Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I saw nerds portrayed on television all the time.
Steve Urkel on “Family Matters.” Martin Prince on “The Simpsons.” Minkus on “Boy Meets World.” Sponge on “Salute Your Shorts.” Paul Pfeiffer on “The Wonder Years.” A whole gaggle of supporting nerd characters filled Bayside High on “Saved By the Bell.”
The stereotypes were easy to spot: suspenders, taped glasses, pale skin, a snorting or gasping laugh punctuating a squeaky voice that insisted on accuracy.
Band geeks, and theater dorks, and science nerds, and oh so many losers in the Chess Club. Sure, there was some variety—Screech didn’t wear glasses, and Urkel was black. But when Uncle Jesse on “Full House” imagined one of his twin sons growing up in his mother’s protective shell, and the character in Jesse’s future reverie walked on screen with a buttoned-up flannel shirt and a cowlick, we knew what we were supposed to think. (The teenager then announced to his father’s chagrin, of course, that he had been named Equipment Manager of the Chess Club.)
And I knew that these characters were supposed to represent me. FULL POST