Beauty and The Geek season three -- an early look
For those of you who missed the show's first two outings, the important thing to know is that Beauty and The Geek bills itself as a "social experiment" as much as it does a "reality show" or "competition." Granted, it looks like any other reality show - fancypants mansion, crappy production values and a hot tub in the back. Despite these trappings, the show is rarely mean-spirited and takes its "more to a book than its cover" message to heart. This season has a few interesting twists early-on to re-emphasize its self-knowledge over money-grubbing mission. I won't spoil them for you here, but they go a long way to endearing you to many of the contestants - particularly the geeks, who are especially self-reflective and humorous in their one-on-one interviews.
As in the past, this season's challenges aim to get the beauties and the brains out of their comfort zones - forefronting either intellect or sociability, respectively. The two-hour season premiere features an inspired pair of challenges. The geeks have to perform a stand-up routine at the now infamous Hollywood Laugh Factory (thanks, Michael Richards), and the beauties have to play newscaster as they interview Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner. Oh, it gets cringe-worthy, but all of them - the beauties and the geeks - are so game that you can't help but be sympathetic. As was the case last season, I feel like there's a geek and a beauty who have a bit more going on than the others. Obviously, the guy who fronts a band is going to have an extroversion advantage over his more socially-awkward kin, and the brunette beauty lives up to stereotype by having a little more gray matter than her blonde cohorts. But, hey, she's not qualifying for Mensa membership anytime soon, and he's not banging America's next top model so it's as even a competition as it's going to be.
I do have a feeling that one or two of these guys will clean up pretty well, which could lead to some interspecies humping as it did in Season Two. We'll just have to wait and see, and I, for one, am willing to wait. This show tends to get better as it progresses because there's something kinda beautiful about people who wouldn't otherwise meet getting to know one another. The show's best moments come not from the challenges, but from the less contrived interactions in the house and the post-show interviews. There's a hilarious sequence in the opening hour where one of the beauties asks a geek whether or not he wants to get some "booty" before or after he's married. You know, "pirate's treasure." (By my count, three of the geeks reveal that they're virgins in the first episode.) Much confusion and informal polling over the meaning of the word "booty" ensues before a whole world of hip-hop is opened up to one of our enthusiastic dorkbots. You can't write that kind of stuff. Nor can you write a very touching promo in which one of the geeks explains that, "You can take the geek out of the mansion, but you can't take the friends out of his heart." God, I'm such a sap.