Of nerds and nymphs

So there was our man Richard, who's never ever kissed a girl, surrounded by a bevy of beauties.

geek (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
We pretty much hate reality TV. Maybe it's that no one ever asks us to spend an entire week in a fabulous guest house or tropical island with a bevy of beautiful women and all the big-screen TVs and Ring-Dings we could ever want. (Hey, are we giving away something here?) Yeah, that's definitely it. The real reason, though, is that most of them are pretty much the same: building up the Bad Boys and the Bitches to the all-important Elimination Phase, in the form of tribal councils, living-room showdowns, or what have you. But that was before Beauty and the Geek, the WB series debuting today at 17:45 on Xtra HOT. Because we have a new hero (drum roll, please) - it's... Richard Rubin! What, never heard of Richard? OK, think young Woody Allen. Think very young Woody Allen. That voice. The deadpan delivery. Richard's got it all, even, as he put it dryly at the beginning of this show matching seven totally nerdy guys with seven absolutely gorgeous but dumb as a doornail girls, "If there is one thing in this universe we can be sure of, it's that I will probably never get laid." We became fans of Richard as we found ourselves slowly charmed by this show which, as the announcer informed us as if we didn't know already, features two groups of people "from completely different worlds, and these worlds are about to collide." So there was our man Richard, who's never ever kissed a girl, surrounded by a bevy of beauties so thick they make Paris Hilton look like Einstein. After all, you have to take your hat off to participant Katlyn, who when faced with the question: "What state is east of West Virginia," answered: "Massachusetts." The basic premise had Richard and six other nerds - one is the chairman of the Duke of Hazards Fan Club, folks - invited to the by now cliche mansion, where each had to choose one of seven beautiful young women with the IQ of a bumper to participate in a series of challenges. Of course, for some of these women, chewing gum and applying make-up simultaneously is a challenge. Asked who was president during the Civil War, one of the ladies answered: Hoover. And one insisted that "1942 was when Columbus sailed the ocean blue." But that didn't put off our guys, who were up for the task of trying to make the girls a little less... oh, heck, STUPID and the girls trying to teach them some social skills, in the case of the premiere, some dance steps and some pop culture trivia. After all, as host Brian McFayden insisted, "this is not a dating show. This is a social experiment to see if these beautiful women can turn geeks into social super stars, or can this group of geeks turn these girls into more than a beautiful face." Asks McFayden: "Can people with nothing in common learn from each other?" Turns out, they can. But first they had to match up. So there was our man Richard, walking boldly into the room holding the lunkhead but lovely ladies, pulling apart the curtain and goofily declaring: "Helllllllooooo, ladies." "I was absolutely agog," admitted our hero later. Then it was time for bedding down, in Richard's case, with Mindi, whose job it was to teach dorky Richard to dance. "The physical interaction," mused Richard of the opportunity. "There could potentially be... sparks!" Richard's competition just can't hold a candle to his zany nerdiness. There's Chuck, a medical student who keeps getting nosebleeds when the going gets tough; Brad, enough of a hunk to earn a midnight visit from one of the other women; and Joe, who's never dated, among the others, while the women include an NBA cheerleader, a self-described "real-life Barbie," and a fashion model. Sure there are some drawbacks, mostly the need to fall back on tired, formulaic reality show stand-bys like the hot tub scene, where the girls comment on the fact that none of the guys wore a bathing suit lower than their bellybuttons. And the traditional format in which the winners of each round get to send someone home is also getting old. Still, Beauty and the Geeks is fun simply because they're such opposites: the guy who was always a wallflower getting to spend some time with the belle of the ball; the cheerleader finally getting to know the math team president. "What it comes down to is everyone is just a person," says one of the girls tearfully, and somehow it doesn't sound corny. For the rest of us, then, there's hope. After all, the producers are out there seeking participants for next season's show. And Richard rules.