My anti-television zealotry is a matter of public record. I avoid the idiot box as much as possible. It will probably come as some surprise then to learn that I’ve found myself addicted to Beauty and the Geek, a “reality” show offering from the Warner Brothers network.
From time-to-time I find myself bored and listless. Every few months this leads to an hour or two of television flipping (a privilege for which I pay hundreds of dollars a year). That’s right: only about four or five times a year will I sit down at the television and flip through to see what’s on. This urge struck me on a Thursday night a few weeks ago, and I stumbled across the first episode of Beauty and the Geek. I’ve been watching ever since.
The premise is simple: eight Beauties and eight Geeks are brought together in a luxury mansion. The Geeks introduce themselves one-by-one to the Beauties. After each introduction, a Beauty picks a Geek as a partner, and the two spend some indeterminate amount of time (weeks? days? months?) living in the same room, teaching each other about their worlds. The Geeks teach the Beauties about computers, about history, about politics. The Beauties teach the Geeks about fashion, about dating, about confidence.
It’s all very cheesy, and all so heavily edited that it’s impossible to know what’s really going on. As viewers, we can only base our reactions on the fractional footage the producers choose to show us. (And can I mention that I am not the J.D. Roth listed as one of the show’s producers. I’m sure that’s Mr. “Fun House”, Mr. “Johnny Quest”, my Hollywood counterpart, with whom I’m still dying to make contact. It would be hilarious.)
At first, Kris mocked the show even more than I did, but then something curious happened. I was watching an episode I’d had to download (because I’d forgotten it was on), and Kris stood behind me at the computer desk for twenty minutes, watching and commenting. Funny how that happened.
One of our favorite aspects of the show is how whenever a contestant’s name is flashed on-screen, it is accompanied by an identifying tag. (And always the same identifying tag.) For example, whenever Sarah’s name appears on-screen she is identified as a DENTAL HYGENIST. Wes has our favorite tag: TRACKS MONKEYS WITH LASERS.
The Beauties include:
- Amanda (HAIRSTYLIST) — my favorite Beauty, easily the most attractive of the bunch. (Plus she was moderately intelligent.) Unfortunately, she was the first eliminated.
- Brittany (COLLEGE STUDENT) — sweet and kind and all that, but man the show paints her as a dim bulb. (“There are types of screwdrivers?” “I like the parts of the books that have pictures.”)
- Cher (BEER SPOKESMODEL) — actually rather intelligent, if a little bossy. Of the two intelligence tests for the women so far, she’s won both.
- Danielle (COCKTAIL WAITRESS)
- Jennipher (CAMP COUNSELOR) — looks like the most fun of all the women.
- Sarah (DENTAL HYGENIST) — sort of a non-entity except that the show constantly shows her “nipping out” footage from the karaoke contest. (Which is fine by me.)
- Thais (MODEL) — eliminated.
- Tristin (COCKTAIL WAITRESS) — attractive enough, and not as dumb as her partner (Chris) makes her out to be, but lordy how she weeps. The tears never stop. Eliminated.
The Geeks include:
- Brandon (ASSISTANT NEUROBIOLOGIST) — a complete cipher aside from his lousy fashion sense. Eliminated before any personality could show through.
- Joe (SPEED CHESS CHAMPION)
- Josh (MUSEUM CRITIC) — a thin matchstick of a man, Josh is a neurotic mess, like a hyper-attenuated Woody Allen.
- Karl (DUNGEON MASTER) — a nice enough guy, but very geeky.
- Ankur (M.I.T. GRADUATE)
- Wes (TRACKS MONKEYS WITH LASERS) — what does that mean, exactly, “tracks monkeys with lasers”? We don’t know, but we shout it every time it flashes on-screen. Even I have to admit that Wes’ makeover was shockingly successful.
- Tyson (RUBIK’S CUBE RECORD HOLDER) — a nice guy, and Kris’ favorite. He brought multiple Rubik’s Cubes to the show, and somehow managed to integrate them into a lot of scenes. Eliminated.
- Chris (HAS ONLY KISSED ONE GIRL) — brainy and brash, but also a bully. His machinations from the get-go cause the rest of the house to gang up on him (and his unfortunate partner, Tristin) until he was finally eliminated.
Every week, the couples are presented with a challenge. In the first challenge, the Geeks had to perform karaoke (to Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”) while the Beauties had to give an impromptu speech on political affairs (social security, pollution, etc.). In the second challenge, the Beauties had to set up a computer, download a song, and burn it to a CD, while the Geeks had to decorate a bedroom. The most recent challenge was team-based: each Beauty gave her Geek a makeover and prepared him for a round of speed dating.
At the end of each episode, the challenge winners pick two couples to head to the Elimination Room where they are asked questions. The losing couple is kicked off the show. (Kris is certain that the Elimination Room is rigged.)
Dumb, yes, but entertaining. I’m going to grant myself this vice. There’s only a few weeks left of it, anyhow.
“I wonder what my geek quality would be,” I said as we got in bed last night. I was thinking something along the lines of WEBLOGGING FOR FIVE YEARS.
“That’s easy,” mumbled Kris. “LACKS SELF-DISCIPLINE.”
I took the “How Geeky Are You?” quiz on the show’s official web site. I scored a “You’re Very Geeky”, of course.
Sabino and I had a brief discussion about downloading television shows yesterday. We were singing our regular chorus of praise for Seinfeld (he owns all the DVDs; I want to borrow them). He told me how much he loves The Office: “They don’t even have to say anything and I’m laughing.” Sabino is excited by his new DVR. “We can pause a show to put the kids to bed and come back to finish it later!” I told him that I have the same thing, essentially, because I download the shows off the internet. “But isn’t that illegal?” he asked. I tried to convince him it was something of a legal grey area, but he didn’t seem to buy it.
Look at it this way: I would not be watching Beauty and the Geek right now if I hadn’t been able to download the two episodes I missed. I wouldn’t watch The Office or Battlestar Galactica unless I could download the episodes I missed. (In fact, I haven’t watched any of the second season of Battlestar, but I plan to catch up in a single marathon session soon.) But because I can download these missed episodes, I continue to watch. And when I watch I write up long weblog entries like this, entries that are essentially free advertisements. For this a television network is going to sue me? If they do, they’re insane.