IFC: freaks, geeks, undeclared, arrested

December 14, 2010

‘Tis the season to don your blanket burrito.  For those of you fortunate (and wise) enough to live anywhere but the Midwest, the blanket burrito can be a fashion statement.  However, for the rest of us who are freezing our freaking heinies off in Chicago, the Twin Cities (OMG! watch the video below to see the Metrodome collapse!), Wisconsin or Indiana, the blanket burrito is a necessity.  Please refer to the diagram above, compliments of the American Alpine Institute’s Climbing Blog, for instructions on how to wrap yourself in a blanket burrito.

Once you’ve tightly wrapped yourself in a blanket and have all your required accessories within arm’s reach (remote controls, cellular phone, tumbler of hot toddy, et cetera), tune in to IFC. Besides the fact that they have a great website with many interesting articles, the Independent Film Channel airs some of the best TV that many have overlooked/forgotten.  (Check the website to find the IFC channel in your area, by provider.)

Currently, you can watch marathons of Arrested Development and Undeclared, the lesser known follow-up to the also little known gem Freaks and Geeks, both from the creative machine that is Judd Apatow and both spawned before his empire was built.

Vintage Apatow

IFC aired Freaks and Geeks last month, but you can still get the same humor profile from its follow-up, Undeclared.  If you have enjoyed an Apatow flick in the last ten years, or if you are a breathing human being, you can enjoy this short-lived sitcom about kids getting their feet wet at college.  Not only is the dialogue witty and situations comical (see what I did there?), the cast is solid, the portrayal of college life is realistic, and the guest spots are an imdb fan’s dream.  To name a few: Adam Sandler, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, Fred Willard, Ted Nugent, Will Ferrell, Martin Starr, and Ben Stiller.  Click here to see episode clips and extras at the IFC website.

RA, Amy Poehler, and Jay Baruchel's dad, Loudon Wainwright III

Will Ferrell plays an unseemly character...

There are numerous high school coming of age sitcoms, but the college experience is a relatively untapped premise.  (As evidence, compare Wikipedia’s category list of “High School Television Series” with “College Television Series.”)  It seems to me that network execs are just beginning to grasp this and trying to run with it.  Case in point: TBS’ Glory Daze has been getting some buzz lately, and it looks like it might have a good chance of making it.  Community is another example of a television show featuring the college experience, albeit, one that is seemingly less mainstream, but one that tells a similar story, nonetheless.  As one who has had both college experiences (the traditional, moving away from home for the first time and the less traditional, stuck with losers at a community college) I can tell you that both experiences are great mediums for the telling of a modern bildungsroman.  To its credit, Community has just recently started to show great potential for this, and I really hope they stick with it.

All that being said, Undeclared foresaw this niche almost ten years ago, and it is a great throwback to the college freshman experience.  Luckily for us, IFC provides the platform to view it.  Throwing your first kegger, getting really ill without having your mom around, opening your first credit card, closing your first credit card, being forced out of your room so your roommate can TCOB, cheating and getting away with it, and who can forget the disastrous cafeteria food?  Apatow really has his finger on the pulse of, well, growing up.

Now.  While I have attempted to steer clear of making the case for AD on this blog with the exception of subtle shout outs (I feel that the show is too good for someone as “lowly” as me to have to “vouch” for it), I will insert this quick blurb:

Arrested Development and its cast and crew won or was nominated for the following honors:

  • 3 Writers Guild Awards
  • 8 Television Critics Association Awards
  • Future Classic TV Land Award
  • 3 SAG Awards
  • 9 Satellite Awards
  • 3 Producers Guild Awards
  • 3 Golden Globes
  • 22 Emmys

That’s not even a complete list.  But don’t let the mainstream awards tell you (because trust me, this show went completely over the heads of the mainstream), check it out for yourself on IFC all this month.  To meet the Bluths, click here.

"Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together..."

Coming in January, IFC will air three more “under the radar” shows: The Larry Sanders Show (“Hey, now!”), Mr. Show, and The Ben Stiller Show. Corresponding blog posts to follow.