It’s official. A love for technology, video games, science, comic books, and what you’d otherwise qualify as nerd or geekdom has gone mainstream. So mainstream that it landed on a 10 p.m. time slot on basic cable channel TBS right before “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Yes, “King of the Nerds” is a new reality competition that features 11 contestants fighting for $100,000 and nerd bragging rights. Is the latter actually something people aspire for? Eleven people apparently think so.
We open to an introduction by hosts Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong (Lewis and Booger of “Revenge of the Nerds”) about how nerd culture has exploded in the past few years, naming celebrities such as Michael Cera and Seth Rogen and (naturally) Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg as leading men in the space. The hosts and contestants gather in the courtyard of “Nerdvana,” the home and stage of the show where weekly Nerd War competitions will take place.
The contestants have pretty impressive credentials; they’re all either pro-gamers, scientists, mathematicians, developers, or comic lovers. Some of the personalities are stereotypically nerdy, such as Brandon who wears glasses, speaks in high pitches, and is easily excitable by anything Carradine and Armstrong says or brings out, or pink-haired Danielle who occasionally speaks Orcish. Others seem a bit more socially-apt. Celeste is a cute gamer girl while Moogega, the child prodigy, is a NASA engineer and Ph.D candidate at age 26. These two don’t try hard to visibly exert their geeky tendencies, but rather show it off by skill (Celeste can solve a Rubik’s Cube in minutes).
Not too much happens in the first episode as it’s more of a place for viewers to get to know each character. But, 40 minutes in, all contestants have done so far is pick shit. Randomized team leaders picked their teammates by pouring paint on each other’s heads (nerd on nerd hate crime?). Since there are uneven number of contestants, the last person picked got immunity and was forced to choose the team they think is stronger. Lastly, the contestants pick who they want to send from the decidedly weaker team to fight in the Nerd War. Blah.
Finally, at 10:45 we get to the actual competition of the show where Hendrik and Jon, both of whom the contestants deemed as the strongest competitors, battled it out in a game of chess. Surprisingly, these nerds aren’t very good at chess, or at least have forgotten how to play. When does the geekdom kick in? Hendrik chooses last-picked, immune Alana as his advisor for the game while Jon selects teammate Virgil without the intention of actually using him. Gratuitous sex appeal arrives on the show in a form of a “stripper Harajuku cat girl” who moves the giant-size chess pieces for them while a shirtless gladiator man destroys killed pieces with an axe. Sttrrraaannggee. At last, it was Hendrik who made an erroneous move, rendering Jon another week at Nerdvana.
“King of the Nerds” has the potential to be a pretty entertaining competition if it does not err too stereotypically nerdy so catch back with us next week to see if things get more exciting. Also, drinking game alert: A sip of your favorite alcoholic beverage every time someone says “nerd.” I swear to you, the show is so self aware that you’ll be hitting the floor in two minutes.