Beauty and the Geek has long been branded as a heartwarming social experiment vowing to prove that opposites attract. There are 10 beauties (women who supposedly lack book smarts) and 10 geeks (men who are incredibly smart with fewer social skills) who are paired up to teach one another about their worlds and hopefully fall in love in the process.
It's lighthearted viewing that a reality TV enthusiast like myself easily eats up. But while it's entertaining to watch these strangers evolve throughout a series of challenges, dates and makeovers, it's hard to ignore that most of the personal growth is often seen amongst the geeks, not the beauties. The men are there to improve themselves, while the women only show up to prove themselves.
During Wednesday night's episode, all of the couples took turns as guest hosts on Today Extra. While both the beauties and the geeks were asked to read the news from an autocue, only the beauties were then asked to do the weather segments, where one woman called South Australian town Coober Pedy a state and then pointed to Queensland on a map when asked where Broome (a town in Western Australia) is.
The geeks sat back and watched, before one of them (Mike) was eventually treated to the first highly anticipated makeover of the season. It's just one example of the women being asked asked to prove their intelligence for our amusement, while the men are rewarded with a blow dry, shave, fake tan and new wardrobe in the name of self-improvement and a confidence boost.
Not only does it play into the stereotype that women are less intelligent than men, but also the concept that confidence comes from external factors. Having said that, as humans we love seeing a TV makeover and the show's strong ratings in its first week suggest there's more merit to the program than I perhaps was initially willing to give it.
Perhaps pairing people from completely different worlds is an opportunity for them to actually develop a sense of empathy and find common ground with someone they never would've spoken to otherwise. It might allow the beauties gain the trust of someone who's willing to believe in them for the first time. Perhaps the beauties, who so often compliment the geeks and lift them up will find their own personal cheerleaders too.
While I still maintain my view that the beauties give more than they receive, we're only one week into the BATG series, so I'll be tuning in for the next makeover episode in the hopes of being proven wrong.