Taking it far but not quite to the finals were Jennylee Berns and Niels Hoven, the latest couple to be eliminated from CW’s “Beauty and the Geek.” Even though Jennylee and Niels were a bickering couple at times, they showed an ability to pull together for the sake of competition when needed. It was the show’s social relationships that proved difficult for the pair, especially when Jennylee found herself falling for a “geek” who did not happen to be her own partner. Despite the emotional fight we saw on the show, JennyLee and Niels remain on friendly terms. Heck, they even sat together in the same room for this interview!
Good morning! I hear I have both of you today.
So can you tell me how you got mixed up in this TV-show-slash-social-experiment?
Niels: Uh – (laughs)
Jennylee: I don’t know, that’s a good question, what did I get myself into! (laughing with Niels) I got a call to do an audition, and I actually couldn’t make it. I was like, “Nope, sorry.” I had heard of Beauty and the Geek, but I had never seen it. I didn’t know much about it, and I couldn’t make it to that one. So they called me back to do a second audition, and I made that one and ended up moving on. I went through casting, which was a crazy process. We made it!
So this was an audition with your modeling agency?
Jennylee: Actually, somebody had referred me to the casting department, and I still don’t know who that was.
Jennylee: Someone is out there going, (hipster voice) “Yeah, I referred her.”
Going to have to track that person down, then.
Jennylee: Yes, and thank them.
What about you Niels, had you seen the show?
Niels: Yeah, actually the very first time I saw the show, I was in Vegas with a friend for the World Series of Poker, and we had gone out a little too hard the night before, and ended up in a hotel room unable to get out of bed; and we were like, “Well, let’s just see what’s on TV” and ended up sitting through the entire “Beauty and the Geek” marathon. I remember talking that day, and we said, “One of us should totally try to get on that show.”
But it didn’t happen for me for a couple of years later. I was already interested in self-improvement. I’m friends with Ankur [Mehta] from season two in my department at Berkeley. He’s a good friend of mine. I was at a party at his house, and I met some members of the casting team. I told them how I was interested in self-improvement, and how I was interested in becoming more comfortable in social situations, and things like that. They thought that was really cool, and invited me out for an interview, and we just hit it off.
For Jennylee: you told Nate that he’s not a geek, but do you see Niels as a geek?
Jennylee: (making a tentative noise)
I know he’s sitting right next to you.
Niels: No, that’s fair. I kind of prefer “dork”, but “geek” I can live with.
Jennylee: Niels is a – I mean, it depends on your definition of geek, but he’s a little more geekier than some of the other guys. Not a total geek, though. He dresses nice, he looks nice, but you get talking to him, and you’re like, “Oh yeah.”
Niels: I can bust out my geek credentials.
Niels: I have them so high no one can see over them.
What’s your favorite operating system? That’s the usual geek verification question.
Niels: What’s my favorite operating system? I’m not a Linux geek, although I am thinking of switching. I just got a new computer; I might go over to the Linux side. Then there’s going to be no hope for me. I’m going to have to go hang out with Sanjay.
Is the term “geek” just an insult, or does it have any positive meaning for you now?
Jennylee: I think it’s a silly term. It shouldn’t hold any negative meaning like “dork” or “nerd”. It’s just a joke, really.
Niels: I always thought the problem with “geek” is that it gives the impression of such a one-dimensional personality. That’s why I always tell people that I’d rather be a “dork.” You still have all that air of social awkwardness, but at least you know they have a sense of humor if they’re a dork.
For Niels: What is your opinion of girls with the sort of outward appearance that Cecille has? I mean, someone who’s a bottle blond, wearing a lot of makeup…you know what I mean, right?
Niels: I think what I’ve really learned from the show is how much – well, first impressions are so, so important because they really color what people think about you. There’s so much more to a person after that, so many things that are more important than looks. And I realize that even these beautiful girls that I hang out with, they have all the same insecurities and emotional difficulties and concerns that everybody else does.
Would you approach someone like that now?
Niels: Absolutely. You have good experiences and you have bad experiences. You meet people and they turn out to be people that you really don’t want in your life long term, but other times you just hit the jackpot, and you meet amazing people. The only way to do that is to put yourself out there and talk to as many new people as you can.
For Jennylee: as far as your purpose for participating on this show – did you go on the show to meet someone?
Absolutely not. I did not expect to meet anybody romantically at all. At all. No way. I was clear about that when they asked me to do the show. I was not interested in doing a dating show, and that it wasn’t a dating show. I mean, honestly, I have always dated very attractive guys. Not that – (faltering)
Niels: Nate’s cute, but he’s not Chippendale’s.
Jennylee: I think he’s really cute, yeah.
He’s not a model-appearing kind of guy.
Jennylee: I think he’s cute. You know, when people say like, “Oh, it’s so great that you can look past a guy’s looks and see what’s inside,” I’m like, “Yeah well, he’s great -- but he’s also cute!” I’m sure I think he’s cute because he is so great inside. I’m one of those girls who has definitely fallen for a lot of jerks. A lot of pretty-boy jerks. I’m not one of those girls who has ever dated a guy with a lot of money, or a really smart guy.
Yeah, I’ve always gone for those pretty-boy jerks, and Nate is neither one. I think he’s pretty.
When you were giving your final interview, and he kind of crashed in, that was so sweet.
Jennylee: He jumped out the window. (laughs)
I know! That was so sweet. Are you guys still seeing each other?
Jennylee: We talk on the phone every day, and we love talking about the show and stuff. I miss him like crazy, but he’s in Harvard and I’m here in L.A., so…
That’s a big gap.
So would you call yourselves a reality showmance, or a success, or what?
Jennylee: (amused) I am not too familiar with those terms, however I have been hearing them lately. Uh, I don’t know. I don’t know about many other romances on reality television, I don’t watch that much reality television, only my show. (laughs) All I know is that I met somebody really nice, and I love to talk to him, and my aunt called me and she wants to have us over for Hanukkah. (laughs) I thought that was so great.
About the challenges, what was the hardest for you as a team?
Jennylee: Sometimes we didn’t agree on things and it was hard to make a final decision because we were both stuck in our ways and think that our opinion is the best.
Niels: We’re both really determined people, which is awesome when we’re working together, like on the makeover episode, and competing against other people. When we’re having discussions between ourselves, that’s when it comes around and bites you in the butt.
As far as seeing it all on television now, and I’m thinking of that scene when Jennylee was so upset about who to nominate for elimination.
Jennylee: Oh, yeah.
When you look at it now, do you just think you were upset over nothing, or do you get frustrated again and think that Niels wasn’t listening?
Jennylee: At first it was really hard to watch myself get angry. It’s really hard to watch yourself display emotion, especially on television. It’s crazy to watch yourself cry, and to watch yourself yell, but I recall those feelings. I was definitely angry and aggravated at that time. It was really intense, emotional situation. You’re always with the same people all the time, and it’s getting very stressful. It came down to it, every decision you makes matters a lot, and we had to make a really big decision, and we completely disagreed. So it was very hard to deal with. It was very stressful, and I completely got upset.
Niels: I think it’s hard for people to appreciate what an emotional toll it takes. You’re in this house at this point, you’ve been cut off from your family, all your friends, your social support networks, for several weeks now. There’s no phone, no internet, no books, no reading, no TV, and when you start sliding down that emotional slope there’s nothing to catch you.
I’m glad you brought that up, Niels, because boy, you were kind of a mess in that elimination ceremony.
Niels: (laughs) Yeah, they broke me pretty good. (laughs)
I don’t know if you saw her interview with us, but Andrea told us you were wiping your nose and she got sick to her stomach.
Niels: Yeah, uh – I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently my nose was running and it grossed out some of the girls.
Jennylee: Andrea kind of has a weak stomach, though. She was always gagging.
Niels: Well, Andrea and Erin.
Jennylee: Yeah, they both were gagging a lot. It was weird. Very weak stomach, I guess. But he did get really, really emotional. In fact, that’s another reason I got upset, because I don’t like to get emotional, and I tried so hard to keep it together. It’s really hard for me to be, like, not a strong person because I am a very strong person. I did not want to cry or get upset, and in the end, I lost it.
What did you think about the last challenge, was that a good test of teamwork, or was it just a lot of physical work with the 50-pound hay bales?
Niels: Those hay bales – those things weighed way, way more than fifty pounds.
Jennylee: Oh, yeah. You couldn’t imagine how heavy they are. Like, imagine twice as heavy.
Niels: I couldn’t believe it. I was a rower in college, and we did weights, and those hay bales are ridiculous.
Jennylee: And awkward.
Niels: Yeah. They didn’t really show it, but I think Scooter really figured it out. They are so awkward. Jennylee and I carried one almost all the way down to the finish line and had it fall apart on us. Scooter figured out a way to string the strings over his shoulders and hold it on his back. That was just genius.
Jennylee: That was so physically exerting. I’m in pretty good shape, we’re both in pretty good shape. And that took a toll on me physically. I was panting and hyperventilating, and I actually fainted afterwards.
Jennylee: Yeah, really, and Niels caught me.
You were wearing that tiny outfit and had to catch sheep –
Jennylee: I was not wearing the tiny outfit.
Niels: Jennylee actually wore, like, ranching gear. It was a wise decision.
Didn’t you have a bare stomach? I guess I was just thinking of catching the sheep, and how I would want to be wearing a lot of clothing to do that.
Jennylee: I had a tank top on. But the sheep were no problem. Those sheep were the easiest part of the whole thing. The hay was absolutely the worst.
Niels: Yeah, the hay was the worst part. When we finished the hay, I thought I was going to throw up.
Jennylee: Yeah, I did too.
Niels: I didn’t think I was going to make it to milking the cows.
Jennylee: I said, “I’m going to throw up or faint.” And I fainted.
As far as Megan turning out to be so good at milking the cow – did you find out anything you didn’t expect about yourselves from the challenges?
Jennylee: I was actually pretty good at milking that cow. I was pretty impressed with myself. (laughs)
Niels: Yeah. Turns out I have an eye for fashion.
Jennylee: When we got the fashion auction challenge, “Pimp Your Geek,” I was like, if we’re going to win a challenge, this is the challenge.” I don’t know, I found out that I don’t like the library very much, but that isn’t news.
Jennylee: I actually love kayaking. We didn’t even get to get in a boat. And my favorite was probably the guy’s challenge of exercise and aerobics, because I love aerobics. I was so fitness-deprived at that point, it was great to do all those fitness routines. I was like, “Keep it coming.” It was great.
When you watched the show, and you could see Cecille saying things like she didn’t “believe in running,” how does it feel to lose to someone like that?
Niels: I don’t think that was the most offensive thing she said.
Jennylee: Yes, it was such a side note. (laughs) But um…somebody has to win, and it wasn’t us, that time.
Niels: At least we like her partner.
Jennylee: We love Nate! I like Cecille too, we’re friends. But she’s not always, you know, appropriate.
Do you feel like she’s being real, or is that for television? I mean, when she would say things like that little zinger about the bikini on the blonde on the ranch – I’m sorry, I didn’t write it down and I don’t know what she said exactly because I didn’t know what she was getting at.
Niels: I don’t think that is just for TV, that’s definitely her. That really is Cecille.
Jennylee: (agreeing) No, no, that is really typical of Cecille. It can be really fun sometimes, but at that time in my life, and at that time right there, that was not so fun for me.
Can you explain what you meant when you said that her comment was inappropriate? I understand what you meant, but this is your chance to explain it since there wasn’t much time on the show.
Jennylee: Yeah, at that time, we were in the elimination room, we had just found out that we were going to be leaving the mansion, and that it was the last time we were going to be seeing this place and these people, and that was really sad. So for her to say anything like that at that time, for her to make light of the situation like that, was so inappropriate. I was on the verge of tears as it was, and that was just like a swift kick to the gut. I could have said a lot of things that were equally as inappropriate back to her, but I didn’t. I just said, “You know, that’s inappropriate.” It really did upset me and hurt my feelings at the time.
I’m glad you spoke up to her. So, do you guys want to say who you’re rooting for?
Jennylee: We’re not – we’re impartial, because it’s tough.
Niels: I’m rooting for Nate and Scooter.
Jennylee: Ha ha. Yeah, it’s tough.
Niels: We’ll leave you with this. We have a final cast party at Tao for the final episode on the 21st, and we’d love to see all our fans come out there.
Jennylee: Yes, it’s at Tao in Las Vegas. We’d love to meet everybody and have a good time, so come party with us. It’s at the Venetian.
That sounds great!
Thanks very much to CW for letting us talk to Niels and Jennylee. Any FORTers want to hit the party on the 21st?