June 02, 2005

TV: Beauty and the Geek

The premise wasn't all that promising -- a competition between teams of lovely women and nerdy men -- but this turned out to be a very sweet and good-natured hour, and I'm looking forward to future episodes.

It's not a dating show, we're told, but a "social experiment," and the contestants are told that their goal is to help their partner improve in their areas of weakness. Each week, the teams will be given a pair of challenges, one for the men and one for the women, which they'll help each other prepare for.

Week one gave us a fifth-grade spelling and history quiz for the ladies and a dance competition for the gents. The only time the show came close to inviting us to laugh at the contestants was during the quiz, where some of the women truly were spectacularly dumb, as in this round of questioning:

"Who was president during the Civil War?"

"Um ... Hoover?"

"No, it was Abraham Lincoln."

"Oh, right! D-Day!"

But aside from a few moments like that, Beauty and the Geek doesn't mock its contestants, who all seem to be sincere in their desire to help their partners and to learn from them. In part, this is a result of good casting; it's easy to imagine the show going terribly wrong with a more shallow, bimbo-y group of woman and an even more socially inept group of men. As it is, though, this is a very pleasant surprise.

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