entertainment

Is this the most insulting show on TV?

Beauty and the Geek

by KATIE FOUND

Channel Seven’s reality show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? … I mean, Beauty and the Geek Australia, has one-upped itself on the sexist front this season.

The show is constructed as a social experiment: 10 female ”beauties” and 10 male ”geeks” live together in a mansion. They pair up and participate in weekly challenges that test their academic and social skills.

What tends to happen – as evidenced in previous seasons – is that the ”beauties” help the ”geeks” become more socially comfortable, while the geeks help the beauties become more intellectually comfortable. Together, they combat insecurities, expand comfort zones, establish friendships with people they wouldn’t usually associate with, and evolve into more well-rounded human beings.

This time around, the creators decided that this angle wasn’t going to cut it. There had to be a twist. So, they threw in a ”secret millionaire geek”.

The emphasis on this facet of the show is embarrassing, and the beauties’ reaction to it even more so. The 10 young women were reduced to giggling, gasping schoolgirls when Bernard Curry, the host, revealed the twist in the first episode.

”Money does make guys a little bit more attractive”, pronounced one beauty. ”I like presents, so I really wanted the millionaire so he could buy me cool presents,” said another. According to one beauty, a chorus of ”I got dibs” echoed throughout the mansion following the announcement.

Though squealing girls embarking on a treasure hunt may make for good television, the inclusion of a ”millionaire geek” renders the social experiment useless. There is no way that it can lead to accurate or relevant findings if half of the participants are more interested in finding and seducing a rich nerd than the task at hand. The sound effect, ”Cha-ching!” is much too loud to concentrate on anything else, anyway.

In the third episode, the secret millionaire geek was revealed. It happened during a challenge in which the beauties and the geeks attempted to break the world record for the longest hug. In reaction to the confession, a beauty quipped, ”You’ve got a millionaire’s arms around you; dream come true, isn’t it?”

When the rest of the participants found out, more gasps and squeals ensued. One beauty posed the question, ”Do you reckon some of the other girls in the house will change, knowing that he’s a millionaire now?” to which another replied, ”I think that every girl has that fantasy of marrying a rich man.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The majority of the beauties, however, seemed sure that nothing would change; that Nathan would be treated in the same way as before. I find this very hard to believe. I can’t imagine that the beauties are going to merely congratulate the millionaire geek on his success.

Katie

Not only would this behaviour be out of line with how they have presented themselves thus far, but it would not support the reason for including a millionaire in the first place: drama.

Social experiment validity aside, the inclusion of a millionaire geek reinforces negative gender stereotypes: financially successful man, gold-digging woman. Beauty and the Geek already relies on negative gender stereotypes as the basis for the show, but this addition is just taking it too far. It is merely a cheap and insulting way of inserting a bit of extra drama.

The creators should have added to the groundwork they laid last season: the twist being the inclusion of one female geek and one male beauty. This twist was intelligent, and worked to erode negative gender stereotypes. Couldn’t they have made this year 50/50 with female geeks and male beauties?

Perhaps it’s not the creator’s fault: Channel Seven seems to have picked a clear theme for our Thursday night viewing, and this cheap twist means that Beauty and the Geek Australia fits within that theme perfectly.

All Channel Seven needs to do now is make Ted Mosby reveal that ”How I Met your Mother was by waving a wad of fifties in her face” and the 7.30-9.30pm timeslot will be one well-oiled, sexist machine.

This article was originally published in The Age and has been republished with full permission.

Katie Found is a Melbourne-based journalist, playwright and director. Keep in the Katie-loop via Twitter: @katiefound.

 Do you watch Beauty and the Geek? Do you find the format of the show sexist?

00:00 / ???