Credit: TLC

It’s hard out there for a geek. They may grow up to be super-successful, but the nerds on last night’s TLC special Geek Love proved they still have a ways to go in the dating department.

In the two special episodes that aired (TLC is currently testing the show for a potential series), viewers were treated to the personal tales of a handful of the individuals that make the pilgrimage to Comic Con each year — many of them sadly single. The show centered around a speed-dating event at NY Comic Con, led by Ryan Glitch, founder of Sci-Fi Speed Dating. Glitch explained he got inspired to create this event because the typical bar scene doesn’t work for Comic Con folk. When the costumed Trekkies, Potterphiles, and Iron Men came into the convention center, you could see why: It was simply too much fandom for most people to take. But what made the TLC special work — and what separated it from the network’s other recent programs, like Virgin Diaries — was that it didn’t feel like anyone was being exploited or mocked. The show was set up so viewers would root for these socially awkward people to find love — and I did.

In the first of the two episodes we were introduced to Sal, a 23-year-old who works at GameStop and loves Iron Man. So much, in fact, that he spent $200 on eBay for a pretty awesome Iron Man costume — which, naturally, he wore to the event. Also at the event was Kelly, a Harry Potter enthusiast who showed the cameras her Potter bedroom shrine. A little intense, sure, but Kelly definitely came across as a sweet, likable, slightly awkward lady who I was definitely rooting for (and not just because Potter is my fandom of choice).

At the event, Kelly was totally crushing on Iron Man, but Iron Man proved to be quite the hot commodity. Turns out Robert Downey Jr. isn’t the only one that costume is working for. Sal hit it off with Mary, a fellow nerd who volunteered that she was wearing Iron Man underwear. As you saw from the trailer, we also met Gerald, who can and does speak Wookiee. Even by Con standards, he was pretty extreme.

The event worked like standard speed-dating, with 30 three-minute dates. Afterwards, you rank who you liked, and any matches got a second meet-up. Unfortunately, some people don’t get any matches, and they are shown the door. Despite some heavy Chewbacca flirting with one seemingly interested young lady, Gerald left alone. Heartbreak: No one’s immune. Kelly lost out on Iron Man to Mary, but did go on a date with one of her other matches.

Despite the sadness of watching some of the geeks walk away alone (What can I say? I was invested!) it made way for part two, where you got to watch the cameras follow them on their first dates. To me, here is where the show justified its existence and showed why Sci-Fi speed-dating was a fantastic idea: When you’re that passionate about something, it’s a huge part of who you are. Watching them excitedly discuss specific fandoms —Trek vs. Wars, the intricacies of the Iron Man costume, rereading Half-Blood Prince — as their first date topics, you realized why nerds almost have to date other nerds.

As one participant explained, they need to be with someone who understands working on an elaborate costume for hours at a time, and rather than making fun of them, be totally onboard. They want to proudly let their geek flag fly from day 1, and Sci-Fi speed-dating seemed to allow them to do just that. In the second episode, we met Anna, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fanatic who explained to the camera, “Basically, I want to find somebody who’s as weird as me, but not so weird as to be a serial killer.” In one succinct sentence, Anna pinpointed the dream. May the force be with them all.

PopWatchers: Who else was rooting for some nerdy love? Did you think it was a fair representation? If it becomes a series would you continue to check it out?

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