PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Beauty and the Geek

If she lasts long enough to find her place between the geeks and beauties, Nicole will enjoy her very own "Why, Miss Jones, You Were Beautiful All Along" moment, and make more than one geek's day.

Beauty and the Geek

Airtime: Tuesdays, 8pm ET
Cast: Mike Richards
MPAA rating: N/A
Subtitle: Season Four First Three
Network: The CW
US release date: 2007-09-18

There's a lie at the heart of "reality" TV. It's the idea that everyone we're watching is an amateur, and that if only we'd applied, then you and I could be there with the best of them -- and Amber and Rob. The new season of Beauty and the Geek is a prime example.

Two seasons ago, I suggested that if the Punk'd team of Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldburg had any brains in their little penises (peni? penes?), then they'd reverse the genders, cast 10 hot nerdy girls and an equal number (that's 10, Mr. Kutcher) of self-absorbed, aspiring actor-type boys, and watch their ratings go through the roof. Well, K and G are starting to see things my way. This season's dramatic twist? The introduction, at the end of Episode One, of graduate student Nicole Morgan and "club promoter" Sam Horrigan.

The immediate reaction of the other teams was unanimous resentment that this odd couple should challenge the status quo, and a determination to nominate them for elimination. Stat. This was unduly hard on likable Nicole, who is not nearly as unkempt or socially inept as her male peers. And despite expressing worries about "being the ugliest girl in the room," she continues Hollywood's glossy fiction that "ugly" equals good-to-average looks "spoiled" by bad clothes, unblonde hair, and spectacles. If she lasts long enough to find her place between the geeks and beauties, it's odds on that Nicole will enjoy her very own "Why, Miss Jones, You Were Beautiful All Along" moment, and make more than one geek's day.

Sam, however, is no "club promoter." He's an actor with more than 25 convictions on his IMDB rap sheet, including continuing roles in Grace Under Pressure, 8 Simple Rules, and Grounded For Life. (You may also remember him from his performance as Brian "Pop" Popovich in Veronica Mars.) Taking smug satisfaction to exciting new extremes, Sam's a martyr to excessive grooming and, allegedly, 1000 crunches a day. He's also a playa's playa. After proclaiming he'd be "doing the girls a favor" by "hooking up with them because it will boost their confidence," he wasted no time macking on Episode Three's double challenge-winner Rebecca, in order, it appeared, to avoid being nominated for elimination.

While Sam got his education at the Sacto Ab-Lounger School of Beauty and Ego, Nicole completed degrees at Cal Tech and USC, and is now studying Musicology at Tufts. She must have ditched class the day they did rap, though, because her first challenge performance was decidedly underwhelming. Nicole's male geek peers include a software engineer who "lives with his parents," a LARPer (Live Action Role Player), a robotics engineer, and an astrophysicist. They were all inept MCs. Only the fiercely competitive Will (another software engineer, who doesn't live with his parents) and John (an analog circuit designer from MIT) showed anything approaching skillz and in the end, it was Will who took the gold.

In the first "beauty" challenge, Sam debated politics and current affairs with Hooters' girls, beauty queens, and wannabe-actresses. Although he started out nervously, Sam's experience in front of an audience and with learning at least a handful of lines led to his triumph over bartender and aspiring model Shalandra. When medical student Tony Tran and model Amanda Hanshaw were eliminated, it was a merciful release for him, television road-kill throughout, but a shame for her, plainly nicer and brighter than she appeared. Repeatedly described as an "aspiring Playboy model," she's a full-time model who's already appeared in Maxim, FHM, and yes, Playboy. She is still aspiring, however, to become a Playmate or centrefold.

Similarly, Hollie Winnard, eliminated at the end of Episode Three, was portrayed as a Professional Betty Boop. Another likeable and intelligent Beauty, Hollie hasn't given of her Betty in years, but she does still play a number of other characters at Universal Studios in Orlando, including Princess Fiona. She's appeared in a number of indie slasher flicks and has a new movie coming out later this year. I'd say she has much more going for her than just her Boop-Oop-A-Doop.

Why then, is the Olde Fyrme of Kutcher and Goldburg so keen to hide Amanda and Hollie's headlights under a bushel? It can't be a moral concern. This is a show that persuades a doctoral student to shake her booty on stage, gives its young cast a truckload of champagne, and encourages them to play truth or dare, make out with each other, and give each other lap dances. Presumably, then, the producers are attempting to protect their voyeuristic viewers from discovering that girls like Amanda, Hollie, and Sam are not amateurs.

Excitingly, you can still pick up, courtesy of CafePress, Hollie Winnard's 2005 Mouse Pleaser mouse mat. Says Hollie, "Your mouse, and not to mention your hand, will be happy to surf the web on top of me! Please be gentle." Says CafePress, "A great gift for geeks."


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Is Carl Nevill's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.