Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Irresponsible Casting on “Geek”

Posted by Trixter on January 13, 2006

Melissa and I like to watch the show Beauty and the Geek, currently starting its second season, because she’s attracted to the intelligent nerdy type (lucky for me!) and I live vicariously through them as the nerd who didn’t get that kind of advice when he needed it and wants to see what happens to nerds that do get it in time. However, watching the season 2 premiere, it became increasingly apparent that the contestant named Chris is undiagnosed autistic, probably Asberger’s Syndrome. He may have come off as a jerk, but having been around many autistic people in my life (not to mention my own son, who is on the autistic spectrum), I’ve come to recognize the traits of a high functioning autistic person.

This really bothers me, because one of the hallmarks of an autistic person is an inability to pick up on social and facial cues — it’s like they’re aliens living in our world and trying to figure out our customs. They simply don’t pick up on non-verbal body language, and as a result grow up not really knowing how to relate to others properly (depending on the level of their affliction).

I don’t know if the producers of the show knew this or not; if they didn’t, they made a mistake and I hope for his sake that Chris is voted off the program quickly. All of his “jerk” behavior, such as the arrogance, the methodical quizzing of all the other contestants, choosing not to participate in the first night’s social gathering because “he didn’t want to embarrass them” (complete misreading of social situations), etc. — these are all hallmarks of a high-functioning autistic person. Keeping him in the show will be the social equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel and will do more harm than good.

3 Responses to “Irresponsible Casting on “Geek””

  1. Kent said

    Just wondering, but so what if Chris is autistic? You don’t believe he can learn a thing or two about being social along the way?

  2. Trixter said

    Autistic people can’t learn things they cannot perceive in the first place. That’s what makes it a mental disorder — for example, if you were blind, I couldn’t explain the color red in any way that you could understand.

    Anyway, time will tell. I know all the shows are pre-taped already; I just hope he leaves quickly and is spared a lot of frustration.

  3. Trixter said

    A few years after I wrote this post, I learned how reality TV is anything but reality — they have writers, producers, actors, etc. I stopped watching all reality TV after that.

    So, what of Chris, the semi-autistic person I wrote about above? Today, he’s a TV literary agent. You have to build very many relationships for that kind of job, so it’s obvious he’s not autistic, and I was completely wrong, or completely fooled, or both. Screw reality TV.

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