Wil Wheaton’s new show for geeks proves nerd culture is more mainstream than ever


Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick on “The Wil Wheaton Project.” (Danny Feld/Syfy)

“Nerds, we got a show!” Wil Wheaton exclaimed Tuesday night at the beginning of his new talk show, “The Wil Wheaton Project.” The half-hour series, which will air 12 episodes on Syfy, featured Wheaton hosting what’s easiest describe as “‘The Soup’ for geeks.”

Basically, Wheaton takes on the Joel McHale role, spending 30 minutes riffing on bad TV shows and viral videos of the week. The twist is that this will have a focus on science fiction, given that the enormously popular Wheaton (the actor best known for “Stand By Me,” Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Big Bang Theory,” depending on your generation) is beloved by geeks everywhere.

Anyway, Wheaton was likely (hopefully?) being sarcastic with his opening line: As everyone knows, “nerd culture” — from sci fi to the fantasy genre to comic books — has gone from being on the outside to completely taking over mainstream culture in recent years. And it was nowhere more evident than this show specifically targeted at so-called “geeks.” For example, a few of the topics of Wheaton’s first episode:

* “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” currently the biggest movie in the world, drawing $302 million at the box office worldwide this weekend. (Wheaton made fun of the movie’s many lame promotional tie-ins.)

* “The Walking Dead,” TV’s most-watched cable drama — which also has quadruple the viewers of some broadcast shows. (Wheaton had the Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick come on to promote his AMC after-show, “Talking Dead.” Hardwick then got the best bit of the night, launching a “During Show”…during Wheaton’s show.

* “Game of Thrones”: The HBO drama breaking premium cable ratings records left and right, dissected by fans so thoroughly each week it’s easy to feel like the odd man out if you haven’t read the books or seen the show. (Wheaton pitched new characters for “GoT” Season 5, including “Jim, the judgmental guy who has only read the books.”)

* NBC programming: What’s more mainstream than NBC dramas? (Wheaton poked fun at “Crossbones” and recently-canceled “Dracula.”)

In an interesting twist, one of the most “outsider” elements mocked by Wheaton is his own network. Syfy has several cult favorite hits but is still on the lower end of the cable TV spectrum; though the network keeps trying to combat that with projects like “Sharknado” and the upcoming “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

Wheaton didn’t hesitate to point that out, taking a few shots at the channel that employs him: “Oh, the hand that feeds me tastes so good,” he sighed.

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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