Crossover November: Could elements of ‘King of the Nerds,’ ‘Beauty and the Geek’ work for a new show?
While this particular article is technically an edition of our Crossover November series that we’ve been doing all month, we’re admittedly taking a very different approach to the content of it. Every other show featured has still been on the air. Now, we’re talking about two in “Beauty and the Geek” and “King of the Nerds” that are not, and wondering if there is a way to combine elements of them to bring them back.
Obviously, we feel a great degree of synergy between the two. We were on “Beauty and the Geek” all the way back in 2008, and we also felt like the TBS show was the closest thing to its spiritual successor. The biggest difference is a simple but fundamental one: “King of the Nerds” spent more time celebrating its contestants, while at the same “Beauty and the Geek” as a whole tried to change them, at least from a physical and sometimes-emotional standpoint. We enjoyed the premise of “Nerds” better, but at the same time you can argue that “Beauty and the Geek” did do something better to keep itself on the air for a longer period of time. It resonated more with mainstream viewers.
We’re not going to spend our time here thinking of some sort of dream season where people from seasons past of the two shows come together, mostly because we find that rather self-congratulatory and nobody would be that interested in that now. Instead and as mentioned, our goal here is to list off some ways that if there was another geek / nerd-based reality show in the future, it could learn from the successes and failures of the past two.
1. It’s okay to put people out of their comfort zone sometimes – While “King of the Nerds” was a fun celebration of nerd culture, we could also see it as an inside joke if you are not of the same level of nerdiness as the cast. You wouldn’t get all the references! What “Beauty and the Geek” did effectively was throw its contestants into things that were outside of their comfort zone; there is something universal and fun that comes with seeing people learn how to communicate with the opposite sex, how to understand fashion, or how to understand social cues. These moments may be tough on contestants, but entertaining as viewers from a fish-out-of-water perspective. A new TV show should have more of that.
2. Humor in the editing – “King of the Nerds” was a far superior show in this department. It rarely ever felt like the contestants weren’t in on the joke, while at times “Beauty and the Geek” highlighted at times a lack of self-awareness and laughed at contestants rather than with them. We think we’re past the age of watching people be made to look stupid; having the contestants be self-aware about their lack of self-awareness, at least to us, is more compelling.
3. A consistent elimination pattern – Our idea would be to have contestants perform challenges that maybe combine elements of things they love (gaming, science) with things they don’t (fashion, relationships). Take, for example, design a robot, and then teach the robot how to love. (Okay, we’re slightly kidding there … but you get the gist.) Combining these elements would create silly fun that shows off the strengths and weaknesses of the contestants in one swoop.
Following the challenge, use a version of Nerd-Off elimination system of “King of the Nerds” where the contestants vote on two people for elimination. Then, they compete in a task. Personally we prefer the ones where the contestants compete in some sort of skill or strategy game that tests the themes of the episode. Avoid pure trivia (too much randomness), and give at the end of the season, combine many components in one epic task. “Beauty and the Geek” was terribly inconsistent with how it ended, which is why its players were never able to fully understand the game.
4. Show a growth narrative – Make it clear that the contestants are really leaving the show with some sort of accrued knowledge from when they arrived. They don’t need to have been told that what they are already doing is bad; instead, show maybe just how they are better or more well-rounded than they were. At this point, “making friends” is not enough of a compelling story arc in a competitive reality-competition field.
We’re not sure that such a show will ever exist again that gives nerds / geeks a chance to compete (the reality competition genre is dying as a whole), but we want to hear from you what sort of ideas you would want to implement!
If you do want to see some other editions in our Crossover November series right away, our advice to you is to head over to the link here right now! Also, sign up over here to score some other TV news on everything we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photos: TBS, The CW.)