Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's not a dating show; it's not a social experiment; and it's definitely not funny.

It’s not a dating show; it’s not a social experiment; and it’s definitely not funny.
When it first aired in 2005, Ashton Kutcher’s Beauty and the Geek was pitched as “The Ultimate Social Experiment”: a show whose premise was a group of “Beauties” (namely young, attractive women who relied primarily on their looks to get by in life) and a group of “Geeks” (think complete opposite of the “Beauties”) spending six weeks together, in hopes of not only tearing down stigmas but also burying their own previous insecurities. For the “Beauties” this meant learning to appreciate and interact with men who may be missing the sex appeal that naturally comes with a set of gorgeous washboard abs; or who may be missing the charm and seduction of a modern day Valentino; or who may be, frankly, missing it all. On the flipside, for the “Geeks” this meant making the epiphany that you can’t learn everything from a book, as well as overcoming their own deeply embedded insecurities about approaching women – especially hot women. And so a show with such blatantly progressive qualities as Beauty and the Geek begs the question: really Kutcher?

Do people really believe that producer Ashton Kutcher, a star who made his claim to fame by playing the idiot in That 70’s Show and who then went on to produce Punk’d (a show whose premise is simply let’s watch Ashton Kutcher be a jackass to other celebrities), cares about the transformation of these sixteen individuals?
I think not. Beauty and the Geek is a show designed for viewers to mock the clumsy, socially inept geeks and to laugh at the ridiculous goo goos and gah gahs that come out of the mouths of the beauties as they try and answer seemingly trivial questions – all while staring at their beautifully shaped and mounted yah yahs. As viewers, what defines this show and what we derive our entertainment from are not the profound realizations that are made by each person at some point in the show. No, the highlights of each season and the moments we most remember are those moments when a nerd humiliates himself by stripping off his shirt just to reveal his strikingly white set of ribs (or in some cases his strikingly lumpy set of flab), or those moments when a beauty misspells a word we “educated” layman all learned in elementary school, and feels awful about it. Ultimately, this show is about cheap laughs at the expense of others, and the same cheap laughs can only take a show so far.

Not surprisingly, the second and third seasons of the show did considerably worse than the first. But wait! In Season 4 the producers of Beauty and the Geek promised to deliver a shocking twist that will hopefully rile up the audience and at the same time revitalize the dropping ratings brought in by the previous two seasons. Kutcher was probably taking one huge dump when he came up with the ingenious idea of taking out one male geek and one female beauty and – yup, you guessed it – adding in one female geek and one male beauty. Three letters for you Kutcher: OMG.

And wait it gets better, in Season 5 Kutcher tossed that idea and replaced it with yet another brilliant twist to the now faltering show – let’s keep it at 8 female beauties and 8 male geeks, but this time, for just the first two episodes of the season instead of beauties and the geeks, let’s make it beauties versus the geeks! And yup, you probably guessed it again, Season 6 has been put on hold (possibly indefinitely) due to lack of interest. Nice job, Kutcher, looks like the only significant results from your nifty experiment are that you’re horny, you’re obnoxious, and you aren’t even funny. Awesome.

- Jason Wei

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