Thursday, October 11, 2007
Getting The Geek Right
I’ve been diligently watching the shows on my Show Killer Short List and have not been impressed. To give everything a fair shake, I’ve watched at least two episodes of each of them, but none of these are must see television. However, since I recently upgraded my cable box for a DVR version, I might as well leave them in the record queue an hope they get better.
The one show not on the list that has caught my attention is the new show following How I Met Your Mother (which is showing signs of incipient shark jumping). The Big Bang Theory has a really unpromising premise. Two uber-nerd roommates and their ultra-dork best friends have a superhottie move in next door. All the geeks get crushes on this girl that is so far out of their league that a tee ball player in the World Series has a better chance of scoring than they do.
The show works for two reasons. The first is that the writers get the geek right. When the nerds argue superhero powers, they know what they talk about. When the alpha nerd mumbles on about how string theory is unprovable he is right. Nerds and geeks have been sidekicks and comic relief forever. Usually they are played with a broadness and unsubtlety that makes Jerry Lewis look like Robert DeNiro. From the gadget mastermind of Simon and Simon to breakout dork Urkel, nerds have been laughed at rather than laughed with.
The only other show that even tried to show nerds in an accurate light was Freaks and Geeks, or as it’s known in my house, My High School Resume. Seriously, Judd Apatow owes me some coin. While Big Bang plays the nerds for laughs, they do it without malice.
The other part of the show that breaks the mold is that the blond neighbor is no bimbo. She isn’t the brightest bulb and has a crappy waitress job at Cheesecake Factory, but she isn’t a Chrissie Snow airhead or a Kelly Bundy slut. She seems to genuinely like the geeks and is only slightly oblivious to their pathetic romantic overtures. I just worry about the creators being able to pull off this one sided sexual tension for too long without things blowing up in their face. And of course, now that I’m watching it, it’s doomed to cancellation.
I could also sue this show for stealing a minor fraction of my life story. My first apartment in college was in a highrise on Peachtree called The Darlington. The average age of the tenants was between geriatric and dead. The building had a sign up front with a running display of the population of Atlanta. I used to joke that they had the sign so that rather than send out funeral notices when a resident died, they could just click down the count by one.
Anyways, the basement elevator lobby exited to the parking lot and I kept running into a very attractive blond and we would make small talk while waiting for the elevator. It turns out she was a dancer at one of the B-list strip bars in town. Her life had plenty of drama. Everytime we ran into each other she would update me on the situation. She broke up with her boyfriend, moved out, moved back in, made up with the boyfriend and so on.
She would invite me to come see her at the club and I kept politely making excuses. She seemed genuinely hurt I never came by. Her trying to drum up business may have been part of her friendliness, but she seemed preternaturally perky even when coming home from a double shift on the pole.
So here I was a nineteen-year-old geek regularly chit-chatting with an exotic dancer never realizing this would make a great premise for a sitcom. I only lived there three months and never saw my erstwhile elevator pal again. I harbored no delusions about my chances with her even if I had been available, but you can never have too many hot blonde friends. And it never hurts to be friendly to someone no matter how good looking they are.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: What TV show is based on your life?