprises, at least with Omori’s just-released New Misery, an album drenched in the ’80s but deeper than that would imply. Omori’s voice is still the floaty thing found on Smith Westerns’ albums, but the production on this record is so stellar that it sounds as strong as a stadium crowd. The songwriting is ace, too, with songs like “Two Kinds” and single “Cinnamon” reeking of Mick Jagger repetition, in the best possible way. Summer might be a whole season away, but this album’s certainly gunning to be its indie soundtrack. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Louie Anderson on Baskets

With its unrelatable characters and general air of malaise, Zach Galafianakis’ and Louis C.K.’s Baskets may not be a comedy for everyone (it exists in a similar emotional realm as Louie, but Galafianakis’ Chuck Baskets is alienating, whereas Louie is likeably unlikeable). Certain aspects, however, keep me coming back weekly — and enthusiastically. Of course, there’s the hilarity of the premise of post-graduate malaise after an education spent at a prestigious… clown school. But as far as performances are concerned, it’s Louie Anderson’s role as Chuck Basket’s (and his twin brother’s) mother Christine Baskets that, surprisingly, grounds the show. While Anderson easily could have given a Hairspray-the-remake performance, he’s made Christine one of the strongest and most emotionally believable characters on the series. This also makes her the funniest. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Catherine O’Hara in ‘For Your Consideration’s’ Purim-Based Film-Within-a-Film


My staff pick this week is Purim, a relatively minor Jewish holiday I have in no way actively celebrated since I was in Hebrew school. However, I’m not the first one to think that the holiday is particularly resonant this year. It’s about a racist politician, Haman, and his ultimate downfall. As the rhetoric in the election gets scarier and scarier, it actually feels appropriate to contemplate the lessons of this holiday. In short: don’t listen to demagogues and powerful racists. And eat delicious triangular pastries, too.Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large