The Nerd is the Word: Jury Is Still Out On TBS’ “King Of The Nerds”

Yes folks, it’s time for another issue of The Nerd is the Word: The Gathering. In this issue, our hero is building his mana pool so that he can play some bruiser creatures.

In the last two issues, I focused on technologies for the big screen; in this issue, I wanted to focus on something to do with the small screen. This past week marked the premier of a new competition reality show titled “King of the Nerds”. The show brings 11 men and women together to compete for the show’s title and his hosted by Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong who played Lewis and Booger in the “Revenge of the Nerds” films.

Since I started seeing commercials for this, I have been nothing but skeptical about it. It looked like a show to A) capitalize on the rising popularity of “being a nerd” (see issue 1) and B) to trot out a group of socially awkward nerds for the country to make fun of. The commercials focused on the awkward moments as the hosts (whose acting careers are near death) play on their classic nerd characters as an attempt to lend credibility to the show. I couldn’t help but think that this show could be the most detrimental thing to happen to nerd culture since the invention of the atomic wedgie.

However, regardless of my initial thoughts, I felt an obligation to watch, at least, the first episode. I was treated to perhaps the sweetest group of reality contestants I’ve ever witnessed (with one jerk thrown in for good measure). Though they appeared to be over-exaggerated versions of themselves, I felt a little better about the intent of the show. That is, I was until the first challenge was revealed.

Armstrong and Carradine gathered the nerds around and announced that the first challenge would be to pick teams. They drew the names of the team captains (Ivan, a Role-Playing Game Designer and Genevieve, a Fantasy Writer and Comic Book Fan) and gave the rest a few hours to make their case about why they should be in the game. The major issue that I had with this challenge was that they were picking two teams of five and there were 11 contestants. One person would not be picked for a team.

Anyone who grew up as a nerd knows that crippling fear of being lined up at recess to play kickball, hoping that today is the day that you get picked for a team. The entire field of contestants flashed back to their K-12 days, dreading that they would be the person not chosen. Even I had a brief moment of anxiety as I recalled similar experiences. However, it was following the end of picking, which left Comic Book Nerd Alana not chosen, that I felt some hope for the series. As tears began to fill Alana’s eyes, Curtis Armstrong gave a very heartfelt speech about the self-esteem blow that comes from not being picked. “There is nothing nerdier than not being picked,” he said. There was so much passion in his voice that it gave that show the credibility that I thought it was grasping at in the commercials. He then gave Alana individual immunity and the power to choose the winning team for the competition, adding her to the other team following the nerd-off elimination.

Even after that silver lining, I am still not convinced of the show’s sincerity. I want a show that portrays nerds as they truly are, not as Urkel clones to be laughed at, but as creators and fans to be celebrated. I want a show that nerdy kids can watch and feel proud of who they are, not feel the need to change and hide their true colors. Though I am not convinced, I have not given up on the show yet. The show is more sincere than I initially thought and has a line-up of guest judges that may continue to increase the show’s credibility (George Takei will be in the next episode while Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are set to judge another of the Nerd War competitions).  New episodes of “King of the Nerds” air every Thursday night at 10 p.m. on TBS.

Now is the time to move on to this week’s Pull List (for Jan. 23).

Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #20 (Marvel): We just witnessed a divided nation and a second American Civil War, now, we enter the reconstruction phase. Tony Stark revealed his Iron Patriot armor and is determined to get the country back on track. However, this is a comic book universe, so it is never truly safe. Someone is attacking America with S.H.I.E.L.D. technology, and President Cap needs to figure out who or risk losing his country.

Deadpool Killustrated #1 (Marvel): The Merc With a Mouth has a new limited series coming out. Written by Cullen Bunn, who wrote the previous ‘Pool limited series, “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe”, Deadpool will take on some of the characters of classic literature in this four issue series. The first issue will see Deadpool taking on Moby Dick, apparently with a very cartoonish bomb (as the cover implies). “YOU NEVER KNEW HOW BADLY YOU NEEDED THIS SERIES!” reads the series tagline, and I, for one, am seriously looking forward to reading each issue.

Once, Ian Hand built a set of web-shooters using nothing but a toothpick, some string, and a set of web-shooters. Watch him as he Spider-Mans across the country fighting indigestion. Follow his exploits on Twitter @IanHand253.

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