I blame Revenge of the Nerds for a lot of the bullshit about nerds that survives today. While being a mildly entertaining movie, it also ruined the perception of nerds, something we are still recovering from today. For a long time, those two nerds were the poster children for the nerd duo. How depressing.
Luckily, nowadays there are many positive examples of awesome nerd duos on TV. Here are six of my favorites, in both terms of nerdiness and duoness.
1. Frasier and Niles Crane, “Frasier”
“Wait, what? That cannot be! Those two are the farthest things from nerds that have ever graced network TV!”, is what I am hearing you all say right now. But they totally are. Their obsessions with the minutiae of their hobbies. Their constant bickering over things no one else cares about, their own lingo that no one outside of their circle gets. They even fit the more cliché images of nerds, with their allergies and sports-ineptitude. As brothers they make a great duo, constantly fighting but always relying on and supporting each other. The only real problem is that Niles is clearly the more likable of the two.
2. Geordi and Data, “Stark Trek: The Next Generation”.
Two best friends. Scientists/engineers. Like to LARP as Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Terrible time with the ladies. These guys are a great nerd duo. And on one of the most lauded nerd shows ever.
3. Lem and Phil, “Better off Ted”.
Another criminally early canceled show, Better off Ted introduced us to the world of Veridian Dynamics, a slightly evil company that makes everything from genetically modified food to highly experimental weapons of destruction. While all of the characters in Better of Ted were fantastic, it’s hard not to love Lem and Phil the most, the two charmingly awkward scientists in Veridian’s research branch. Like many of the duos on this list, they helped make the show.
4. The Trio, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
How could I not? They’re even called the three nerds on the show. Supposedly most of their arguments and banter were taking verbatim from the show’s writers actual discussions and arguments, and it made for some of the best dialogue in season 6. Granted, the show painted a pretty grim picture of nerdom, with their social ineptitude being so severe that it actually leads to murder. Luckily, the contrasted this well to the healthy nerdom of Xander Harris. The three nerds were a warning: Don’t cloister yourself off from the real world, and don’t think that just because you are intelligent and alienated, that you are better than others.
5. Troy and Abed, “Community”
Of course. Is there a more obvious choice? These two are so fantastic, just a perfect picture of nerds, and an endearing and wonderful duo. Their camaraderie is a sincere friendship without ever delving into homophobic jokes or “bromance”. Community is pretty much the best thing on the air, and they are a big part of that.
6. Penny, Bernadette, and Amy, from The Big Bang Theory
Honestly, I think these three women are far funnier and more interesting than any of the guys on BBT, save Sheldon. Raj and Howard’s bromance can be charming, at times, but they are often hackneyed, and smack of homophobic “bromance” references. Leonard and Sheldon are an odd-couple more than a duo. The show was greatly improved by the arrival of Bernadette and Amy, women who are funny on their own, instead of just being the token lady which Penny started as.
Big Bang Theory is dishonest about nerds, in my opinion. Something about the costuming. But that’s for another post.
So, why all the guys? Why are the girls from BBT the only ones on this list? Is it just my own views that is shading this so phallocentrically? And if not, why no engaging female nerd duos or trios on TV?
I worry that it has less to do with the nerd aspect, and more the duo: It’s like TV is afraid of having two women who are best friends without making them somehow catty. Seriously, there are so many aspects of bromance on tv and in movies, but very few programs have lovable sismance. Hell, there isn’t even a word for it! I just had to make that up! I think that incontrovertibly proves my point.
Please, please let me know about some great female duos or trios that I may have missed.