Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson's Creek
How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television
The untold stories of seven revolutionary teen shows (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks, The O.C., Friday Night Lights, and Glee) that shaped the course of modern television and our pop cultural landscape forever.
The modern television landscape is defined by influential and ambitious shows for and about teenagers. Groundbreaking series like Euphoria, Sex Education, and Pen15 dominate awards season and lead the way when it comes to progressive, diverse, and creative storytelling. So how did we get here from Beverly Hills, 90210?
In Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson’s Creek, entertainment journalist Thea Glassman takes readers behind the scenes of seven of the most culturally significant series of the last three decades, drawing on dozens of new interviews with showrunners, cast, crewmembers, and more. These shows not only launched the careers of such superstars as Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan, Claire Danes, and Seth Rogen, but they also took young people seriously, proving that teen TV could be smart, revolutionary, and “important”—and stay firmly entrenched in pop culture long after it finished airing. And while many critics insist that prestige dramas like The Sopranos and Mad Men paved the way for television, some of the most groundbreaking work was actually happening inside the fictional hallways of high schools across America in teen shows whose impact remains visible on our screens today.
“As addicting as an afternoon bingeing your favorite TV show. In this book, Thea Glassman has written the definitive text on the teen shows that defined our popular culture. Insightful, smart, delightful. A must-read for all pop culture devotees.” —Dana Schwartz, New York Times bestselling author of Anatomy: A Love Story
“Freaks, Gleeks & Dawson’s Creek is as sharp, clever and full of heart as the seven iconic TV shows Thea Glassman so eloquently writes about within these pages. Thea takes us on a lovely behind-the-scenes tour of a glorious bygone era, when TV was a slow, seasonal burn, characters were old familiar friends and their relationships something to live and die for.” —Tom Kapinos, Showrunner and Executive Producer of Dawson’s Creek
“Thea Glassman has done her homework—I’m happy to be included in this fun and informative book.” —Winnie Holzman, Creator of My So-Called Life
“Clear your schedule and cancel your evening plans: I stayed up all night reading Thea Glassman’s smart, insightful, funny book like it was the notes for tomorrow’s trig test I had forgotten to study for. This book is the perfect read for anyone who ever fell in love with a TV show about adolescence that felt like it spoke just to you, be it My So-Called Life or Freaks and Geeks or Friday Night Lights. Freaks, Gleeks and Dawson’s Creek is a book to savor, whether you are in high school, remember high school fondly, or wish you didn’t remember it at all.” —Saul Austerlitz, author of Generation Friends
“Thea Glassman has served up a lively inside look at the making of the shows that spoke to the modern teenage experience in groundbreaking ways. Full of heart, drama, and delicious insight, Freaks, Gleeks and Dawson’s Creek is a must-read for anyone who swooned over Riggins, who identified with Angela Chase or Seth Cohen or the New Directions, and who laughed and cried watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Reading this book felt like watching my favorites all over again—I shed nostalgic tears!” —Erin Carlson, author of I’ll Have What She’s Having and Queen Meryl
“Freaks, Gleeks and Dawson’s Creek is compulsively readable, teeming with insights into what made our favorite teen shows some of television’s most influential series. Reading this book is like dishing with a good friend who loves TV as much as you do—except that Thea Glassman has taken the extra step of speaking to the creatives who made these shows so impactful. A delightful and informative read from beginning to end, it deserves a spot on every TV fan’s bookshelf.” —Kirthana Ramisetti, author of Good Morning America’s pick Dava Shastri’s Last Day
“If you’re someone who pauses TV shows to say ‘Did you know that . . . ’ then this book is definitely for you, with some of the best behind-the-scenes stories for your trivia arsenal. Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson’s Creek is an insightful history of how today’s television came to be and is chock-full of interviews with the people who were actually there. I’d say I couldn’t put this book down, but it’s so nostalgic that I had to pause after every chapter to watch the shows again!” —Em Schulz, New York Times bestselling author of A Haunted Road Atlas and host of the podcast And That’s Why We Drink