At the guide, our staff is known for having strong opinions about pretty much everything. We’re taking stands on the pop culture issues that really matter, from tween stars to the movies that make us smile, from catchy pop songs to the stories that are dominating the Internet.
Being the sci-fi lovers and avid video-gamers that we are, we were surprised, excited and a little apprehensive when we heard about a new show on TBS called “King of the Nerds.” Having just joined the extremely popular pantheon of reality TV on Jan. 17, “King of the Nerds” pits 11 of the country’s most educated and comic-obsessed individuals against one another in challenges that test not only their IQ and pop culture knowledge, but also their skills and physical strength.
We have to tip our hats to TBS for introducing America to a different style of reality TV that focuses less on people caught up in the vicious world of beauty queens and divas (“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” anyone?) and more on those people whose intelligence and ability to speak the English language have not been corrupted by “The Bachelor.” “King of the Nerds” has the potential to give another group their 15 minutes (or five seasons, like Ashton Kutcher’s acclaimed “Beauty and the Geek”) of fame, while also — dare we say it — allow people to learn new things.
Each one of the contestants brings an element from the geek spectrum to the show. We think it’s really cool that there’s a planetary protection engineer from NASA who literally protects our planet from any potential alien invasions. Other participants include a professional hacker, a pro-gamer, a Ph.D. neuroscience student and live-action role-players. Also, mad props to the creators of the show for their witty and clever usage of puns — seriously, the “geeks” live in a mansion called “Nerdvana.” Every week, these professionals and fantasy superfans must complete a “nerd-off” in order to ensure their safety in the house. Unlike the already overdone physical challenges on “Survivor,” these competitions allow for not only the contestants to put their mental prowess to the test but also the show’s audience to explore and enjoy what has been commonly referred to as “nerd culture.” The first nerd-off was a human-sized chess game — if you did not realize this amazing nod to the first book of the Harry Potter series, for shame.
Although we love the idea that TBS has essentially created a reality TV version of “The Big Bang Theory,” we worry that after all of the cuts necessary for making an hour-long, humorous program, the contestants may be misrepresented or negatively portrayed. We bash our love-to-hate reality TV stars on a regular basis, but we hope that the new show doesn’t give nerd-dom a bad rap. Unfortunately, they have already started off on a bad foot. In explaining the team challenges — called “nerd wars” — to the contestants, the show’s hosts prefaced the group selection process by basically telling the participants, “You better hope that you aren’t the last person left because nothing’s nerdierthan not being picked.”
We realize that in high school, it may have been funny to ridicule these “geeky” or “dorky” figures, but we hope since these people are adults and the producers are regarded professionals, they will put these “nerds” in a new kind of spotlight where they can be respected for their knowledge, skills and interests. Here’s to looking forward to a show where the participants don’t just end up as memes and joke references that fade within a few weeks. At least, that’s what we hope a doctorate would get you nowadays.