Freaks and Geeks is among the most beloved cult TV shows of all time. Airing on NBC during the 1999-2000 season, it's one of the few high school series to focus on the kids at the social fringes—in other words, the freaks and geeks.
For the dramedy, set in 1980, creator/writer Paul Feig and executive producer/writer Judd Apatow pulled from their own awkward upbringings to create a show that was emotionally honest and highly relatable, but Freaks and Geeks was never a ratings hit, and NBC canceled it after 12 episodes. The executive who actually pulled the trigger, Garth Ancier, visited the set of Saturday Night Live, in 2014, during a week when Freaks and Geeks cast member Seth Rogen just happened to be hanging out. Rogen discussed the encounter on HuffPost Live, saying he and Ancier talked about the premature cancelation.
According to Rogen, Ancier said that "Judd [Apatow] wouldn't listen to my notes"—"notes" being industry speak for the instructions executives give showrunners to "improve" their series. Ancier's biggest note for Freaks and Geeks was that the characters never got "a victory." In other words, he wanted Apatow to abandon the very essence of the show's premise. Apatow refused, ratings didn't improve, and the network pulled the plug—freeing up a stellar cast of future stars that included Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, Linda Cardellini, and Busy Phillips.