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One King to Bore Them All: King of the Nerds Falls Flat

In general, true nerds make for awful reality television. First of all, you aren’t going to get Jersey Shore-esque drunken one-liners out of a group of neuroscientists. Secondly, someone whose only interest is in an obscure, non-mainstream topic is going to get pretty dull over the course of a season if you, the viewer, aren’t into that topic. TBS’s King of the Nerds is trying break both of those rules by capitalizing on the rise of personality-driven reality contests (see The Bachelor) and nerd-flavored humor (see The Big Bang Theory). Is it successful? Well, that depends on how you like your reality TV — and how you like your nerds.

In the first episode, two contestants are declared captains and told they’ll need to pick teams. The group is then sent into “Nerdvana” (the group house) to get to know each other. There is the usual array of gamers, engineers and comic geeks, but everyone has either the gaming savvy or social savvy to maneuver into a good position from the get-go. There’s only one exception, an insecure woman named Alana who spends much of her screen time freaking out that she’s “outclassed” by the other nerds. She’s picked last, but then (!) the show’s hosts announce there’s “nothing nerdier” than being picked last, and that Alana will have the power to choose which team will go to the elimination round.

King of the Nerds bears some resemblance to The CW’s Beauty and the Geek, but this time there are no “beauties” in bikinis to take away from the wall-to-wall geek references, and the nerds seem a lot smarter than the guys on the other show. Certainly, their skills are put to better use: It’s nice to watch smart people compete at chess instead of desperately memorizing celebrity baby names. But as a reality contest, King of the Nerds falls flat. Hosts Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong have so little chemistry together that it’s almost painful to watch them. Even Alana’s “redemptive” moment felt weak. While she gained the power to send one team to the elimination round, she had no real reason to pick one team over another. The show has an actual RPG developer as a contestant; couldn’t they ask him for some advice on game design?

In Episode 2, the nerds are presented with a team cosplay challenge. It’s painfully obvious TBS hasn’t cleared the rights to any anime, movie or comic characters (even Alana’s tattoo is blurred out). The teams have to make up their own characters to play and come up with their own staged lines. This leads the contestants to engage in what I wouldn’t call cosplay so much as “bad acting.” Even guest judge George Takei looks lost.

The funny thing about nerds is that they’re usually nerdy about something – comics, board games, The Simpsons, horseback riding (I lived with a horse nerd for two years). Without the object of his or her affection, the nerd is … just another person on the street. That is, kind of boring. It’s as though you took Top Chef contestants and told them their challenge was to write about food instead of actually cooking it. I don’t care if gaming champ Celeste can make up a cosplay character — I want to see her do all the combos on SoulCalibur that my puny fingers can’t figure out.

Of course, those of us who call ourselves nerds might wonder if we should feel offended by a show that trades on the most shallow stereotypes about who we are. My answer? Nope, not one bit. Looking around at the current cable-television lineup, there are reality shows that exploit fat people, people from the South, addicts … it hardly seems worth it to get excited over a show that can’t even afford decent props (during last week’s Nerd-Off, the contestants rolled giant D20’s at department-store mannequins). Alas, I won’t be returning to Nerdvana any time soon.

King of the Nerds airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TBS.

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Comments

  • pen13

    Yeah, this show sucks

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    A lame-looking show that turns out to be lame. Imagine that…

  • Yanks5179

    Putting on a pair of glasses and wearing a video game shirt you bought at Hot Topic does not make someone a nerd anymore than standing in a garage makes someone a car…

  • Guest

    FUCK YOU GUYS! THIS SHOW IS SWEET AND HAS A LOT OF HEART! I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT I WOULD JOIN THE CAST IF THEY GET A SECOND SEASON!

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • Timfads

    This is easly 100 times better than Jersey Shore. Shore feature a bunch of failures that only managed to waste space in life. Most of these kids are going to actually make a real living and can actually think, something the Shore crew can’t do. Sorry if you rather see people who are train wrecks and idiots, instead of people who know what IQ means.

  • geek lover

    I like this show a lot. So does the rest of my family. We don’t watch a whole lot of tv. I guess Jersy Shore type shows and the other reality stuff is not worth any time. Those completely annoys me. Something that can get everyone away from computers, xboxes, and craft projects to come together for an hour is great by me. They don’t need flashy props and logos. They have captivating content.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sharon-Pro/100000687319157 Sharon Pro

    I enjoy the show. The contests are fun. The contestants are interesting. Just wish Brandon had lasted longer.

  • Faised

    This show is awesome. I normally detest reality shows but this one has people that are such familiar, modern nerd archetypes in situations that I feel ENVIOUS of. 

    That house? 
    The ‘nerd-offs’? 
    The ridiculous challenge awards like indoor skyfighting, sword training, etc? 
    The chance to win $100,000 for knowing about nerdy things like the golden age of comics, how to beat others in ‘intellectual games’ like chess or sudoku, the chance to meet random nerd icons if only for a moment? 
    Pssh. Sign me up!

  • Chefkimmy

    Nerds like the show. Maybe it’s not for everyone but I hate some show that idiot who can’t think for themselves like. Nerds Rule!

  • http://twitter.com/CandaceRevello Candace Revello

    This article is such an extreme amount of crap. I happen to LOVE this show, and understand it. However, I’m a model, I travel with bands on major tours AND can make just about anyone cry in any video game. I’m extremely well educated in academics, as well as “geek culture”. How could you insult the aesthetic of the show? I happen to think many of the contestants are beautiful individuals. I guess the only entertaining thing on T.V. now is beefy men who disrespect and degrade women? Or girls who are juggling high school and their teen pregnancy? Maybe young people who are dumber than a box of rocks, half dressed, getting belligerent? Stupid. Sorry America, not everyone hates a show that makes them laugh because they understand the wit of a joke. Man, it’s people like you that made me hate school so much. You people make nerds feel like we aren’t allowed to voice the things that we enjoy, because you can’t understand them. Pick up a damn book some time.

    Oh, and “Pen13″, I think you meant “Pen15″. Kudos for trying though.

  • Kingofkings400@gmail.com

    its a pretty awesome show

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rasslin-Good/100003988092781 Rasslin Good

    It’s a terrible show.

    Just because you have pink hair (like that annoying girl in the series), doesn’t make you opinion more relevant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rasslin-Good/100003988092781 Rasslin Good

    It’s just another “reality” show. As usual, without any real reality. Find some some dweeps, losers, people who excel in their field without social skills, and most importantly: a few “hot” girls who all the losers who watch it would love to “bang” (but never will). Predictably, the girls last the longest (eye candy to keep the boys interested in watching), and eventually win. It’s just laying on a bit too thick, like most “reality” shows.

    Oh, and the golden rule: If you call yourself a nerd, you are not a nerd.