TLC Dating Show ‘Geek Love’ Review

Posted Monday, December 19th, 2011 12:00 pm GMT -4 by 0

I feel like I should write a disclaimer before I give you an essay to read:

I hate Reality TV.

I hate everything there is about it. I hate how little creativity there is because of Reality TV, where television shows like ‘Happy Town’ get cancelled before 3 episodes get aired because ‘Wipeout’ is favored. I don’t use the word hate unless I actually mean it, and in this case, I actually mean it.

These are purely my opinions. I’m not asking you to share my opinions, and this isn’t an attack on anyone. I was asked to watch Geek Love and review it after my previous essay about it, when it was just a commercial and nothing had aired otherwise yet.  I’m going to ask that you keep comments tasteful, and I will do the same in return.

With all of this being said, the following is my opinion of ‘Geek Love’:

I didn’t walk into it with any hopes…in fact, I was already hating it before watching it. I tried to keep an open mind, but in the end I felt what I thought I would, which is insulted. Dating is hard, whether you’re a Geek or a Jock or a Princess…dating is hard. Period. But I felt insulted, because I’m one of those geeks. Not one that is actually on the show, but I’m a 26 year old woman who is obsessive with her comic books, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’. I’m single, and have been for about 2 years.

One of the first things said in the show is how much being single sucks, and right there I disagree. I enjoy being single. We live in a society where we put so much emphasis on being in a relationship that it becomes obsessive, where everyone feels this need to be in a relationship or you’ll be lonely forever. I find this hard to believe. It’s exploitative of something that we’re genetically designed to have, which is safety in numbers. That traces back to being an ape. I despise that the show’s catchphrase is “Let your geek flag fly” because why should we be hiding it in the first place? I don’t. I proudly wear my geek shirts and glasses, I’m not afraid to carry around textbooks when I haven’t been in college for years, I just read them because I can. I listen to bad pop music, I study martial arts and I care too much about people. Be who you are. Don’t let society dictate who you should be.

I feel that this show, along with most reality TV shows, take the few extreme cases and exploits them. I felt bad for “Chewie” because he is that awkward nerd. He wants to find someone to love, and you know what that is great for him. I know, he has to sign the release that says that he can put himself on TV with his story and what happened during the event. But we come to the same basic issue that comes with any reality show; how much is real. How much of it was editing? How much of it made him look more awkward than what he actually is?

Maybe if the show felt sincere, or felt like it was real…maybe I would feel different about it. But those little pop ups about “nerd culture” and how we talk felt weird and insulting to me. It felt very much like we aren’t like normal people, in reality we are. There was over 100,000 people at New York Comic Con. Obviously, we are some sort of cultural norm. I feel like if the show actually wanted to get to know the “geeks” and wanted to understand the fandom, they would have. But it was basically just a lot of “I collect toys, so girls think I’m weird and they don’t date me.” They touched, barely, on the Star Wars fandom that a few of the daters they followed had. I felt that if they really wanted to get into it, they really should delve into what makes us so different from the “normal” people. Go into why we cosplay. Follow up on the stories and if their romance and fandom became something more. It just felt so plastic, so very “hey, look at these weirdos”, which just makes me sad for the nerd culture all around.

Ryan Glitch Sci Fi Speed DatingHere’s the thing though. I think Ryan Glitch has a great idea with Sci-Fi Speed Dating. I think that Speed Dating is a great concept actually, because whether we like it or not we are a society that is based on first impressions. I wish it wasn’t on TV. I think by putting it on TV we run the risk of the people wanting their 15 minutes, so now we are wondering if people are coming to our little conventions because they want to be famous or because they are actually genuinely like us and want to find other nerds out there.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails (yes, already) about how it was cute, or I’m just not geeky enough to understand, or I obviously don’t know what its like to be out there dating. I’m sure if you like reality TV, it was probably a nice break from TLC’s normal ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ and the like. I’m extremely geeky, which is where my rage comes from. Also, trust me when I say that I’ve had some of the worst dates yet. No one has topped my “bad first date” stories yet. I know the dating world. I know the nerd world. I don’t understand reality TV culture.

Will this turn into a series? Probably. There is nothing I can do about that, besides beg my bosses here to not make me watch it every week. If you are considering signing up for this show, which I already know people who are, realize that you’ll be exploited, you will be mocked more than likely…shows like The Soup and Saturday Night Live couldn’t survive without mocking what is on TV. I’ll be sad for you. I’m sad for the people that are on these shows, even if they do sign the paper that allows them to be on it. I hope you find love out there. I truly hope it is real, and not another 15 minutes of fame issue.

This is where I open things for discussion. Do you agree with me on Geek Love, or do you disagree? What do you think of Sci-Fi Speed Dating? What is your take on reality TV?

  • oldskooled

    wow, must be tough going through life with such a big chip on your shoulder. this show’s actually sweet and while yeah, they make fun of some nerd stuff, i liked all the people they picked and was genuinely happy for them when they found someone. i think your post says a lot more about you than it does this show.

  • http://twitter.com/RoundTableNerds Chris Ferrell

    As a nerd/geek/whatever the previews I had seen made me think the show would turn to mockery.  My fear is it would be ‘tune in this week to see the newest batch of freaks.’    To be fair I haven’t watched it yet.  I will admit to DVRing an episode last night which I will probably watch to form my own opinion.  I just don’t have high hopes for the show, especially after reading your opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/RoundTableNerds Chris Ferrell

    Alright, so I watched the first couple episodes and it wasn’t as offensive as I thought it would be.  However, they play up the whole nerd speak thing way too much in my mind.  Explaining things like John Connor as if they are nerdspeak is a bit excessive.  Terminator being a pop culture piece means most people will get a reference.

    Perhaps I’m reading into things a little too much but they like to showcase the socially awkward folks and showcase the bulk of the awkward things they do.  I felt particularly bad for the ‘Chewie’ guy as they more or less seemed to mock him without outright doing it.  Not sure if that’s the best way to describe it.

    I dunno, it seems to me that something that is a good idea is going to get exploited by this and the people that are genuinely doing it to make a connection with someone will just end up getting mocked.  Nerd culture is mocked enough as it is I hate to see it get worse.  I’m sure not all of the participants on this show are quite ready for the mocking that might come from ‘mainstream’ folks.  

    I dunno, that’s just my opinion.  Feel free to flame away, I’ll be right here lurking in the comments.

  • LadyAnon

    Jessica,

    You bring up some good points about reality TV in general.  I agree that it often lacks in creativity and can be exploitative to the subjects.  It tends towards the sensational and as such supports and even encourages unsafe and unhealthy behaviors in many cases.  Geek Love, however, is rather innocuous in comparison to a lot of the dross out there.  I accidentally happened upon this show last night and was rather endeared by the participants and sci-fi speed dating idea. I thought the show was for the most part, respectful of the individuals and encouraged the participants to “be who they are”.  That seemed to be the whole point; even self proclaimed geeks have the right and opportunity to find partnership and love with others who share a common lifestyle and interests, IF that’s what they want (so, take that, you boring “normal” people!).  I think it can be hard for those of us who are “different” to find social connections that validate our ways of being.  As such, it is good for us to occasionally hear that it’s okay to fly our “freak” flags and unabashedly be our wonderful selves.  I took “let your geek flag fly”, to be a positive affirmation.  Was the show perpetuating the common misconception that we can only be happy when partnered?  Yes, I would say that it did, and that is my primary criticism of the show.  Instead of showing a dejected and rather shy, “Chewie” after his not finding a “perfect match”, perhaps the producers and editors could have put a more positive spin on his singleton status.  Despite his hopeful comments that there are still more potential mates out there, a small celebration of the joys of being single could have been touched on.  That would have been nice.  On the other hand (and here I contradict myself a bit), this is a show about people who desire partnership, not one about people who are loving their chosen singleness.  Sometimes people ARE happier in romantic relationships and sometimes they are immeasurably more miserable.  It really depends on the unique dynamics of each person and their partner (or lack there of).  I’m fascinated by human relationships and the vast variety of human expression that finds it’s way into our world.  That’s why I gave an hour (or two?) of my life last night to voyeuristically and curiously study the antics of this small collection of “geeks” in pursuit of love.  So what if it doesn’t go deep enough?  Who cares if it plays on boring cliches and panders to sensation seekers?  For me, it’s an opportunity to talk/think about some interesting subjects regarding the human experience, and that is golden.  Thanks for sharing your opinion and keep up the good writing!

    - Lady Anon

  • michelle

    I am not a geek, but I am a misfit, and I liked the show. I appreciate what you are saying about how the show is mocking and exploiting “geek culture.” I agree. However, here is where I disagree. 1. I think the people on the show were so refreshing, honest, thoughtful, and appealing that they defied the stereotypes.    2. Dating shows mock everybody. It’s great  to see regular people – including geeks – instead of failed actors and models being represented as romantically viable. 3. It is particularly important that the show presents normal-looking women as desirable and appealing. The strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

  • Tracy

    I love the show! I hope it’s gets picked up as a series. It was a sweet, feel good show.

  • http://twitter.com/nozomi429 Nozomi

    Yeah, the “geek culture” pop-ups were patronizing and insulting. It wasn’t a simple informative definition, like it could have been. It felt like trivia. Trivia is made about movies and shows, not about real people.

  • gaineyb

    i loved the show when it came on. i really hope they put it on because it was a really good show to me. 

  • Shambambamina

    The thing that I found most annoying was that there is this general assumption going on that all nerds everywhere are all alone. Google search ‘Nerd Wedding,’ and you get about 30 pages of the most adorable weddings ever, with genuinely happy people being complete dorks.

    Yeah, some nerds are really socially awkward and kind of need a hand up, but trying to classify a nerd (geek, whatever) is like trying to catalogue variants of goldfish, or rare South American butterflies, or subgenres of Metal music. You can’t put us all in the same box.

    Not all of us are completely terrified to talk to other people in public, or get paralyzed with fear when we’re approached by members of the opposite sex. I mean damn, man. I used to hang out at a comic book shop in San Francisco where people would frequently go and have fancy cocktails and geek out about Batman for four + hours and then make out in the hallway. I’m a nerd, I’m engaged, and it’s not all that odd.

  • ultimatefighter

    I had recorded the show and just barely watched it a week ago and I enjoyed it tremendously. For Jessica (author of above review) and any fellow “geeks” that are insulted or critical, I feel you may be missing the bigger picture of exposure to the entire general public. Like any labeled group you get stereotypes, one of the most effective ways to break those barriers is to become educated and understand and I felt this show did. Sure, the show played on many stereotypes, but it also showed the humanistic qualities of these “geeks” and how they are just as real as you, me and anyone else. In the biggest picture it opens up “geeks” to a lot more people. For example, the show Hoarders or Intervention or even Pawn Stars give us the chance to see these “groups” of people and they’re real, they’re human, deserving of our love, attention, kindness, understannding, etc. All hoarders aren’t gross! All addicts aren’t low down people. All Pawn Stores are not scummy places trying to rip you off.