An Anthropological Analysis of Unrealistic Pop Culture Geeks

Back in the day, Hollywood was all about pretty girls, pretty boys, and their pretty problems. To an extent, it still is — after all, what are we on, Season 7,500 of Gossip Girl?  — but our entertainment has discovered the tremendous value in appealing to audiences’ inner dweebs. Instead of showering misfits in pig’s blood on prom night, we’re celebrating geeks. And that’s great! Really! Who doesn’t love big brains, niche interests, and the blessing that is social awkwardness? (Don’t answer that.)

The thing is, as noble as this cause is, Hollywood isn’t always particularly adept at pulling off these social Cinderella plots, to the point where we’re starting to wish they’d just leave the dweebs alone. So frequently are today’s geeks or their metaphorical rags-to-riches plotlines manufactured in completely unbelievable ways that we’ve charted some of film and TV’s biggest offenders and made a field guide to the worst tropes. Arm yourself with knowledge after the jump.

The Quick Fix

Are you geeky? Weird? Unfortunate looking? All of the above? No problem, because all you need to get your happiness is a makeover! Perhaps the most egregious example came from 1999’s She’s All That, when — get this — all it took was a haircut and contact lenses to turn Rachael Leigh Cook into Rachael Leigh Cook. Who would have thought a beautiful girl wearing glasses could turn into a beautiful girl without glasses?!

See also: Can’t Buy Me Love (Ronald), Miss Congeniality (Gracie), The Princess Diaries (Mia)