In all reality, it's
'Beauty and the Geek'
Buzz is over WB's competition of unlikely pairs
By Abigail Azote
With the coming of summer comes another deluge
of reality TV shows, some 15 new series and such returning shows as
"Big Brother," leaving America very much at risk of reality burnout.
It's become almost impossible to handicap the performance of such shows the past
few years. Dumb ideas often catch, but the next year viewers pay
them little attention, as in the case of NBC’s “For Love or
But amid the soon-to-arrive muck of reality, the WB's
"Beauty and the Geek" could be the most promising. That's
certainly the early buzz. The show's also getting a huge bluster of
promotional noise from the WB, which ought to get at least initial
"Beauty and the Geek" pairs seven brilliant but
socially-inept guys with a like number of beautiful but dim-witted
girls to compete for $250,000 in a mix of brain-buster and social
skills tests. In episode one, airing tomorrow night at 8,
contestants face their first two challenges: a spelling bee for the
ladies and a dance contest for the guys.
If nothing else, the series, which is billed as the
ultimate social experiment, ought to deliver laughs. As with all
reality shows, it's about the characters, and here they look to be a
hoot. There's the geek who is too busy with the "Dukes of
Hazzard" fan club to meet women teamed up with a beauty who
says she's so smart that her IQ is 500.
The gimmick? In an experiment in stereotype busting, the
mismatched pairs help each other to win, the geeks pitching in as
the beauties tussle with the brain-busters and the beauties guiding
the geeks in the social skills exams.
Critics are surprisingly amused.
"The show is offensive on many levels, of course. The
clips looked lowbrow, crass and stereotypical. They were also
hilarious, good-natured and surprisingly sweet. I'm putting the show
on my TiVo list first chance I get," writes Time magazine's
This early buzz certainly has to please the WB. The
youth-skewing network traditionally has not done well with reality
series, with the forgettable "High School Reunion" and
"Superstar USA." It also doesn't do all that well
during summers anyhow, presumably because its target viewers are
spending that many more hours outside and active.
"Geek" is produced by Ashton Kutcher, the man
behind "Punk'd" and former star of "That '70s Show," as well as the
notoriously younger squeeze of Demi Moore.
Rising to the top of the reality pile this summer may not be
all that hard. The many mediocre network offerings include
"Tommy Lee Goes to College," "Dancing With the
Stars," "Scholar," "I Want to Be a Hilton" and
the disturbingly titled "Hit Me Baby," featuring musical
has-beens attempting a comeback.
Against such likely stinkers, "Geek"
should do well, perhaps attracting 3.5 million viewers to its
premiere. That would put it in the league of
"Summerland," last summer's hit on the WB.
May 31, 2005
Abigail Azote is a staff writer for