School Girl Crush: James Franco’s Daniel Desario, The King of ‘Freaks and Geeks’

Freaks and Geeks is arguably the best cancelled television show in history. In 1999, after only eighteen episodes, the series dedicated to the accurate portrayal of 1970’s Michigan with an indie flair, abruptly ended.

While each character was lovable and added a unique element to the show, the dreamiest by far was Daniel Desario (James Franco). The ambitionless, product of a broken home, Daniel, led the freaks–the lowest-rung losers of the high school social hierarchy. Daniel Desario was handsome, charming and admirable as possible, he was less like the alienated slackers you remember from high school and more like a stoned James Dean.

He did all the stereotypical outlaw stuff that made a teenager an outcast in the 70’s, but somehow Daniel still managed to be hands down the coolest kid at William McKinley High School. There was a vulnerability to the character, and even though it was clear he embraced being a freak, he desired to be more. He was constantly observing others, their hobbies and lifestyles and even engaging those different from him in deep conversation. It was as if he admired them and desired to escape himself and become a totally different person. This was his most endearing trait.

Even the main character, Lindsey (Linda Cardellini), starts hanging out with the freaks primarily because she’s attracted to Daniel. She throws a party just to get an opportunity to hang with him and is understandably bummed when he spends the duration of the party making out with his on again off again, girlfriend Kim (Busy Philipps) instead.

Daniel even juggles relationships between two best friends in one episode, and by the end, both girls still like him, but their friendship has been destroyed. In fact, his charisma and good looks allow him to manipulate people constantly.

Daniel Desario is just one of the many great things about the Freaks and Geeks experience, before you know it you are completely involved with the characters and then it’s over. In many ways the show was ahead of its time even though it was set in the past. Not many shows can pull off humor, nostalgia and drama, but Freaks and Geeks did. Each actor breathed life into their character and made this show a cult classic.

There is so much to say about this series but I will end with this: the Freaks and Geeks soundtrack! It features music from Styx, Van Halen, Deep Purple, Santana, Janis Joplin, Kiss, Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, Rush, Cream, Billy Joel, Journey, The Moody Blues, Queen, Kansas, Joe Jackson, The Cars, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, Mac Davis, Seals & Crofts, Bob Seger, Grateful Dead, The Who, and more. In fact, most of the shows budget was spent on the music alone. Being that the music highlights many key moments in the show, and is one of the most crucial elements of the series, I’d say it was money well spent.

Freaks and Geeks the complete series is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

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