According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a nerd refers to “a person, especially a man, who is not attractive and is awkward or socially embarrassing.” It also defines a person who is particularly and obsessively interested in a specific subject, especially computers. A nerd is often pictured as someone who wears glasses and a person without a good fashion sense. Another common characteristic of nerds is that they are introverts.
Today, however, television shows portray nerds in a different light. Although they still have the same appearance as what of you might think of upon hearing the word nerd, they are depicted in a more positive picture. In the past years, it seems like the definition of nerd has changed.
In the rest of this short article, we’ll talk about how TV shows changed how we picture nerds. The success of these shows reveals that nerds have a place in society, and they are no longer the kind of people we ignore.
The Best TV Shows Starring Nerds
Now, let’s talk about some shows that star nerds and their success. In one way or another, they paved the way to redefining nerds and making them more accepted in today’s society.
If you watch Drake and Josh full episodes, you will understand what we are talking about. This Nickelodeon show started in the early 2000s. The show is about the lives of Drake Parker and Josh Nichols. Drake is a musician and ladies’ man. His stepbrother, Josh, on the other hand, is nerdy and effeminate. Josh eventually lost weight and looked better. The two navigate through their high school life in the show, making it relatable for the younger viewers. Early this year, there has been news about the possible reboot of the show.
Another TV show that has a new perspective about nerds is The Big Bang Theory. The show ran for 12 years and is believed to have normalized nerds and geeks. It first aired in September 2007. This CBS show is about Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, two California science professors. The reception was not positive during the first episodes, with most people assuming that it was just another mockery of all things geeky. It is old-fashioned in its views. Nonetheless, for those who watched the show, it is not just all about the nerd culture. There were many instances wherein being geeky was made fun of. Even if it promoted nerd shaming, the show helped to promote the idea that nerds are the new normal.
Parks and Recreation is another show that brought nerds into a positive light. This is an American political satire. One of the characters in the show is Ben Wyatt, who is extremely popular in the nerd community. This is perhaps one of the best nerd portrayals in the history of modern TV shows. While there are still moments of social awkwardness, he lives a good life and has a great relationship. His success as a professional was not hindered by him being a geek.
Psych, an American detective comedy-drama is another show worth mentioning as we talk about normalizing the geeks. It is not as popular as the shows mentioned above, but it is equally entertaining. The story is about Shawn Spencer who has a super memory. He pretends to be a psychic as he helps the Santa Barbara Police department in solving murder cases. The lead characters are nerds and they are the source of comedy, unlike others that are the object of the comedy. This shows that nerds are funny and not supposed to be the object of fun.
Is Nerd Now a Positive Term?
With the discussions above regarding the TV shows that positively depict nerds, this brings us to the next question – is a nerd now a word that connotes a positive meaning?
When you mention the word geek and nerd these days, most people will associate them with some of the biggest names, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Chris Klue, a self-confessed nerd, is celebrated. He was even voted Sexiest Man of the Year. He admits that he is a nerd video player. Even on dating websites, singles, mostly males, use the word nerd with pride.
The definition and picture of nerds changed from the first time the word was introduced. The first time nerd was written about was in 1951 by Dr. Seuss. Now, nerds are seen to be more than just socially awkward people.
In one article from BBC, the author notes that nerd is now a word that is used to depict people who have in-depth knowledge and expertise in a certain field, especially in computers or technology.
The Continuing Challenge
While it is undeniable that we are seeing nerds in a new way in this modern age, it is also true that there are still many instances wherein they are portrayed unfavorably manner. From the way they dress to the way they look, the portrayal of nerdy roles does not often equate to other roles. In most comedies, they are still the object of fun, even if there are already shows that depicted them in better roles.
Today, our cultural consciousness still equates nerds to sartorially challenged individuals, especially white males. TV shows have been effective in giving a new perspective to nerds, but from what we have seen, it seems that they are not enough to change the way the society view nerds. There is still a long way to go, but at least, TV shows are taking the first step towards normalizing the life of nerds and showing that they can be successful and happy instead of being bullied.
While nerd culture is still a subject of fun in many TV shows, it is undeniable that it has portrayed nerds in a more positive light. In a way, it normalized people who consider themselves as nerds. It is no longer surprising that being a nerd suddenly became cool.