He’s been known for his big screen work rather than his small screen efforts in the past decade-and-a-half, but filmmaker Judd Apatow’s best work is still his 1999 NBC TV series “Freaks and Geeks” according to various critics and columnists.
Apatow has famously had a troubled history with broadcast networks with his shows like “Undeclared” and “The Critic” all being cancelled fairly quickly into their airings. More recently he’s had no such problems with his work on shows like HBO’s “Girls” and Netflix’s “Love”,
On a new episode of the ‘Remote Controlled’ podcast (via The Playlist), he revealed he’s happy never return to free-to-air due to the pressures involved:
“No. There is nothing that has made my life better than not working for network television. I’m sure there are great people and changes and there may be the nicest person in the world that is helpful in that process. The elements of network television that people rarely talk about is it’s creativity with a gun to your head. They can cancel you at any moment.
It’s not like you’re in the middle of your series and Ted Sarandos walks on the set and says ‘Unplug it.’ You’re getting to finish thoughts. You make a bunch, and then you have a conversation. You want a bunch more? Okay, I’ll make a bunch more. But for network television, on Episode 2, if the ratings are bad, you’ll get a call from the network. ‘We need more hot chicks on the show. Ratings are low.’ And you’re like, what? What is happening? I don’t think that that’s the fix that we need. ‘Do it or you’re cancelled.’ You’re up all night crying.”
Many other creators sympathise, which is why many from the big and small screen arenas have flocked to streaming services over broadcast networks who will need to offer more creative freedom and full season guarantees to keep talent involved.