The Bizarre Excitement for 'TechStars'

A show about nerds doesn't sound that appealing

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You might think a reality TV show that chronicles 11 young nerds as they think up tech start-ups wouldn't generate much interest. Bizarrely, it has. TechStars, a show that does just that, premiers tonight on Bloomberg TV, reports Beta Beat's Nitasha Tiku. "New York’s tech set has finally hit the big time, you guys! At 9 p.m. EST tonight, TechStars new reality show premieres on Bloomberg TV." The new program sounds like the least exciting hour of reality television--again: watching nerds thinks--but for some odd reason it has at least some people excited.

Reality television often involves elicit behavior, sex, pretty people, or competition. This show has none of that. Yet Tiku thinks it's an ideal way to spend an hour.

If you think about it, the reality show format is a natural fit for a seed stage accelerator like TechStars. Like America’s Next Top Model and American Idol, you have the desperate audition to actually make it on the cast, only with PowerPoint decks instead of strutting and singing. Then once you’re in, your work is constantly being scrutinized by a panel of experts, which makes David Tisch the Heidi Klum (albeit with a filthier mouth) to Roger Ehrenberg’s Nina Garcia. But as every reality show "winner" can tell you, getting anointed by the powers that be doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the real world. 

So the show loosely fits the reality competition paradigm, but the actual substance doesn't sound all too appealing. PowerPoint presentations during precious television-watching leisure hour? No thanks.

But, these could be future geniuses at work, argues The Next Web's Courtney Boyd Meyers.

Why should you watch? I won’t try to sell you on a group of 20-something computer nerds drinking red bull and pulling all nighters. But I will sell you on the fact that Sergey Brin and Larry Page were once 20-something computer nerds guzzling caffeine. And so was Mark Zuckerberg. And Bill Gates. And Steve Jobs. And what did they invent? The companies you rely on everyday: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Pixar, respectively. Snooki and The Situation didn’t make Spotify.

Perhaps Snooki and The Situation appeal to viewers because they perform more exciting (ridiculous?) antics than a bunch of nerds. Of course these people make exciting products, that doesn't make the process fun to watch.

Even TV networks were hesitant to take the show on, which is why it ended up on Bloomberg TV, a channel known more for stock charts than juicy reality dramas. Denver Westword's Jenny An explains: "TechStars had been approached by five different networks to do a reality show but didn't want to change the basis of the incubator process.That means nobody gets voted off each week." That's right, the show could've had a little more sizzle, with those evil-yet-fun contestant vote offs, which illicit tears, competition, and hate but TechStars refused to compromise. Of course that's noble for the organization, but again: Less entertaining.

Anyway, judge for yourself. Tiku calls it "Series Awesome!" You can catch the premier tonight. Or just watch this trailer. Judging from this clip, there'll be a lot of white dudes sitting around conference tables.

TechStars Trailer from Vortex Media on Vimeo.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.