Nerds Ruminating Upon Nerds
August 20, 2010 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend some TV shows and other forms of storytelling that are in a very specific and possibly just now emerging genre?

These are the things that fit into the genre:

The Guild, Big Bang Theory, IT Crowd, and to a certain extent, Scott Pilgrim, although that's up for a certain amount of debate. (The movie definitely fit this genre more than the comic for me.)

These are shows made by and for nerds (geeks dorks whatever!) about nerds. Semi-realistic ones in some ways and almost always humorously self-deprecating but with heart. People who don't fulfill their superhero fantasies but do fulfill their making a space invader of Dr Pepper cans fantasies. People pretty much like me in their obsessions and knowledge, but funnier and probably secretly more attractive.

These are also shows that really, I'd expect to be made using twenty bucks and a roll of duct tape and surreptitiously passed around via fifth generation VHS or CDR and occasionally screened at cons, but are instead made by actual talented people with actual budgets and usually for actual tv (or screen).

I suppose that Spaced also slightly fits the genre, in that it's about a group of socially maladjusted misfits who end up watching movies and having invisible gun battles, but it doesn't quite scratch the itch like IT Crowd does. Same with shows like the Office or 30 Rock. Sure, there are nerdy characters, but it's not quite as... self-identifying for me.

But basically, I love watching/reading/absorbing these things. I'd been avoiding the Guild for a long time out of seeing too much of myself in it the first go-around, but the other day I watched all of it in a big chunk and it was fantastic, and now I can't find any more!

Since the age of the nerd is upon us, I'm sure more of these sorts of shows and movies will pop up as time goes on. But are there any that I've missed? I'd also take suggestions for other forms of fiction, but they need to be well-made, and not just deserving of cult status. Some fantasy/sci fi/anime is okay, but chances are I've already watched or read it, in that case! Supposedly I'm missing out on one of the SyFy series, but I can never remember which one.

Bonus points if there's a snappy name for this genre that I just don't know about yet.
posted by Mizu to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
You might enjoy Miranda. Shes NerdLite and this does fall into traditional sitcom territory much of the time but given your love of IT Crowd and Big Bang, I think you'd find her charming.

If only we could get Miranda and Moss together.
posted by Ness at 5:45 AM on August 20, 2010

Check out Freaks and Geeks, although it's set around 1981.

Also, while it's not really "meta" at all, you sound like you might appreciate the goofy skits between the movie segments on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
posted by kimota at 6:02 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've probably already seen it since it's sort of Guild-related, and it doesn't exactly fit your "realistic" criteria, but The Legend of Neil is pretty damn funny and totally nerdy. It's a bit more low-brow than The Guild but still awesome, especially if you've ever played Zelda.
posted by bondcliff at 6:06 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Simon Pegg recently stated that Scott Pilgrim (the movie, at least) "is the closest thing you will ever see to a third series of Spaced." So I definitely would not discount Spaced.

Film wise, there was a small british comedy called Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (also starring Chris O'Dowd, who plays Roy on The IT Crowd); it wasn't the greatest piece of cinema ever, but pretty entertaining for a movie about three nerds arguing about the rules of time travel as they themselves get caught up in time travel.

Two more shows off the top of my head: Chuck seems to go over well with a certain portion of the geek populace, and The Venture Brothers taps into a certain level of cartoon obsession that I haven't found anywhere else.
posted by Remy at 6:31 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nerds have always been with us! Check out Colin's Sandwich - a pre-internet-era comedy series about a British Railways clerk who wants to become a horror fiction writer.
posted by essexjan at 6:34 AM on August 20, 2010

This metatalk post links to a web show about an IT guy who's daily problems we see through the lens of his computer monitor. It's got no home life whatsoever, but might still apply.
posted by edbles at 7:12 AM on August 20, 2010

I'm really enjoying Eureka right now.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:24 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you seen Free Enterprise?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:31 AM on August 20, 2010

Chuck! Chuck! Chuck! Seasons 1 and 2 are out on DVD, Season 3 drops Sept 7, and Season 4 will air this fall on NBC.

Why it fits your criteria: Chuck works for the "Nerd Herd" at the local "Buy More." He ends up (in the premiere episode) with a supercomputer of intelligence information in his brain. So he DOES, to some extent, get to be the superhero. HOWEVER, the supporting cast of Nerd Herders are more like your Dr. Pepper scenario.

I watch Chuck with a group of self-professed geeks and nerds (4 librarians, a programmer, a database admin, an actuary, and a botanist) and we really enjoy it.
posted by 100watts at 7:56 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Glee is basically about high school music geeks.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:05 AM on August 20, 2010

A buddy of mine decided not to produce a film. That film is now Corpse Run.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:07 AM on August 20, 2010

I think this is all happening right now because all the kids who grew up with Atari and Nintendo have jobs now and are making things they want to see. And I am all for it!

As far as TV shows go all the ones mentioned above fit your criteria pretty perfectly.

For some outliers, are you interested in shows that are about misfits who become superheroes? Cause then there's The Tick, and Kick-Ass. There's also a web series called Chad Vader which is about the travails of Darth Vader, night shift manager at a supermarket.

Be Kind Rewind maybe, because of the aesthetic of producing things with cardboard and duct tape?
posted by lhall at 10:44 AM on August 20, 2010

Eureka, Warehouse 13, the very excellent Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, and the frustratingly canceled Better Off Ted all fit the rough mold you are describing. I think the best way to characterize it doesn't say "look, if you like this you must be geeky" so much as provide content that if you aren't a geek, you probably wouldn't even notice.

Some of the really technical arguments about movies on Big Bang Theory sort of exemplifies this.
posted by quin at 2:14 PM on August 20, 2010

Ah, I love this genre too! I'd call it 'Post-nerd'. Garth Merenghi's Darkplace is similar, in that it's about a fictional eighties horror fiction author's geekery, but could only have been made by an actual eighties horror fiction geek (plus it stars Moss!). It's maybe a sub-genre (or meta?) of the type you're looking for. And joyfully so!
posted by freya_lamb at 3:03 PM on August 20, 2010

For D&D nerds, there's the low budget but funny The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (2008)
posted by jayne at 4:58 PM on August 20, 2010

Check out Graham Linehan (creator of The IT Crowd, Father Ted, and Black Books)'s short film 'Hello, Friend', if you haven't. It's on the dvd for the first series of the IT Crowd. You can probably find it on YouTube, as well. Seconding Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Best show of the decade... probably.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2010

Peep Show, maybe. I don't consider myself a nerd, but really can relate to incidents in Mark's life, like when he has his ipod on shuffle at a party and it comes up with some sort of history-lesson program, ha! It's all on youtube.
posted by martianna at 8:02 PM on August 20, 2010

For people checking out this question in the future: watch Black Books, because I recently did and hoo-boy, is it uncanny. No clue why I hadn't before.

I've marked best answer on a few of the ones I've since determined to be in-line with what I was actually looking for, and thanks for all the recs!

Hopefully this genre will have a snappy name soon enough.
posted by Mizu at 8:12 AM on May 24, 2011

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