If people got their panties in a bind over “Big Bang Theory,” try watching the Syfy show “Fangasm.” It’s staged, well edited, and saccharine. And yet, I may keep watching anyway. But then I’m a sadist. You can really see where most of the show is set up and conveniently edited, and you really don’t have to look all that carefully. The premise is seven geeks working for Stan Lee for his Comikaze convention. Lee doesn’t even show up to greet his interns, really, but hey George Takei does. So that’s something (?). How convenient that two of the interns are humongous trekkies, right?
“Fangasm” is the Syfy reality show that the network’s been trying for, for a long time now. With TBS now owning the bafflingly well received “King of the Nerds,” this is a show that could bring aboard a ton of followers. It’s from the producers of “Jersey Shore,” so they know how to stage and edit to create drama, and friction (An argument over the quality of DC versus Marvel is cut away from very abruptly, and there’s Marvel paraphernalia in nearly every single shot of the pilot). Even among people who love the same things, there is bound to be a fight, argument, or rivalry somewhere. And for the sake of maintaining the predominantly male audience, the trio of geek girls on the cast are all very attractive and appealing. So there’s that bait for guys to continue watching. Did I mention one of the geek cast members actually lived in his parents’ basement before the show?
I’m sure one of the requests was for the interns to bring geek apparel and memorabilia along for their living quarters, so everyone “shockingly” brings along a ton of geek stuff like Green Lantern action figures, and a pile of graphic novels, to name a few. And since the trio of geek girls are huge cosplay fanatics, the group are invited to a Geek Pride show, which is headlined by a trio of scantily clad women dancing erotically for the audience. The girls, of course, are not happy and there’s a big conversation about how geeks are constantly debased and exploited. To their credit, the producers really seemed to have done their research on geek culture and know all the right strings to pull to get the interns either very happy or incredibly riled up. The show so far never seems to know if it’s trying to pay homage to geek culture, or if it’s mocking the geek culture.
It becomes tougher to distinguish when even the interns mock one another behind closed doors. “Fangasm” is only watchable because the entire cast are likable and often very charming. They all seem so utterly fun to be around, and the finale where one of the cast members breaks down crying after meeting George Takei, thinking back to days watching “Star Trek” with his late grandmother seems sincere, and is a touching bit of insight in to fandom. I wish the show had more moments like that. While the show itself is a bit of geek exploitation, at least the cast seem to have the best of intentions. Surely, the folks who still get clenched over “The Big Bang Theory” and its depiction of nerd culture, will not find “Fangasm” to be any more of a flattering portrayal.
The next episode promises Elvira, Mistress of the Dark who will to meet the group. I’m sure there’s going to be a “Who will say the stupidest thing to this gorgeous woman?” contest (along with a ton of convenient shocked and confused reactionary double takes from the women) when she sits down to interact with the guys. At best, it’s a guilty pleasure for the network, and at this point I can see this as a guilty treat for days when I want to punish myself whilst wearing my Dr. Doom T-shirt.
Now airing on Syfy. Check Local Listings.