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Your guide to the upcoming nerd TV show boom


With the growing ascendancy and popularity of the “nerd” archetype, especially as exemplified by the hugely popular THE BIG BANG THEORY, a bunch of television programs exploring and/or exploiting this personality type are on the drawing board. Some of them might be fun, but some of them are probably going to make nerd blood boil and dominate late night discussions at SF conventions for months to come. Herewith, a field guide.

The early history:


I can’t remember the name of this show but it ran on MTV or someplace for a little while and featured very nerdy smart people in a classic quiz show. Via the comments this has been identified as Beat the Geeks which aired on Comedy Central briefly from 2001-2:

On the show, contestants face off in trivia matches against “geeks” who are well-versed in music, movies, and television, as well as a fourth guest geek with an alternate area of expertise which varies from episode to episode. The object is to outsmart the geek at their own subject; as a handicap, the geeks are given questions of considerably greater difficulty than the contestants.

as we recall, pne of the contestants had an inappropriate pony tail and another was known as “The Master” or some other kind of highly aggrandized nerd name. The nerds on this show reminded me heavily of people that I tried to spend as little time as possible with in certain convention situations. It ran VERY VERY early in the nerd-fetishing cycle, long before anything nerdy became even a tiny bit cool. Definitely a pioneer!


This reality show ran on the CW for FIVE SEASONS. In it a bunch of nerdy guys were paired with beautiful women who would teach them about love and life and compete in quizzes and challenges. The idea was that the hots girls would lead the way through common sense, while the nerds would answer questions about boron and neutrinos. Of course, the entire premise was spectacularly sexist AND nerdist – in the fourth season a female nerd was paired with a male “beauty” to quell some of the criticism. The “beauties” also tended to come from the “professional reality star” end of the spectrum — a buoyant, siliconed crew of would-be fitness models, centerfolds and so on, of the type seen on other shows like ROCK OF AGES. I watched a few episodes of this and was appalled.


Graham Linehan’s great Britcom isn’t really a nerdshow per se, but Chris Dowd’s lovable fuck-up Roy and Richard Ayoade’s unlovable Asperger’s case Moss do remind you of every uncomfortable encounter with an IT person you ever had


This is actually present/past as its a TLC pilot for a show about geek dating set at speed dating events at various comic-cons. A two part special aired on TLC on December 18th. The show is hosted by Ryan Glitch, who hosts convention speed dating shows “IRL” as we call it.

We managed to miss it, but Jessica Nagel at sciencefiction.com did not care for it.

I feel that this show, along with most reality TV shows, take the few extreme cases and exploits them. I felt bad for “Chewie” because he is that awkward nerd. He wants to find someone to love, and you know what that is great for him. I know, he has to sign the release that says that he can put himself on TV with his story and what happened during the event. But we come to the same basic issue that comes with any reality show; how much is real. How much of it was editing? How much of it made him look more awkward than what he actually is?

We’ve already covered this “Jersey Shore with geeks,” which is just a bit of a conceptual oxymoron. Very, very frightening.

Untitled LARPing reality show:

Recently a casting call from the producers of PAWN STARS went out looking for what would appear to be a reality show about live action role players:

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Danielle Gervais. I’m a Casting Producer based in New York City and I’m currently casting an exciting new tv project that will be dedicated to Live Action Role Play and the groups and individuals who participate in it! We’re searching the country for the most dynamic, interesting and dedicated groups of players and we’re open to all types of live action role play, both fantasy and historic. I’m including the casting information below – if you’d like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to speaking with you!

All My Best,



From the Producer’s of History Channel’s Pawn Stars comes a brand new show dedicated to Historic and/or Fantasy Role Play and the people who love it (and live it!)

We’re searching the country for a passionate and talented group of Historic and/or Fantasy Live Action Role Play participants to feature on this new series, which will follow them as they battle their way from city to city. If you or someone you know would be interested in participating in a TV Project dedicated 100% to Historic and/or Fantasy Live Action Role Play, we want to hear from you!

Please email us with some photos, a brief description of yourself and your group and why you’d be perfect for this show! Don’t forget to include your contact information.

Danielle Gervais

Casting Producer RolePlayTVCasting1@gmail.com 212.564.2607 x 2365

— Danielle Gervais Casting Producer

This went out in November, so no need to send your resume. LARPing features a variety of amazing personality types, and this could be an entertaining show if it is shot with some creativity — and not of the lying type.


Back in June a casting call went out for a show about comic book readers set in Kevin Smith’s comic shop in Red Bank, NJ and now AMC has picked up the show for a six-episode run early next year, and given it the highly coveted premiere slot right after THE WALKING DEAD’s February mini-season debut. We can expect lots of high-level Smith promo in the coming weeks:

Smith said some major selling points for him were meth and zombies (and Don Draper). “(If) they’d pushed just a little harder in the negotiations, I’d have done this show for no payment beyond early access to every episode of ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ and ‘Walking Dead,’?” riffed the “Red State” helmer in a release.

Smith is also said to have a “Pawn Stars for fanboys” type show in the works.


As you can see, there will be a surplus of TV shows featuring Our Chosen Lifestyle on TV very, very soon. While many of them sound like they are based on very annoying stereotypical ideas about nerds, one or two of them — SECRET STASH in particular — might have something to say about the topic that doesn’t send us into a “angry video game” style rant.

  1. The Geek game show was called “Beat the Geek.” It had contestants face off against resident fans of different subjects. There was a Television Geek, Comic Book Geek, Film Geek and a Music Geek (I think).

    I used to watch it, envious that I wasn’t on the show since I would’ve given the comic geek a run for his money.

    I would have added “Freaks and Geeks” to early history. Bill Haverchuck FTW.

  2. And if we go further back, there’s the resident geek who sometimes steals the show, like Steve Urkel.

    Then in 1993 there was “Down The Shore” on Fox about a group of yuppies who rented a beach house on the Jersey Shore. I remember the one episode where tubby Eddie Cheever (Tom McGowan) finally met his internet girlfriend (played by Kathy Ireland) face-to-face, but had lied about what he looked like. Possibly the first use of the Internet in a sitcom.

    Further back, possibly the first series to feature geeks in the starring roles: Square Pegs.

    Perfected in “Head of the Class” (ah, Simone…)

    And if you’re new to the subculture, here’s the hierarchy:

  3. Game shows and reality shows just continue everything that is wrong with modern television programming. Such shows are inevitably unimaginative and cheap to make. I know there has been some interest in doing an American remake of Spaced but when Fox TV considered it they didn’t consider it important to meet with Simon Pegg and the creators of Spaced to get their input. As it is Fox wanted to remake the show minus all the edgy humor in order to make it more family friendly even though The Big Bang Theory has been doing more sexual humor the longer it has been on.

  4. Why do they pick the absolute worst of us to celebrate?

    Can’t they have more Darlene Conners, minus the goth stuff?

  5. I’m kind of ashamed to admit I kinda liked Geek Love,” but I was a sucker for “Blind Date” back in college so I guess I’m kind of predisposed to this sort of thing. I didn’t think it was particularly exploitative, although I found it interesting how well they were able to play certain situations for maximum dramatic effect in the little “coming up after the commercial” snippets only to play things very straight during the actual show.

  6. If you go back far enough you have Radar on MASH, although the term wasn’t in popular usage then today he would be considered a geek.

  7. Sorry Dan, IT Crowd is now officially over.

    Secret Stash will suck as well, AMC’s track record post-Breaking Bad and Mad Men isn’t exactly strong.

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