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Checking Out "Beauty & the Geek"

There are some guilty pleasures that are just that... truly sinful television encounters that you watch alone in the dark, with the curtains drawn, afraid to ever dare mention to anyone the following day that you tune in to this show, much less have a TiVo Season Pass.

And then there are guilty pleasures that you can't help but blab about endlessly to any and all who will hear, in the hopes that you can persuade them too to tune in and watch the show.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the CW's reality series/"social experiment" Beauty & the Geek, currently airing at 8 pm on Wednesdays. I'll admit that when the series first launched three seasons ago, I was a little wary and thought that Reality TV Svengali Ashton Kutcher would present a geek-spoitation and social punking that the world had never seen.

And, yet, after three seasons of challenges, unrequited crushes, and lame introductions from charisma-short host Mike Richards, I am still just as enamored of this show as when it first premiered. I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that unlike other reality shows, say Unan1mous or, I don't know, Flavor of Love, the contestants don't learn anything about themselves or change as a result of being on the series. As cheesy a sentiment as that may sound, it is true with Beauty & the Geek, which throws together eight beautiful but book-shy women with eight smart but socially-awkward men in a Los Angeles mansion, forces them to pair up, and compete for a cash prize.

It's a simple premise yet one that continues to mine that chasm between smarts and looks in our style-conscious 21st century America (it's only fitting that the series is filmed in the epicenter of the beauty biz, Hollywood). This season added a new temptation: teams were offering increasing amounts of money to immediately leave the house in lieu of staying to compete for the $250,000 grand prize. I'm happy to say that no one took the bait last week (though it seemed as though Andrea and Matt were mighty tempted by the dosh).

Once again this season, there isn't a character that can ever quite compete with Season One's Richard, a walking ball of neuroses who uttered the now famous geek catchphrase "Hello, ladies" with such gleeful aplomb. What we do have are some geeks that seem suspiciously... not geeky enough. As in the fact that I am thinking their geekiness has a bit to do with affectation rather than, er, reality. Take Scooter for example: He's a 23-year-old Harvard grad (with a degree in Social Anthropology) from Montana, currently employed as a receptionist, with a penchant for knee-socks, scruffy facial hair and bizarro outfits. (And no, before you ask, Scooter is not his real name.) He feels a little too much like a ringer to me and I've voted him Most Likely to Actually Hook Up with One of the Beauties Once the Cameras Are Off.

I'm also not quite convinced about Nate, a 21-year-old Harvard student who sings in a Star Wars tribute band and seemed, last week, to be quite confident, thank you very much, to nail the stand-up comedy routine he seemed to have invented a few hours before. To me, he's a quirky guy who is playing up his "geek" cred a little too much but he doesn't really seem that much in need of a lifestyle makeover. And isn't it a little coincidental that he's studying Social Anthropology at Harvard... just what "Scooter" got his degree in. Hmmm.

Last week saw the elimination of Sanjay and Tori and while I was sad to see Sanjay go (dude seemed to have potential), I was thrilled to see that back of Tori, especially as she couldn't seem all too bothered to actually TRY to compete or learn... or grow as a human being. After flubbing the library challenge (in which the beauties had to use the Dewey Decimal System to locate three books in a library), she didn't bother doing her homework (reading the book Freakonomics) and then flubbed the in-studio interview she had to do with the book's author. When Sanjay didn't tell her that she did okay ('cause, well, she didn't), she flew off the handle, saying that no one has ever spoken to her the way Sanjay did, etc. Unless we missed something in the editing, I'm not really sure where all of that came from, except from her own insecurities, which she was obviously not willing to work on or work with Sanjay to correct, even after he offered to help her study.

If I had to pick a favorite team thus far, I'd have to say that I really like Drew and Erin. He's a 21-year-old student and Trekker from Wisconsin whose interests include Star Trek (duh) and "celebrating his Polish heritage." (Hmmm, maybe eating some pierogies in his Enterprise uniform, perhaps?) She's a 25-year-old voice teacher/model from Chicago who graduated from Elmhurst College looking to open her own private voice studio. In the elimination chamber last week, they proved that they might just be the team to beat, as both breezed through their respective questions with ease.

But then again, the competition is just starting and, from the looks of the last week's previews, going to heat up in more ways than one. Walking away with that grand prize could happen to any of them at this point and I have a feeling there are a few more twists and turns awaiting these beauties and their geeks.

"Beauty and the Geek" airs Wednesday nights at 8 pm on the CW.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Armed & Famous (CBS); Friday Night Lights (NBC); Beauty & the Geek (CW); According to Jim/According to Jim (ABC); Bones (FOX); Wicked Wicked Games (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); Deal or No Deal (ABC); One Tree Hill (CW); The Knights of Prosperity/In Case of Emergency (ABC); Bones (FOX); Watch Over Me (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Medium (NBC); Primetime: Basic Instinct (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Beauty & the Geek.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for Beauty & the Geek. It might not be the most original or thought-provoking reality TV series on the air, but this "social experiment" from "Ashton Kutcher" always makes me chuckle. On tonight's episode, the geeks are instructed to sketch a portrait of a woman... who just so happens to be completed naked, while the beauties must act as tour guides at a museum. Whatever happens, should be hysterical.

8 pm: Armed & Famous.

Maybe hell is freezing over, but I am tempted check out this new reality show on CBS, in which D-list "celebrities" including Erik Estrada, La Toya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, and others undergo police training to become reserve officers (guns and all!) in Muncie, Indiana.

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

On tonight's episode, the chefs are split into two teams who must each get a restaurant up and running but (of course) end up fighting with one another while judge Gail Simmons chastises the chefs for their disastrous performance. I cannot bloody wait.


Anonymous said…
I totally agree with you about the "ringers." Every year there are a couple of geeks who seem a little like they are putting on an act.

I also agree about Tori. I was not a fan. Though, to be honest, I would have much rather seen that one girl go - the one seriously debating taking the money. The one who keeps reminding me of Lacey Chabert.

My favorite couple is the heavy guy, who overheard the women practically drawing straws to see who would be stuck with him, and the woman who "lost" - she seems really sweet, even if she is a total barbie. But I also like Trekker and Erin.
BooM said…
Is it just me, or do the geeks seem geekier than before? Does this prove your theory?

I love anyone who will dress up in his Star Trek uniform to face the elimination challenge! Just like I loved the woman who dressed up in her Star Trek uniform for jury duty, in Trekkies (which I think was what Erin was trying to reference when he told her that they're actually called "trekkers.")

I'm beginning to think that all I have to do to pretend to be smart is memorize pi over a hundred places. See? TV makes you smarter! Take that, ma!
Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for this post! I'm glad to see that not only am I not the only person who Loves Beauty and the Geek (although it is in it's 3rd season, so obviously a few more people were watching) But I'm also not the only self-respecting person tempted to watch Armed and Famous, which looks like a train wreck just waiting to happen.
I tuned into the show last season expecting to be horrified and was surprisingly drawn in. Now I'm a big fan!

I'm routing for Piao (Pi) and Sheree. I couldn't believe how well she did in the book interview.

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