It's a good time to be a geek.
It's a good time to be a geek.
I'm fairly sure I've made clear in various installments of this column that I enjoy television and watch an awful lot of it.
If I haven't been clear ... I enjoy television and watch an awful lot of it.
The great thing about TV right now, is that we geeks have representation on a national scale and it's good representation.
While there are obvious programs to point to (the comic book-based "The Walking Dead" and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." are successful geek shows that come to mind), I want to focus on the shows about geeks, not just those that appease their interests.
We have shows that celebrate geek endeavors. Shows with a focus on science and scientists are airing on major networks during prime-time viewing hours. TBS's "King of the Nerds" is an entire series dedicated to celebrating geeks and nerds from all walks of life — from the video gamer to the NASA engineer — and then locking them in geeky competition.
I was skeptical of this show when it was first being advertised. It looked like it might be making fun of my tribe. I could only imagine the pitch to the network: "OK, so we take this group of geeks, make them compete against each other and film all the stupid, dorky stuff they do. It'll be hilarious."
After watching that show for two full seasons, I'm glad to see that my fears were unwarranted. These aren't just the stereotypical dorks who live in their parents' basement. Rocket scientists and historians compete against video gamers and bloggers in challenges that reach all aspects of being a geek.
The second monarch was crowned recently, and I hope that we get the chance to celebrate a third.
"Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" was an educational science series from 1980, presented by Carl Sagan. Now, in 2014, we have astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson presenting the updated version — subtitled "A Spacetime Odyssey" — on Fox in the prime-time viewing period. This show airs at the same time as "The Walking Dead." This baffles me and pleases me to no end. Fox is giving a prime-time viewing slot to an educational show that discusses evolution in its second episode. Tyson looks directly into the camera and says, in no uncertain terms, that people who don't believe in evolution are wrong. That's huge for a network to risk alienating an entire section of the population like that, but I love it. I'm excited by the prospect of how many kids will see this show and begin to question and explore the world around them.
That's a huge part of being a geek. The exploration of something that interests you, wanting to understand every single aspect of that thing. I often wonder — as recent college graduates often do — where my life would have gone had I watched more "Bill Nye the Science Guy" and less "SpongeBob SquarePants" growing up. Would I have become a geek about the world and how it works? What new wave of future scientists will discover their passion on a Sunday night because they didn't turn off the TV or change the channel when "Family Guy" ended?
We've come a long way with geeks in the media since "Revenge of the Nerds" came out nearly 30 years ago. We aren't the butt of the joke, we're a part of this world. We grow up and, in between comic books, create the technology used by the masses. Geeks unlock the mysteries of the world.
We need to continue celebrating the geeks in the media so that kids aren't afraid of ridicule for pursuing geeky endeavors. We need to make more time in our TV schedules to teach as well as entertain. I like living in a world where an astrophysicist has a prime-time TV show and almost 2 million Twitter followers. I'm excited where this path will take us.
Ian Hand is assistant editor for Tempo and an enormous geek. Follow him on Twitter @IanHand_MT.