‘Fangasm’: The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Fangasm was airing on a different network.
I say this with residual bitterness after Syfy’s less than savory treatment of cosplayers in the six-episode run of Heroes of Cosplay. As if nerds weren’t already unfairly stigmatized, Heroes of Cosplay managed to make things worse by applying a tired reality show format and deceptive editing, making the cosplay community seem cutthroat and joyless. While I’ve eased up on placing individual blame, it continues to be difficult for me to mask my distaste whenever the show comes up in conversation.
Fangasm, on the other hand? Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Fangasm is a breath of fresh air, if the first episode is an accurate gauge of the rest of the season. It follows seven nerds of various backgrounds as they intern for Comikaze, a Los Angeles-based pop culture convention hosted by Marvel patriarch and cool dude Stan Lee. Their collective job is to market the convention and improve outside perceptions of geeks. The catty atmosphere of the show’s predecessor seems to have cleared, replaced only by the natural sort of tension one might expect when you put seven different personalities together under one roof.
Happily, I can report that a comment made by intern Andrew regarding who would hook up first in the house was the only time I rolled my eyes during the hour-long episode (and one other time I discuss below, but that has a happy ending). It was likely a throwaway joke, but I sincerely hope the producers haven’t caught on and intend to make this diamond in the rough into a niche Big Brother. Even more uplifting is the bit of social awareness demonstrated notably by intern Molly. After several hours collecting signatures to make Geek Pride Day a recognized holiday, the interns duck into a restaurant celebrating geeks. They are met with three scantily-clad female dancers dressed as sexy superheroes. When the men understandably enjoy the display, Molly is incensed, calling it exploitation.
Before anyone jumps down my throat for agreeing with her, I think Molly, a feminist, was probably angrier at the establishment for promoting the “male gaze” than the dancers showing some skin. Slut-shaming is not cool, but neither is catering almost exclusively to straight male nerds while ignoring the large female portion of nerd-dom. And no, that doesn’t mean getting male dancers, too.
But I digress. The dust settled on that incident, leading into the final act, where two of the interns discover a contest to win dinner with George Takei, aka Hikaru Sulu, from the original Star Trek series. Takei constantly sings the praises of nerds, the show explains, and three interns enter the contest, two of whom are hardcore Trekkies. Intern Paul wins, with a last-minute concession from intern Sal, after holding a prop phaser up at chin-level for over an hour. Paul absorbs all sorts of industry secrets from Takei, eventually mentioning his roommates . . . then somehow, amazingly, Paul and George Takei are in a cab going to surprise everyone at the house. I genuinely don’t care if the sequence was predetermined or staged — the fact that Paul was willing to share his “winnings” really made me smile. You’d smile, too, if the helmsman of the USS Enterprise walked through your front door.
In conclusion: don’t screw this one up, Syfy. I’m rooting for you again.
Fangasm airs Tuesdays at 10PM on Syfy (in case you skipped this post entirely).