When I first saw ads for TBS’s new reality show King of the Nerds, my first thought was wondering if The Big Bang Theory was giving them high enough ratings to justify having another dork-themed show. Then I started fearing that the show would be akin to Beauty and the Geek, and that it would have some ridiculous message about how we’re all okay if we’re nice and pretty ON THE INSIDE.
Luckily, my fears didn’t come to pass. King of the Nerds is a legitimate (at least as legitimate as reality television gets) competition show that is both exciting and cringe-inducing.
Last night’s premier episode began with the introduction of “Nerdvana,” King of the Nerds answer to those creepy hot-tub-filled sex islands on shows like The Bachelor. Nerdvana is full of video games, electronics, a workshop, a game room, etc. And of course, the King of the Nerds Throne of Games (ha!). Throughout the show, as is the trope of reality television, we get cutaway interviews with the cast.
And, oh, the cast. They are basically archetypes of all the people I’ve met during my years at GenCon: gaming nerds, writing nerds, comic nerds, arrogant nerds, shy nerds, awkward nerds. The list goes on. Some of the interviews are really hard to watch since the interviewee is so shy and awkward. Some are cringe-inducing due to the alpha nerd arrogance going on. But, these are my kind of people, so I enjoy each one of them.
My favorite nerds are the ones who are constantly mocking the decisions of the others in the cutaway interviews. They try to justify it with their superior intellect and “calculations” but, really, it’s arrogance. And that’s okay. Nerds rule the world now. Welcome to the future.
I will say that I’m worried about the geeks on the show: the comic book and gaming experts. I’m worried that they will have little chance against the engineers, scientists, and hackers. We’ll see. I’m not sure exactly what the competitions are going to be like. Maybe the awkward girl who is there because “she loves Batman” will shine in a cosplay competition.
The actual competition begins by picking teams. There will be two teams of five contestants… but there are eleven contestants! The person who gets picked last will be thrown out of Nerdvana!!
Flashbacks to elementary school gym class, where I was routinely picked last for dodgeball. When one of the contestants muttered “dodgeball” after the announcement of picking teams, I really empathized with the guy. What a scary situation for dorks to be in.
The teams get picked and poor Alana, who likes Batman and corsets, is left all by herself. The loseriest loser. Her words, not mine.
Then a twist happens! The hosts, Robert Carradine (who looks like Orville Redenbacher) and Curtis Armstrong (who kind of sounds like Vincini from The Princess Bride), told the teams that there was nothing nerdier than being picked last. Alana was given total immunity from leaving Nerdvana for that episode, joined the blue team, and looked very relieved.
But SOMEONE has to be eliminated. Because Alana joined the blue team, someone from that team had to go.
Two uber-nerds were chosen to head-to-head in the Nerd Off; Jon, the mathematician, and Hendrick, the physicist. The elimination game?
But this wasn’t just any chess! This was amped-up-for-TV chess! Giant chess!
Jon and Hendrick were both allowed to have an advisor. Hendrick chose Alana since she was on the high school chess team. Jon chose Virgil, who is a neuroscientist and hacker.
A hot cosplayer in a harajuku girl outfit and a massive pink wig moved the giant chess pieces around the board as the nerds called out moves. When a piece was taken, a massive man dressed in body armor would hit the chess piece and red confetti would fly out everywhere in a shower of pinata gore.
I could watch chess like this all day.
In the end, Alana failed Hendrick, and he had to leave. I find myself not liking Alana very much… even though she seems like the type of person I would be friends with.
Final verdict: King of the Nerds isn’t as pandering as I expected it to be and was actually kind of fun to watch. I’ll definitely DVR next week’s episode and talk about it right here.
[All images from TBS]