Perpetuating Geek Stereotypes – TLC’s New Show, Geek Love

If we got angry about this kind of thing we'd be angry all the time
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Start your promotional video for a new documentary show about geeks with a grown man doing a Wookie impression and it’s safe to say you’ve already played your cards. TLC has ordered a new geek dating show called Geek Love that premieres next month and it’s safe to say, it isn’t doing anything to help break the stereotypes the general public have about geeks. 

Geek Love, produced by Authentic Entertainment, the lovely folks who subjected us to Toddlers & Tiaras, is planned as two, half-hour specials which if successful, could warrant an entire series. Take a couple minutes to watch the preview.

Did you have the same reaction I did? Did you find it uncomfortable to watch folks that look like people you know, who have a tough time in social situations, being put on parade? Because that’s how I felt. I’m a geek, this is how most people still view us, and it’s an incredibly wasted opportunity. Granted, this is just a two-minute preview, the rest of the show may show a wide range of geeks but I’m guessing they chose to focus on the ones people would gawk at rather than take actual interest in.

“Putting geeks and romance together has been tackled before,” writes Entertainment Weekly, “But unlike former CW series Beauty and the Geek, the new show pairs pop-culture loving socially awkward singles with each other via Ryan Giltch, founder of a service called Sci-Fi Speed Dating.”

Confession: I’ve attended one of Giltch’s speed dating events. It was actually my first speed dating experience so it was awkward to begin with. But you know what? I met a wide array of fellow geeks, some were easier to talk to than others and some fit that general geek stereotype but it was a great experience.

The tone and editing of this preview does not strike me as inspiring or completely truthful but demeaning. Why do they show the Wookie gentleman staring in uncomfortable silence for four seconds after hearing he has something in common with the woman sitting across from him? Why isn’t the moment where another woman pulls out her own Wookie impression played for more drama instead of skipping right over it? And hey, let’s get a guy talking about how much he loves Slave Leia! That’s sure to surprise audiences!

Don’t even get me started on the play made to associate geeks with serial killers. Just. Don’t.

Look, I understand how television works but I also know it doesn’t have to be made for the lowest common denominator. Awkward geeks are what people expect to see. Instead of making a spectacle out of them, how about changing the way people view geeks? Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps this is just a way to lure in viewers who want to laugh at and mock these people but TLC will pull out something unexpected instead. I doubt it but I feel like I need to put that out there.

Not all geeks are uncomfortable with the bar scene. Some of them find love online, some of them meet through friends. I applaud Giltch for what he’s put together with his speed dating events and I hope he keeps it up but I’m terribly disappointed TLC has chosen to perpetuate the tired geek stereotypes for the general public. I’ve been filmed as part of another geek documentary project and what the producers made clear was that it was a celebration of fandom and absolutely not being made with the intent to make fun of us or make us feel foolish. I can’t say that for Geek Love.

Not all geeks are created equal, TLC

(via Entertainment Weekly)

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."