“I Prefer to Get High on Life”, or The Reasons Why I’d Like to Raid Millie Kentner’s Closet

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been really excited to watch a tv show. Yes, there were the first two seasons of Gossip Girl; before that, there was Sex and the City, but now it seems to be part of tv pre-history. In any case, when a tv show is long-running, it usually comes to a turning point: you don’t watch it because you really like it but because it’s become part of your weekly routine, it’s a habit you don’t want to dismiss. But when the show is short-lived, you treasure every single episode, because you know there’s a magic in it that won’t be repeated. I’ve recently started watching Freaks and Geeks, a show created by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow [1], aired on NBC in 1999/2000 and cancelled after one season only, thus following the fate of another cult show, My So-Called Life, aired in 1994/1995.

Many are the reasons why I like it so much – a very young James Franco, who plays the role of the “freak” Daniel; his girlfriend Kim Kelly (played by Busy Philipps), the epitome of the wild girl; Sam Weir and his adorable geeky friends; Mr Rosso, the hippie guidance counselor – and one is Millie Kentner, the nerdy, conservative and highly religious friend of the protagonist, Lindsay Weir. This character, played by Sarah Hagan, has slowly grown on me: at first, you tend to hate her because she’s a bigot and represents what Lindsay doesn’t want to be, but then you realize she’s much more than this. I like Millie because she’s a good-natured girl, who’s always ready to help her long-time friend, even if Lindsay treats her with condescension most of the time.

This is a fashion blog, after all, so, while speaking of Millie, her style cannot be left out, because it’s one of the reasons why I like her so much. What she wears reminds me of what I used to wear in high school – lots of sweaters, at times embellished by floral embroideries; neutral pants; flower-printed shirts and tops; cardigans and round-collar shirts. Her style screams unhip, unfashionable 70’s and that is why I appreciate it: Millie represents all things unglamourous, because she wears practical, wannabe-preppy, kind of childish clothes. Here are the outfits she sports in the episodes where she appears.

We first get to know her in the pilot. It’s 1980 and a new school year is beginning: Millie is very worried for her friend Lindsay, who has decided to quit the mathletes and started hanging out with a group of slouch students. Her first outfit sets the standard for the future: she’s wearing purple pants, a white cotton sweater and a long blue anorak with plaid lining.


Her white sweater is hand-embroidered with red roses and she’s also wearing a gold cross pendant, symbol of her religious faith. Her hair is long and straight, with central parting.

Later in the episode, she takes part into the homecoming dance at school. The visual contrast between Lindsay and Millie is striking: the former is wearing a military jacket and boyish clothes, while the latter wears a cute green chiffon dress, with long pleated sleeves, totally resembling the dresses Therese and Mary Lisbon – two of the protagonists of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides – wore at the prom. Millie is a clumsy girl, so it’s funny to see her playing air guitar.

In the second episode, Beers and Weirs, we see her on stage at school, during an assembly focusing on alcohol-related deaths. She’s acting in a sketch with other two recurring characters, Harris Trinsky (played by Stephen Lea Sheppard) and Cindy Sanders (played by Natasha Melnick). She’s wearing an outfit with a clear 70’s vibe (see her wide-leg camel pants).

She’s also wearing a grey cable-knit sweater and a floral double head-band on center-parted hair.


Later in the episode, she shows up at Lindsay’s house, whose parents are out of town for the week-end. Millie wants to be sure nothing bad happens at the party Lindsay has thrown. Here she’s wearing strawberry red pants and a pink Norwegian-style sweater with some buttons on the front. Her hair is always center-parted; this time, her head-band has been replaced by a barrette.


In the opening scene of the third episode – Tricks and Treats, set at Halloween – she’s at the bus stop, waiting for the school bus with Lindsay and the geeks. She’s wearing a pale yellow cardigan and a matching shirt. I remember I had many shirts of this style, when I was a teenager, and I loved them! It has a round collar with a ruffled trim. Millie is wearing hot pink barrettes on her hair. This scene is hilarious – Lindsay asks her if she’s already eating candy (it’s only 7:30 in the morning) and she replies: “It’s just Lik’m’aid. It makes my spit taste like fruit juice!”.


Later in the episode, we learn she’s not what she looks like. Lindsay sees her kissing a boy and this comes totally unexpected. Millie is not playing dumb, she’s not a man-eater, but she wants Lindsay not to tell anybody what she saw. In the screencap above, we can see the rest of her outfit, which includes a pleated plaid skirt (I had two when I was young and loved them!) and knee-high socks.


In the fourth episode – Kim Kelly Is My Friend – she makes a short appearance in the opening scene. She’s bringing some donuts at school but the Freaks (Nick, Daniel and Kim) stop her to steal some. She’s wearing a green argyle sweater and a white shirt; her hair is styled in ponytails with blue ball elastic holders.


Poor Millie! Because of the Freaks, her donuts fal to the ground. In the picture above, we can see she’s also wearing a blue skirt.


In the fifth episode – Tests and Breasts – Lindsay is in trouble when she decides to help Daniel in cheating an algebra test. Millie is good-natured and always thinks positive, so she can’t believe Lindsay has been accused of cheating by their maths teacher, Mr Kowchevski. She briefly appears in the episode: she’s wearing a flower-printed white top and a royal blue sweater, a combo she will sport in following episodes. Another recurring element in her style are pearl earrings, a lady-like touch in her old-fashioned approach to fashion.


In the sixth episode – I’m With the Band – she makes another short appearance: she’s in the school corridor and witnesses Sam’s naked run (the boy doesn’t want to have a shower after the gym lessons and he’s ready to leave the locker room naked to avoid it). Millie, as a highly religious girl, makes the sign of the cross when she sees him without clothes on. She’s wearing a plaid shirt (all buttoned), a forest green cardigan and chinos; she’s also wearing a hot pink thin head-band on her center-parted hair.

In Carded and Discarded (the seventh episode), Millie is not part of the action but, as usual, she stays by Lindsay’s side to warn her against the Freaks. She’s wearing a high-waist blue skirt, a grey cardigan and another shirt with ruffled-trim round collar (this time it’s pink with white details). It’s one of the rare cases in which she sports braids.

In Girlfriends and Boyfriends (the eighth episode), Millie wears a pink sweater with a floral embroidery on the front, paired to pants and to a lace-trimmed white shirt, an outfit we’ve already seen in a different version.

In Looks and Books (the eleventh episode), Millie has a lot of screen-time. Lindsay is having a hard time with her parents, who forbid her from seeing her freak friends again, after she crashed the family car while going around with them. For a short time, Lindsay tries to go back to her old persona – she even joins the mathletes again and wears the clothes she used to wear when she hung out with her childhood friends – and Millie is there to support her. In the picture above, set in Lindsay’s bedroom, Millie tries to comfort a desperate Lindsay. She’s wearing a flower-printed cream long-sleeved top and chinos.


After learning Lindsay is a mathlete again, Mr. Kowchevski asks her to take part into an upcoming competition. The teacher’s decision is criticised by some students but Millie immediately supports her friend. In this scene, she’s wearing a lovely pink sweater with a floral embroidery on one side, ruffled collar and cuffs. Many of you will surely consider it a granny sweater, but I think it’s gorgeous because it’s romantic and old-fashioned.


This is what Millie wore at the maths competition – a flower-printed shirt and a royal blue cardigan, paired to a blue skirt. Her hair always has a central parting, but this time she’s sporting a half updo.


Later in the episode, Millie invites some girl friends at her house for a sleepover. Lindsay stays there for a while, then decides to leave and goes out with the Freaks. Millie’s night-dress is in tune with the rest of her clothes: it’s floor-long, it has long sleeves and ruffles embellishing the neckline and a gathering on the bodice. Another revealing detail (something which tells a lot of the character) is her hairstyle: she goes to bed with her hair styled in a ponytail.


Her night-dress reminds me the ones seen, again, on the Lisbon sisters in the movie by Sofia Coppola. This scene is quite sad, in my opinion, because Millie finally realizes nothing can bring Lindsay back to her old self.


The girl fully realizes how much Lindsay has changed in the thirteenth episode, Chokin’ and Tokin’, but she’s still there by her side, no matter what. In this episode, Mr Weir reminds Lindsay that she promised to babysit for their neighbours that night. Unfortunately, Lindsay has just smoked some pot for the first time, so she asks Millie to help her. Millie replaces Lindsay as babysitter and looks after her, too, who is dealing with the effects of smoking pot. The scene above is set in the neighbours’ sitting room: Millie is wearing a pink sweater, a matching shirt and chinos; she’s also wearing white socks and square-toe suede lace-up shoes, which have a sturdy and masculine look.

Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers (the fourteenth episode) is unfortunately the last  featuring Millie. In the scene above, set at school, Millie is devastated: the night before, someone (we know it’s Kim and Lindsay’s fault) knocked down Goliath, her beloved dog. Lindsay is so upset when she hears this and would like to confess what happened, but Kim convinces her not to come clean. Here, Millie is wearing the same outfit she wore in Tricks and Treats.


Kim is sorry for what happened to Millie’s dog, so she befriends her. In the pic above, we can see Millie’s hairstyle – straight hair with central parting – embellished by a thin tortoise head-band.

When Millie asks Lindsay and Kim to attend Goliath’s funeral in her house’s garden, she wears a blue coat over the yellow cardigan and shirt and plaid skirt. She often wears knee-high socks with her pleated skirt, another detail which tells a million words: at school, nobody wears a uniform, but Millie’s outfits somehow reminds us of the classic schoolgirl uniform, doesn’t it?


Hanging around with Kim doesn’t necessarily mean trouble, but even Millie undergoes a change: she decides she’s going to the Who concerts with Kim and the Freaks. In this scene, set at school, Millie is wearing the same flower-printed top she wore in Looks and Books, a pair of army green pants and a cute black-trimmed cardigan.


The cardigan has some embroidered branches and the floral theme is underlined by the girl’s hair ornament, a tiny yellow flower.

Millie is so sad for her dog’s death and this causes a sort of personal crisis. After deciding to go to the Who concert, she even changes her style, wearing a denim jacket, a Who black tee and ripped jeans. The effect of this rock outfit is so strange on her, probably because we realize it represents a temporary rebellion against what she’s always believed in. When her mother finds out she’s going to the concert, she tries to change her mind, but the only result is that the girl tells her to go away and leave her alone. Kim and Lindsay are very worried by Millie’s behaviour (she even drinks a beer), so Kim finally admits she killed Goliath.

The closing scene of the episode sees Lindsay and Millie at Lindsay’s house: they decide not to go to the concert but to listen to records instead. Lindsay finds an old photo where they were posing with Goliath. Thanks to this bitter-sweet note, we see for the first time Lindsay trying to comfort her friend, so we can assume they will still be friends. Yes, we can only assume it because Millie doesn’t make an appearance in the last four episodes of the series, which is – I repeat – a pity, but I guess you can’t say much about a character in such a short time. Though we’re very different, I must admit I feel so much connected to her: I’ve never been a highly religious nor bigot person, but I totally remember what it means being the clumsy, un-fashionable, slightly out-of-tune one; I remember what it means wanting to be cool (and the freaks are definitely cool), though knowing you’ll never be part of that club.

I still haven’t finished watching the whole season: I’m savouring each episode, enjoying the plot and the characters, but at the same time I know I’ll never see their evolution, and this is very sad. It’s like saying goodbye to old friends, knowing you’ll never see them again.

[1] It’s not coincidental that one of the recurring directors of the show was Lesli Linka Glatter, who directed Now and Then in 1995,  a beautiful movie which tells a lot about being young and growing old with your friends.

Source.

15 comments

  1. ahh stavo scrivendo anche io un articolo su freaks and geeks 🙂 buahahah
    vedrai che l’ultima puntata will blow you mind!

    1. E infatti per quello ti ho scritto che ti ho pensata, scrivendo questo post.

      Sto cercando di vedere le ultime puntate scaglionate di due giorni l’una dall’altra; mi sto trattenendo dal guardarle tutte insieme, perchè so già che, finita la serie, mi mancheranno tutti i personaggi, Millie inclusa 😦

  2. I love every single word in this post! Mille was my fashion icon of G&F and your analysis is perfect! In my opinion the last episode is one of the best. It’s a chef d’oeuvre and shows how well done was the show.

    1. OMG, I’m so looking forward to watching the last episode!!! The show is gorgeous because it gets better and better, every episode is better than the one before.

      I was sure you would appreciate this post 🙂

    1. Ahahahah, esatto! Come ho scritto nel post, alle medie e nei primi anni delle superiori mi vestivo proprio come lei. Quei maglioni ricamati, infatti, sono così anni ’80!

      Se hai occasione, guardalo: è uno dei telefilm più belli che abbia mai visto!

  3. This is such an empowering post for me: it’s the revenge of the four-eyed nerdy I was in my early teens! Thanks superqueen ;))

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