Thursday, August 1, 2013


So, Wonder Wife and I just finished watching the entire Freaks and Geeks oeuvre - not a Herculean task, since there were only ever eighteen episodes. The discussion of how a brilliant series can come and go so quickly (cf. Firefly) is for another time; right now, I want to focus on just one aspect of the final episode of this series about burnouts and nerds, the yin-yang misfits of high school.

Daniel Desario, one of the freaks (James Franco in a surprisingly textured performance), is going through a rough patch; he decides to play Dungeons and Dragons with the geeks. Here's a scene compilation:

While almost none of the game mechanics are elaborated, the show gets across the essence and appeal of the game perfectly, I think. "We sit around and crack jokes and eat junk food all night while we're fighting dragons and saving princesses and stuff." It's the community, the shared experience, and the story that matter; the dice rolling is just there to help things along.

There have been a couple of other shows that have used portrayals of Dungeons and Dragons to good ends. 

Community featured a D&D episode that didn't just avoid or ignore the game mechanics, it presented them totally incorrectly: only the DM ever rolled the 20-sided die. The session played by the motley collection of community college study group members was, however, completely accurate in its portrayal of the kind of psychodrama that can bleed into roleplaying when adults play D&D and are concerned with more complex issues than "saving princesses and stuff."

Another show lovingly mocked the difference between D&D geeks and civilians. Britain's The IT Crowd featured the company computer nerds entertaining some visiting VIPs with a rousing session of tabletop roleplaying.

After a slow start, the bros (what's the British equivalent of "bro"?) are swept away into roleplaying and have a great time. Hey, I've seen it happen.

There was an episode (or two, I imagine) of the The Bing Bang Theory that focused on D&D, but have never seen those in situ, so I'll pass on commenting.

Any more? Four major references in ten years or so seems too few even for a fringe activity like D&D.

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