Review: Love & Engineering Is Not For The Ladies Or Anyone Who Isn’t A Misogynist
A documentary that tries to make RedPill/PUA dudes look endearing.
I am not a fan of The Big Bang Theory, though everyone tells me I should be; “It’s funny! You’ll love the nerdy guys!” Well, after checking out the show a few times, I came to the conclusion that most of the characters on the show are completely unlikeable, especially given the contempt with which they treat the “pretty girl.” The nerds on TBBT treat Penny as less than them, while still obviously laying all their childhood inferiority issues on her acceptance of them. Not that she’s an especially well-written character either, but making an audience feel indifferent or condescending towards your dream girl is problematic.
The people who see The Big Bang Theory as great television might like the documentary Love & Engineering. But don’t be fooled by the title or the promise of a couple of nerds trying to find love; this movie merely serves as a warning against the kind of nerdy guys women should avoid like the plague. Our subjects in Love & Engineering clearly have contempt for the opposite sex; and while is is an argument to be made that director Tonislav Hristov might be trying to present them as misunderstood or oblivious fools, the fact that Hristov never calls them out (nor does he ever show us the opinions of the opposite sex) makes me think he’s bought into their nerdy misogyny as something endearing.
Our subjects are led by a “love guru” (classic PUA speak) named Atanas Boev, who claims he has an algorithm for nerdy guys to find love. Why does Boev believe this so strongly? Because he’s found a wife willing to breed with him, and being a really big nerd himself, that is of course enough scientific evidence. If I sound like I’m being cruel towards his wife, trust me when I tell you I’m being less cruel than Boev, who refers to women as “things” on several different occasions over the course of the film. Boev literally explains his mission by telling these clueless guys, “You won’t get the Claudia Schiffer type, but you’ll get something that is good enough for a lifetime.” Such romance!
We never do learn what type of woman would marry and have kids with this idiot, because she’s only ever objectified as a goal. According to Boev, women need to be tricked into liking men (because they’ve obviously dumb enough to fall for this), and he can apparently hypnotize women into wanting to mate with him. Are any of the men in this film ever concerned with women’s brains, hearts, feelings, motives, or intentions? Surprise! Not a chance.
You may not be shocked to learn that this makes it impossible to like any of these guys as they try to find “love.” And despite what they clearly think of themselves, women’s revulsion towards them has way less to do with their awkward nerdiness, and way more to do with their obvious contempt and dismissal of the opposite sex. They want women because they can’t have them, but they really don’t like being around them. On dates, they’re most interested in clearing the next level (spoiler alert: most don’t) then cultivating any sort of actual, human connection.
Only one of the single men, who clearly has insecurities, elicits even a little sympathy – but you feel sorry for him more than you like him. The rest need to learn that women are actual people deserving of common decency, regardless of how smart they think women are – and they need to this before they try to get a date. Like, I don’t know, maybe talking with women openly, without taking direction through an earpiece connected to a man who refers to his wife as “property.” Maybe they should be listening to the female evolutionary biologists in the film who tell them that this isn’t a good idea, which is both the best and most frustrating part of the movie. The guys don’t want to listen to or believe her; after all, she’s one of the enemies they’re trying to conquer.
This movie is being released for Valentine’s Day for obvious reasons. After all, “love” is in the title, and nerds are a pretty big market. But if you sit down on the couch hoping to see a documentary about your kind finding love, or about how to find romance yourself, you’ll be out of luck. Love & Engineering will do nothing to motivate your own search for love, and will, at worst, make you suspicious of the opposite sex forever. I hear being nice to women works. Maybe they should try that.
Lesley Coffin is a New York transplant from the midwest. She is the New York-based writer/podcast editor for Filmoria and film contributor at The Interrobang. When not doing that, she’s writing books on classic Hollywood, including Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector and her new book Hitchcock’s Stars: Alfred Hitchcock and the Hollywood Studio System.