Geek’ power: Harvard, MIT contestants discover loveliness of CW’s reality show
By Amy Amatangelo
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Nate was walking around Harvard University one day last spring in his typical attire - blue plaid pants, pink plaid shirt, a red and yellow striped tie and a trucker’s hat.
Casting directors for CW’s “Beauty and the Geek” knew they had found a new contestant.
The sweet reality show returns for a third season tonight at 8 on WLVI [website] (Ch. 56).Nate, 21, now a senior at Harvard and the lead singer of a “Star Wars” tribute band (myspace.com/solongprincess), is one of eight men on the series. The geeks are paired with beautiful women, and the couples live together and compete for the grand prize of $250,000. Unlike some reality shows, this one tends to bring out the best in people.
“Going into it, I thought I was going to learn from the experience, but I didn’t think it was going to affect me as much as it did,” Nate said during a recent telephone interview. “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s going to be silly. I’ll be a geek and maybe I’ll do silly things on camera.’ But once I got there, I realized, ‘Wait, these are real people that I’m forming real relationships with and they have real motivations for being here.’ Before the show, if you had asked me what I thought of reality television, I might have said something condescending, but once you’re part of the experience, it is very real. It was definitely a life-changing experience.”
Matt was a senior at MIT when he saw a flier advertising a casting call.
“I had just finished a whole bunch of job interviews, and I was sick of them and wanted to interview for something fun,” he said. But he couldn’t believe he actually got cast on the show. “It’s something that I’m not really used to, really making that much of an impression on somebody,” the 22-year-old said.
Participating in the show changed both men’s views on beauty.
“Heading into this show, I (would have said) the world would be a better place if there weren’t beauty pageants or fashion magazines,” Nate said. “But then being part of this experience, I realized that the people in the magazines actually have lives, too. They have stories and motivations and values and things that have brought them to that place, and that it’s important to do what they do. I still think the societal pressures are terrible, but it’s just that the picture is more complicated.”
Of the beauties on the show, Matt said, “I was expecting them to not be very bright, not be very articulate. And that was completely not the case. It wasn’t that they were not intelligent girls. I think that their priorities were different than the rest of us.”
The experience has prompted Nate to change the way he dresses. “It’s actually tempered me,” he said. “Since the show, I’ve kind of been focusing on being my own person in ways that matter more. I’m trying to dress in a way that if an old lady needed help crossing the street, she wouldn’t be afraid to ask me for help.”