Fri
Jan 18 2013 10:00am

Open Mouth, Insert Foot: TBS’ King of the Nerds Surprisingly FTW!

Hendrik: “You and I, everyone else on this planet, has already won King of the Nerds.”

Here’s the thing about marketing: It can completely alienate an audience before a product has a chance to win them over, so bear with us as we say “OK. WE TAKE IT BACK.” Geeky reality show King of the Nerds is actually quite likeable. Spoilers for the first episode.

The overview:

We’ve finally learned what the contestants are competing for: $100,000. From the looks of the first episode’s roster and a few unexpected twists, we can safely say we’re in for some interesting—albeit sometimes tacky—television. There’s a refreshing honesty from the contestants which might be partly due to the fact that their identities are so non-mainstream that the producers may not be as tempted to stage scandalous content. Let’s just say after our rant about the trailer last week, we’re glad to be pleasantly surprised for once!

A few of our initial fears:

We’ll probably only see extremely exploited, overly edited versions of [the contestants]”:

Michele: I find them to be quite the opposite! One of my favorite elements of the show so far is that the contestants are given ample time to hang out/chill/get to know each other and socialize before challenges. This really gives them time to relate as human beings. Of course, as the “game” solidifies moving forward, the dynamic is likely to change. Still, this means we’re starting off on the right foot.

“What’s disturbing is how complicit these contestants are in the stereotyping”:

Natalie: Some of the contestants are power-tripping, others are hopelessly awkward. Upside: The producers aren’t exploiting them. Downside: They’re definitely playing along. But at least they’re having fun with it!

Knee-jerk reactions, GO:

Michele: “Nerdvana” is right. Can I just live in that house? Without competing? THEY HAVE AN ENTIRE ROBOT CONSTRUCTION STUDIO!

Natalie: I’m actually kinda impressed that they tapped into the psychological trauma of picking teams for the first challenge.

Michele: Oh my God... I can’t handle these show hosts. They’re so cheesy.

Natalie: Each team captain chooses his/her teammates by pouring a certain color paint on them. Can we agree that the producers got a sick delight out of torturing these poor geeks Carrie-style?

Michele: I find that I’m already way too invested in the nerds, and my only problems are with the occasionally hokey game mechanics. (Like the paint... COME ON. IT’S ALL UP IN THEIR HAIR!)

Natalie: My heart just went out to Alana, after everyone gets paint dumped on them except for her: “I’ve been losing all of my life... That’s why I’m a f—-ing nerd!” And then... shocker! “Honey, there is nothing nerdier than not getting picked,” Curtis tells her. And so... SHE WINS THIS ROUND! Take that, haters.

Michele: NATALIE. WHERE'S THE FAST-FORWARD BUTTON?
Natalie: I think we’re already caught up. 
Michele: Sorry... I just want to get back to the nerds... 

Because Alana “lost/won,” she got to award immunity to the team of her choice:

Michele: Alana chose Orange because Danielle immediately turned around and hugged her when she didn’t get picked. Compassion between geeks ftw.

Natalie: But it was also completely calculated—Danielle admits as much in the confessional.

Michele: I love that the team captained by Ivan the roleplaying game creator is the most well-rounded... when having a poorly rounded party in any RPG gets you killed. Coincidence? I'm also relieved that the “Nerd-Off” elimination is not some crazy MXC-variety challenge... It’s just chess—albeit with a twist. Dare I say this show might actually be more honest than most reality TV I’ve seen?

Natalie: 1. Michele, I love you for referencing MXC. 2. Sadly, I doubt the producers realized that they’re referencing Harry Potter with the life-size chess set. Also, you can bet the hot guy in the 300 getup is just gritting his teeth and thinking about his paycheck.

Michele: Or the cat girl eye candy. I counted 7 gratuitous panty shots.

Natalie: Look how smug Virgil looks about Jon winning! I was so sure they’d both get kicked off—I’m getting rusty! Instead, it’s poor sweet Hendrik—a fan favorite on Twitter during this episode—who has to go home. He left us with one last laugh:

Hendrik: “Do I get my head chopped open with a mace?”
Michele: (to the TV) “It’s an axe, actually...”
Natalie: (points at Michele) “NERD!”

Natalie: So, who are we rooting for this season?

  • Celeste is so sweet and adorable—sure, she’s a bitch in competition, but she admits that (unlike Genevieve who tries to trick people into liking her). Celeste seems genuinely excited to be on the show.
  • Ivan’s charisma makes him compelling and a natural leader.
  • But I cannot stand Brandon. He’s trying so hard to be savvy, but he’s just a screechy weirdo.

Michele: I want Brandon to die, which means he’s going to be on the show for f—-ing ever until he loses to Moogega... I mean to whoever wins... I’m not biased.

The moral of the story?

Michele: While rage-inducing, the advertising for King of the Nerds still got me to watch a show that I’m exactly the right demographic for.

Natalie: Lok'tar ogar!

Ivan: “Hey world, I’m a nerd. And that’s awesome. I’m awesome.”

Photos: TBS


Michele Reznik is a marauder and messer who solemnly swears she’s up to no good! Graphic/web designer, geek culture podcaster & co-host of AFK On Air, Public Relations/Event Production Associate (with Jeff Newelt AKA “JahFurry” for comics, film, tech, lit & music clients), Live Action Role Player, and hobbiest costumer. When she isn’t writing, designing, or LARPing, she’s usually catching up on comics and sci fi — one series at a time. You can find her @DarthReznik on Twitter.

Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and the co-creator of Leftovers, a webcomic about food trucks in the zombie apocalypse. Her writing has appeared on Ology and Crushable, where she discusses celebrity culture alongside internet memes (or vice versa). Weekly you can find her commenting on pop culture on KoPoint’s podcast AFK On Air, calling in to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat podcast, reviewing new releases at Movie Mezzanine, and on Twitter.

8 comments
Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
Oh really? Hey! I was saying I wanted this show to be good, but was sad that the verdict was that it wasn't...but now the verdict is that it is! I hope they are available On Demand, since I didn't DVR it.
Emily Asher-Perrin
2. EmilyAP
Wait, it's being hosted by Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong of Revenge of the Nerds? That's... almost too meta for my brain to register.
Michele Reznik
3. DarthReznik
@Mordicai: TBS should have the full episode available for viewing on their website. You should check it out and let us know your thoughts. I am eating my words so hard right now.
Natalie Zutter
4. nataliezutter
@Emily - I knooow. That part still makes me cringe, because they so clearly need the money.

@mordicai - The TBS site doesn't seem to have the episodes online, but I'm sure TBS will air them a million times before next Thursday.
DougL
5. DougL
Oh god, I am so shallow and immature, but whatever, Danielle better win because despite having about 100 times more votes than the next contestant on Maxim's gamer girl contest she didn't get the gig. I would never have bought the issue, but still, she was robbed.
j p
6. sps49
Clearly, the producers were referencing The Chessmen of Mars, not Harry Potter.

Either way, maybe I will watch this.
Michael Grosberg
7. Michael_GR
I only they could use "geek" instead of "nerd", but I guess Beauty and the Geek made it impossible.
David Lev
8. davidlev
I really liked the "twist" where the last person to get picked got immunity--I had noticed early on that they hadn't mentioned that the person who didn't get picked was immediately ejected, so I guessed something was up. I also thought it was an interesting twist that Alana had to then join the team she picked for the Nerd-Off--that's sure to cause some tension. On the other hand, I loved that several of the contestants seemed more than happy to associate with nerds who weren't on their teams--they just want to make friends.

While this show allowed for a wider variety of nerd-kind to be represented (including several nerds who weren't all that socially awkward at all), I did find it unfortunate that the show seemed to be really emphasizing Hendrik's social awkwardness rather than intelligence. While it was clear that Danielle at least viewed him as the most dangerous member of the other team (presumably for his intelligence and knowledge of the hard sciences), the show was trying to make him seem like he had some sort of personality disorder (although nominating yourself for the Nerd-off because you think it'll be fun is kinda out there).

Also love that the first challenge was chess, although the sexy catgirl and gladiator guy were kinda a bit much. I would have lost that competition if that was me.

All in all, interesting enough for me to continue, at least as a guilty pleasure. I'm rooting for Ivan or Genevieve at the moment, and really hoping that hacker guy gets kicked off soon, as he seems to be kinda an overconfident douchenozzle

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