Was King of the Nerds good for the nerds?
The first season of ‘King of the Nerds’, a reality competition just ended — but should nerds be happy with it or angry?
So the first season of King of the Nerds on TBS just ended. It was a reality competition show between “nerds” to determine who was the greatest nerd of all (from among the candidates accepted, that tend to be a bit more … photogenic for TV purposes). It was successful enough that there will a second season (accepting submissions, if you’re brave enough).
I was initially a bit wary of this show, due to problematic portrayals of nerds in other media (like The Big Bang Theory, which I got mad at earlier this year – although this show was created directly to capitalize on the ratings success of TBBT on TBS). Would this just be filled with attention seeking fakers and wannabes, with not a single contestant who knew the difference between Gregor and Sandor Clegane (they’re murderous brothers, and one is much worse than the other) or the primary weapon of Cloud Strife (it’s a really absurdly big sword)? Or would there be real nerds: people with unironic appreciation of something past the typical fan or a particular appreciation for a nerdy pursuit (like science, fantasy, or gaming).
As it turned out, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The contestants were actually all quite nerdy, with various levels of the social awkwardness expected for nerdy people. Were there some unusually attractive people? Sure. Were they all? Nope! There was actually a decent mix of appearances, although there weren’t any ugly people — but hey, it’s television, right? But these people were still clearly weird and into nerdy things — that’s good enough for me! The competition itself had both legitimately nerdy contests and silly reality show ones. For every trivia contest or debate about the morality of superheroes, there was a silly physical contest with nerdy “aspects.” While entertaining to watch, these were not useful in really gauging the nerdiness of anyone. Sometimes it was all about luck.
The contestants did not all have a chance to become interesting to the viewer, especially those first kicked out. There was also a bit of drama with backstabbing lies, and the typical sort of reality show nonsense — although there was definitely a level of non-faked anger and confusion by these contestants that fell into the roles they thought they had to fill and weren’t sure about their actions in the long run. When Joshua sent Danielle to the “Nerd-off” (the end of episode contest to determine who gets eliminated) after telling her he wasn’t voting for her, she was furious and saddened, and he thought he was just playing the game. This element of humanity, manufactured and edited though it was by the show, added something real to this show. These nerds may have often played to the cameras, but they weren’t actors. They were real. This seemed like a real set of actual, nerdy people. A plus.
SPOILER WARNING for those who haven’t seen the season — read no further! I’m about to get into a bit of an analysis of the finale.