You see, I went speed dating at comic con about 5 weeks back. It was a pleasant experience that I’m glad I had (and previously recounted). Amidst the preliminary nervous hand-wringing and subsequent butterflies, there was a camera crew maneuvering around, capturing the experiences of a few daters. When signing up, there was a waiver to sign for permission to be seen on camera for a documentary mini-series called ‘Geek Love’. Well golly, that sounds cute, but anyway, do I put my name on my nametag or just my issued dating number? The cameras were in no way inconspicuous or a surprise. In fact, the very first date (one of the subjects of the filming) who sat down in front of me was accompanied by two cameras and a boom mike. But when you take a surreal experience and add a healthy dose of bizzare circumstances, the resulting mess of weird is hard to dissect. Sure, there were cameras…I also entertained the possibility of dating a nice guy in a jack-in-the-box mask-head. Cameras, recording equipment, even the lurking but vaguely bored camera crew were grayed out as odd caveats in what was an unusual experience.
And besides, I bet this footage will never see the light of day, right?
…I’m sure it’ll just be some little internet project or something.
…………..If it even gets produced.
………………………..This will be the last I hear of it!
A mini-series for TLC? TLC?! Purveyors of exploitative reality programming that turns a spotlight on families with surprising numbers of offspring or some kind of rare medical condition? The network that has rewarded bad behavior with fame and a rabid fan base over and over again? I can’t pretend to be immune to the temptation of some shows that I can’t believe are real. My interest has been piqued in the past by that sneaky, guilty-pleasure-satisfying programming. But I am fearful of the exposure of a demographic so close to my heart.
Some see the show as a sign of triumph, giving attention to a culture that has traditionally been ignored. During the dating itself, the subjects participating genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. A number of them have commented on posts of the trailer, supporting it. I can attest to the fact that I had an enjoyable experience during the dating session. But there seems to be an undertone of ridicule in the trailer that is discomforting, reminiscent of inviting the least athletic kid in class to your dodgeball team just so you can observe firsthand how laughable his skills are. Thus, you leave the game feeling better about your own dodgeball prowess while this kid tries to rectify feelings of crushed pride and embarrassment. Sure, he was picked and even had a moment in the spotlight! But at who’s ultimate gain? Is TLC paying attention to a group that should have more respect and exposure – the geeks of the world? Or is it instead just bullying in a subversive way, building a framework for perpetuated stereotypes of awkwardness?
I hope this foreboding feeling is unfounded. It is my wish that after the premiere of this show, those featured will feel confident with their representation. This exposure could even connect them with their ‘perfect match’ – if speed dating didn’t already accomplish that. I will give ‘Geek Love’ a chance to prove itself. Watch and let me know what you think!