I love television. Growing up in an isolated northern community, television gave me a window onto a wider world. Where else would I have learned that cars could talk, school teachers could become accidental superheroes and scientists could leap through time in their own lifetime? Later, I would never have learned that a college student could slide between universes, that the military had a gate that connected other galaxies and that the truth was, most definitely, out there. (And that anything spoken in Gillian Anderson’s voice was very likely the truth…but I digress.) And through it all, of course, I learned that in the future we would trek through the stars.
Nowadays television is just as educational, if you manage to wade past the vampires and/or werewolves. I’ve managed to get multiple bachelor degrees in “guys in a classic car with a trunk full of guns kicking monster ass”, “high-tension remake of an 80’s cult classic, this time with a hot Starbuck and Cylon”, and “spiritual successor to The X-files, surprisingly not yet cancelled by FOX”. Slap in a few graduate seminars in “bantery space cowboys”, “big building full of off-the-wall artifacts”, “Andy Griffith meets mad science” and “reboot of a British classic starring a blue police box”, and my television education has flourished! And the “classes” just keep on coming; there are easily a half dozen I am looking forward to auditing this summer.
Through all of that, though, I have felt something lacking. As much as I love the shows that fuel my geekdom, what I crave the most deep down in the dorkness of my soul…are shows about geeks. I love watching geeks being geeks, their awkward tribulations, their nerdy misadventures. More than anything, watching those shows makes me feel part of the larger community of geeks because I can usually find a character or characters with whom I identify. Typecast doesn’t even come close; I could do a walk-on in my sleep on practically any of these shows. These are the parts I was born to play!
And this is where main-stream television, I feel, has let me down. Yes, there have been a few shows; Freaks & Geeks and Big Bang Theory come to mind. But of those two only one is still on television, and while I do enjoy Big Bang Theory it just isn’t enough for me. Its focus is much too specific to a particular type of geek (science nerds), and while I can enjoy watching that world, ultimately I am not part of it.
Luckily I am not alone in my desire for these shows, and imaginative, talented geeks have seeded this sub-genre all over the internet. I can’t turn on the interweb without stumbling across another bit of Geek TV, and I couldn’t be happier. Geek drama, dorks in love, nerd comedy; it’s all there in glorious spades. Combine imagination with a boom in easier-to-use video/audio technology, sprinkle it with internet-provided ease of distribution and voila! Geek TV is here to stay!
In case you have been unfortunate enough to have no idea what I am talking about, here are five of my favorites just to get you started. In no particular order, here is my Geek TV prime-time line-up:
Though I managed to avoid getting drawn too deep into the online gaming culture, that did not stop me from enjoying the hell out of The Guild when I found it. For the couple of you just now noticing your rock ceiling, The Guild follows the trials and tribulations of Codex (played by Felicia Day; she also writes and directs) as she tries to balance her real and virtual lives. The ensemble on this is fantastic, and the writing and subsequent acting is excellent. The fourth season is up on the website, and if memory serves shooting has wrapped on season five (though that could just be wishful thinking on my part). And if you want to get just a little taste, check out the two music videos: Do You Wanna Date My Avatar and Game On!
Like finding the secret door in the treasure room, I came across Gold completely by accident one day. And then I stopped what I was doing and watched it all. Gold is set in a world in which role-playing games are a professional sport with medal rankings. It follows the fractious American team as they prepare for the upcoming World RPG Tournament. Now, if this had been treated as a comedy I am sure I would have enjoyed it. But instead of taking the obvious comedic route, they show’s creators took the much more interesting dramatic path and I think they made the right choice. This is a show with a lot of heart, and it is going to ring true for many role-players out there. And if you like Gold, follow it up with Night of the Zombie King, by the same creators.
Still on role-playing but firmly in the comedic camp, we move on to JourneyQuest. JourneyQuest follows a band of less-than-elite adventurers as they search for wealth and fame, and the bard desperate to turn their misadventures into an epic tale. Besides some really funny writing and artful acting from the cast, the show also plays around with POV and time in entertaining ways. If you loved the short films The Gamers and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, this series is going to be firmly and permanently in you wheelhouse.
What do you get when you combine a dungeon master, his home-brewed D&D campaign and a bevy of porn actresses and strippers? I Hit It With My Axe, a delightful little docu-series about a D&D game where the players just happen to work in the adult entertainment industry. And while you might get drawn in by the hot girls playing RPGs…okay, you’ll likely stay for them too. But along the way you will also have a really fun time learning that porn stars are just like the rest of us gaming geeks; they want to hit things, collect XP and find the treasure.
Last but not least in any way, my most recent of awesome discoveries is Awkward Embraces. If nothing else makes me glad I’m on Twitter, this does, because I would never have known about it otherwise. The series follows three friends, Jessica, Candis and Lyndsey, as they navigate each other through their personal and professional lives. Hilarity ensues because Jessica is, well, a huge nerd, and not very well versed in what we would refer to as “the real world”. Lucky for her, Candis and Lyndsey are more than willing to steer her in the right direction. Everyone will love this show for its clever writing and engaging characters. And speaking directly to 90% of geek guys (and statistically 10% of the geek girls), if you don’t fall in love with one of these three characters (or all, I’m not the boss of you) then you have no soul. None. And make sure to check out the Minisodes, following the cutely awkward mating dance of two background characters, Alec and Andrea.
Okay, that’s my top five, and that should be more than enough to get you started. Let me know what you think in the comments below. And if you have some of your own discoveries you want to share, send the links my way!