British version of acclaimed US reality show - seven male geeks pair up with seven female beauties in a castle in Scotland. The objective? The geeks must teach their partners geeky things whilst the models must teach the geeks how to be a bit more cool and socially aware. Will the geeks act typically shy and socially inadequate around their heavily bosomed partners? How will the models react to differential equations? In each episode, the partners are put to the test to see how much they've taken on board, with the worst performing couple booted off, and the ultimate winners splitting £40,000. Written by
bob the moo
Enjoyable if silly reality show that won me over by being gently mocking (rather than cruel), fun and very tongue-in-cheek
British version of acclaimed US reality show - seven male geeks pair up with seven female beauties in a castle in Scotland. The objective? The geeks must teach their partners geeky things whilst the models must teach the geeks how to be a bit cooler and socially aware. Will the geeks act typically shy and socially inadequate around their heavily bosomed partners? How will the models react to differential equations? In each episode, the partners are put to the test to see how much they've taken on board, with the worst performing couple booted off, and the ultimate winners splitting £40,000.
I had never heard of this show when it came to E4 recently and I certainly didn't know it had been a hit formula in the US already but the comic style of the trailers made me curious enough to take a look. And once I had I was hooked for the whole series even though it was daft from start to finish. The idea is simple enough the guys and girls are teamed up in pairs; each week the pairs compete in two tasks. The girl must compete in a science or knowledge based task with the guys prepping them, while the guys must take part in a beauty, fashion or pop culture test with the girls prepping them beforehand. The two losing couples go head to head in a quiz with the losing couple leaving the house. Although this sounds like the whole show, the UK series succeeds because it is not all about that. Instead it is all about the people and the humour involved in each task these get us into the people and thus we care about them when it comes to the final stand-off.
Essentially it comes down to the style of humour. Too many reality shows go after their subjects with a cruel edge in order to get viewers, either by mocking them, putting them through cruel tasks or by humiliating them. However with this show this is never really on the table and instead the show gently ribs the characters and has a sense of fun about it that narrator, audience and contestants all seem to have bought into. This means that the beauties are poked fun at but in a way they can laugh at themselves this could be seen in the first episode "Mastermind" quiz where the girls were laughing at themselves. Likewise the "geeks" are not attacked but they are allowed to be themselves which at times sees them being very geeky but so what? The tasks are not cruel but are actually achievable and challenging (as well as being fun). They are inventive and enjoyable and the show never left me in any doubt that it was all a bit of fun.
The contestants match the delivery because they haven't gone for anyone too far in the extreme. The geeks are actually just smart guys who are a bit socially awkward none of them come across like obsessive role-playing nerds or the type of guys who would watch loads of movies and endlessly post their opinions onto the net (no, none are anywhere near as bad as that). Likewise the girls are actually pretty aware people, none of them are total bimbos (although there are a couple who you hope will make lots of money before their looks go). Of the girls I felt that Hayley was the dopiest and closest to the cliché. Sam and Carrie were a bit bland and superficial. Terri was a tremendously abrasive northern woman who is good looking but very frightening; I have met one woman from Leeds just as beautiful who was just as harsh so maybe this is just the way it is? My favourite two were Alex and Elissa both were stunning and had good personalities; Alex seemed the most fun to be around and Elissa's unusual looks made her stick in my mind. The guys obviously have less to attract me but I liked Ben, John, Will and Edmund; Phillip, David and Jamie were less interesting but still all seemed reasonable people. As a group they all worked well together and they contributed to the show engaging me. The wonderful Mitchell (Peep Show) does a great job with the narrator he is dripping with sarcasm but avoids being cruel; it helps that he has an element of the geek about him too.
I never thought I would really enjoy a trashy reality show but this one won me over. It is silly, trashy but fun. It avoids being cruel and instead gets everyone on the same page, thus avoiding the exploitative aftertaste that too many of these shows have. The contestants are all fun and the narration just tops it off nicely. One criticism would be the fact that it tends to trail what is coming five minutes later, thus making it feel like you've seen parts of the show about three times and that it is filling time to make up the hour; but other than that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how on-target the delivery was.
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