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OK, I know you most of you probably don't watch reality TV shows at all, much less these third-generation spinoffs, but I thought a couple of Average Joe derivatives were actually kind of interesting.

Beauty and the Geek (the WB, Wednesdays 8 EST/7 CST) - "From the mind of Ashton Kutcher", this show appears on the surface to be a rehashing of ideas from Big Brother, Average Joe, and the like. There is more emphasis on cooperation, though, and ultimately there are some headdesking if predictable upsets. The premise is that seven "geeks" from all walks of life (from "VP of a Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club" to a med school intern studying neurology) are paired with seven "beauties" (from a "sorority girl" to a lingerie model). They are challenged, individually and as a team, to overcome their respective stereotypes, and the pair who does this best after six rounds of elimination wins $250000 USD. I've seen two episodes: in both, the incorrigible geek (Screech from Saved by the Bell meets an unrepentant Steve Urkel from Family Matters) went up for elimination with the college student. Let me tell you, when banazir is holding his head in his hands and saying "oh, man, don't do that", you're in trouble.

The stereotypes are a bit extreme, too. The highest math the women are challenged on is arithmetic, and as you realize, this has nothing to do with education; it even has little to enough to do with aptitude. The men are challenged on nothing more than fashion trivia and topics for which they are given ample review material. And that's part of what I like about this show: it's not so much about the presumption that geeks and beauties are antisocial or hypersocial, shallow or sad, but more about how our society resists change, individually or interdemographically. The resistance to change on the part of both males and females reminded me of my "rant against the know-nothings" a couple of weeks back.

Last week's episode was interesting. The women studied how to build model rockets and were scored on flight time and distance. The premise, of course, was "this is rocket science"; some of the women took the challenge semi-seriously but most came off looking a bit shallow, laughing the whole thing off. I wish they'd actually covered the challenge details more, bit even the announcers looked bored, and the cameras focused much more on the women's reactions and approaches to the problem. Meanwhile, the men studied women's fashion and prepared to go shopping for evening wear, casual wear, and swimsuits for their partners. Naturally, stress abounded on their side too. As gondhir (and the ubergeek) noted, "Size 0 should mean you don't exist!" Massages were needed and given, and your usual "hidden" camera recorded the obligatory blooming-romance vignette. I actually sympathized with the neurologist until I realized later that he's a bit of a sleazebag. Some of the women looked pitiable, some quite good, but seeing as a couple are professional models, they were able to not fall flat. Rocketry isn't as kind as a thong.

This week's episode featured women returning the favor: shopping for their men and giving them makeovers (which mostly involved restyling of their three-alarm hair). Let me tell you, when banazir is impressed with the improvement in your hair... you really needed a makeover! Oh, and apparently the challege was won by the woman who came closest to $1000 without going over, tallying up the sales total and 8.25% sales tax in her head. (Non-Americans reading this may be rolling their eyes. Hah! VAT, my patootie.) Then the men were tasked with getting women's numbers. Apparently, unrepentance in geekitude is the cardinal sin, at least on dinner dates and TV reality shows. The final counts were 13, 10, 6, and 6, after about an hour (or so it seemed; I didn't catch how long the challenge took). Sleazy med student decided that his "persona" was gay and got the most home phone numbers. I personally think they should have had to dial those numbers to see whether they were real. It's easy enough to give a fake number to some shouting dork on the street, don't you think? The incorrigible geek has been going through the whole show in exuberant style, but even I (Urkel fan that I am) thought his posturing is getting painful. I did revel in his sticking it to medical nerf herder at the end, though.

The elimination rounds were the highlight, and featured six random questions nominally pertaining to the challenges or something that the contestants studied for. Incorrigible geek Richard was saved by his deceptively intelligent college-student partner Mindy, both times: she was 6 for 6 in both elimination rounds. Richard managed to bungle the DK in DKNY ("Darren Klein?"), and this week we were treated to the spectable of 3 * 13 = 64 and 59 + 45 = 144. I pity the foo' who's ready for tenure. I pity the foo'!

The show's producers have now started a counter: "Richard - Has never kissed a girlkissed onetwo girl(s)". He's making a kiss on the lips of the losing woman his trademark farewell!

In a cynical sense, Beauty and the Geek is more about our shaking our heads at subcultures than at single members thereof. OTOH, it's hard not to throw things at the screen when the tronkie wannabe is cheering "Yes!" in the waiting room because his partner successfully deduced that five dozen equals 60.

The Scholar - This one is a clear knockoff of The Apprentice, whose premise seems clever at first blush: "Ten high school seniors; one full-ride scholarship". However, the producers decided to go the Big Brother route, and put them all in what is ostensibly a fraternity or sorority house (or something more comfortable and distracting than your usual dorms or apartments, anyhow).

I watched for about five minutes, waiting for them to get down to the business of the episode, but the quiz questions were all of the variety: "who in the house would you hook up with?" and "name the hottest body part of everyone here". I decided that the show wasn't really The Scholar but was more along the lines of College-Bound Playa and Skank Training School. Ah, well.

Anyhow... back to the grindstone.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
But what about The Scholar?
Jun. 23rd, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC)
Sorry, premature post
Got sidetracked fixing a web site.
My not-quite review is up now.

"Everything a CTY summer site strives not to be" is how I'd describe it. These are purportedly Ivy League-bound kids. I didn't see enough of them to judge, but the show's producers seem to think that our president is typical Yale material.

Jun. 23rd, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
It sounds like one of my bad nightmares, except I don't have nightmares that bad.
Jun. 24th, 2005 01:20 am (UTC)
A dream to some... a NIGHTMARE to others!

How have you been, Andrew? It's been a while since we've had a good talk.

Jun. 23rd, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
OMG. I knew we shouldn't have channel-surfed past that show!

And please do tell about the Scholar, Jedi Master.

Jun. 24th, 2005 01:23 am (UTC)
There are still two more episodes left, unless the last ep is a 2-in-1. I doubt it, though. It seems to me that a season should contain at least 6 episodes, and there have only been 4 so far.

I only saw a few minutes of The Scholar, and have edited my comments in above.

Jun. 23rd, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
I kinda like Dancing With the Stars, mostly because it has no direct competition between the people; you dance, you know you look like an idiot, but you do your best and hope. No alliances, no bug eating, no "one of these people is a worthless goofus in the real world."

Well, that and I like ballroom dancing, even when done karaoke-style.
Jun. 23rd, 2005 04:12 pm (UTC)
I caught the end of one of the Beauty and the Geek episodes, it looks like one of the more intriguing reality shows.

Glad to know I'm not missing much with not watching The Scholar, though :P
Jun. 24th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC)
Beauty and the Geek
Glad to know I'm not missing much with not watching The Scholar, though :P
Well, I only saw a few minutes of it, but as nearly as I can tell, you aren't.

As I elaborated upon above, reality TV (especially intriguing series such as BatG) says more about society than about the individual. I'm more interested in introspective anyway. :-)

That said: are you going to vote on my app? :-D

Jun. 23rd, 2005 11:09 pm (UTC)
Ok ok...
I admit it. Along with the rest of the House of KDD, we have watched the last season of The Apprentice. zengeneral watched for the "Trump makes people cry" factor, J. watched it for the business tips, and yours truly watched for the sheer joy of laughing at the fact that reality television isn't reality at all but 80% of America can't be wrong, can they?

The only other reality TV show that has been viewed is a single season of Survivor. I swear, I only watched it for Rupert and the fact that he made pirate noises. YAR MATEY! After he got booted I stopped watching...kinda sad that a pirate wanna-be is the only interesting thing I've found on TV that wasn't on Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, or the Discovery Channel in 20 years.

This brings me to my point. banazir, all your South Park icons are belong to us. Seriously, where did you get to make that one :)?

Jun. 24th, 2005 01:37 am (UTC)
To the Planet Arium!
zengeneral will watch anything that traffics heavily in human misery, J. should be watching things for the business advice, and you, my friend, need to hurry up with the brass pole knocker.

Did I tell you I invented The Apprentice?

Well, not really. I independently came up with the idea of a corporate recruitment/elimination-based reality show during the original Temptation Island season (which IIRC coincided with the second season of Survivor). I even mentioned it to Bill Shea, calling it Temptation Redmond.

Which season of Survivor did you see?
And... blasphemy! I don't know if you like Angel and Buffy and Firefly, but... Highlander: The Series? Stargate? Star Trek: The Next Generation?!

But Nick at Night, 2025: she will not be pretty, no.

As for the South Park icons: ah hate yew gahs... so much.

Respect mah authoritah,
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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