SHE’S ALL THAT: Kim Kelly

She’s All That is a segment dedicated to the loving worship of our favourite female characters.

Kim Kelly SQ feature image

Kim Kelly was, in the words of Sam Weir, “a psycho” at the start of Freaks and Geeks. She was rude, kind of repulsive, and worst of all, a bully. Then, something changed.

In Kim Kelly Is My Friend, the fourth episode of the show, we had an insight into Kim’s life outside of school. All of her ‘shortcomings’ somehow made sense – the way she talked down to people, how she saw others, and her reaction to Lindsay becoming part of her clique the ‘freak’ crowd. People aren’t born as bullies, they’re made into them.

Fictional high school settings rarely depict bullies as anything but one note, shallow incarnations of a human being. Things happen that shape the way we are and Lindsay sort of represented how we viewed Kim (and others like her) in the beginning. The idea that the ‘mean girl’ actually has feelings and a life outside of being that ‘mean girl’ isn’t a reality to most of us. It’s difficult to understand, especially when you’re the one being bullied, but someone who is a bully isn’t a superficial creation, they are home-grown; a product of their upbringing, environment, situations and circumstances.

When Kim arranged dinner after school with Lindsay, her mum and step-dad (in a bid to get her family to see she was hanging out with ‘good kids’), we witnessed just a snippet of what happened at home. Kim was surrounded by abuse, constantly belittled at every turn and labelled as the no-good bum that wouldn’t amount to anything. The way she was treated by her mum was reflected in how she treated others.

Bringing the high achieving student from a ‘respectable’ family home was Kim’s last resort and the only way to prove that she was doing okay, that her life was going to plan. You’re not a reflection of the people you hang out with and this is exactly what Kim tried to prove to her mother– she’s her own person; an individual capable of making decisions, good or bad.

Kim and Lindsay both had their own issues to deal with. Something like rolling and smoking a joint for the first time was a big deal to Lindsay, whereas Kim worried about graduating from high school. Lindsay was used to getting A grades and coasting through tests, unlike Kim who was seen as being ‘stupid’ for thinking that On The Road was “boring”.

It’s a universal feeling that our problems aren’t comparable to someone else’s, and of course, there are privileges that a lot of us get that others don’t, but those issues are important to us. Kim didn’t want to be seen as anything else but her; she wasn’t looking for pity. All she wanted was for someone to notice she had something to say, that, when you got to know her, she’s actually okay and not defined by what goes on in the Kelly household.

After Kim’s centric episode, she changed. Not in the way you’d expect, though. She was still butting heads with on-and-off boyfriend Daniel and was always real-talkin’ honest. Her feisty attitude was intact and she stayed a firm believer of not taking any bullshit. But, through all of the madness of Kim’s character, she showed that she was a good friend and not ‘stupid’ like nearly every person told her she was.

We got her; I got her. And, most importantly, Kim stuck up her middle finger with pride at those that didn’t ‘get her’.

Words & Collage by Cherokee

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