The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 71.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Interview: MIT Alum Plays the ...Geek...

Herman Discusses Role on ...Beauty and the Geek...

By Jillian A. Berry

Matthew A. Herman

“Beauty and the Geek”

Wednesdays at 8pm on the CW

On Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007, the third season of “Beauty and the Geek” premiered. One of the “geeks” is MIT alum, Matthew A. Herman ’06. As he is still living in Boston, I was able to sit down with Herman to discuss what it was like being on the popular show.

The Tech: What was your major at MIT?

Matthew Herman: I was course 18.

TT: What made you decide to audition for the show?

MH: It was kind of like a joke at first. The summer before last – I lived at Theta Xi, and we had this list for random stuff – one of the guys from the house forwarded this e-mail to us . . . from the casting people from “Beauty and the Geek,” and he changed the title to “I nominate Matt Herman.” I was like that sounds like fun, but the day they were doing their casting call in Boston I couldn’t go. But the following December, I watched the show and it was a lot of fun. Then, the following April, it was my senior year, and I had just finished with a lot of job interviews, I was walking around campus and I see these flyers up casting for season three. I went back to Theta Xi and other people had seen the flyers as well. So two other people went with me, and it was a lot of fun. I just kept on getting called back and called back and called back and got on to the show.

TT: When you got selected for the show were you thinking “wow, yes, I got on the show” and at the same time, “oh no, I got on the show?”

MH: Definitely. I knew I was really happy that I was cast because it’s kind of an accomplishment. It’s almost similar to getting into some prestigious school or whatever – there are lots and lots of people who try out who are all very qualified, but for some reason they chose you – so I was really exited about that. Though it looks like the premise of the show is going to make the beauties and the geeks look like there’s something wrong with them, but they’re actually really nice to you on the show, and they make everybody look reasonably good. But at the same time, you’re obviously wondering what you’re going to look like, how is this going to influence your life.

TT: Did you feel that you were portrayed accurately?

MH: I feel, to a certain extent, it’s accurate. There are obviously some inaccuracies. When there are 16 people and you have two hours to show them, each person doesn’t get very much time. So obviously they’re creating a story that’s going to be funny and going to be a good show. I was very happy with the way I looked. . . You have to be very careful on the show, and this was something I wasn’t expecting. They want to make you look a little geekier and stuff. It’s for the show and it makes sense. They want you to compare things . . . and it starts to get very hard when they want you to compare things to something mathematical, and you have to make what you’re saying about something mathematical very funny, but at the same time also accurate so you don’t look like an idiot.

TT: What did you learn from the experience?

MH: A lot of the stuff I learned from the experience I can’t tell you because it’s behind the scenes things. I always loved watching TV, so the main thing that I learned is how TV is made; how reality TV particularly is done, but also what it’s like to be on a show and after the experience what it’s like to have been somebody who was on a reasonably popular show. Obviously “Beauty and the Geek” is not like “Desperate Housewives” or “Grey’s Anatomy”. . . I think one of the coolest parts of the experience is just seeing a lot of girls who aren’t dumb – they’re not dumb at all, and I think this season they’re not even portraying them as being morons, they’re actually incredibly smart – they just have incredibly different priorities. It shocks me how these people were in reasonably good colleges, but several of them dropped out. Others who now have degrees, but don’t have steady jobs because they’re modeling or doing whatever, or could be doing some very cool things, but they’re working in bars instead. I was baffled by that. They were great people, and half of them were more articulate than the guys. They were amazing speakers, they dressed well, they looked good, they didn’t say stupid things more than any of the rest of us, and that’s something that I’ve never seen before.

TT: Do you think you’ve improved your social skills by being on this show?

MH: I think I improved my social skills while I was at MIT. I don’t think I went in there concerned about my social skills. Going into situations where there are a whole lot of new people, and meeting new people, it’s something that’s very tough for me. I think the show helped a little with that, but not that much, it only forced you to do it because if you didn’t get to meet the people, you were going to be at a disadvantage.

TT: The show portrays the “geeks” as having problems with confidence when it comes to women. Do you think you are more confident around women since the show?

MH: Maybe a little. I don’t really feel that I was ever uncomfortable around women. I don’t date very much, but that’s more of a priority thing and not really wanting a commitment thing, than anything else. A lot of my friends are girls. I have no issues talking to girls. On the show you’ll notice that there was no problem if I needed to talk to a girl. The girls, I liked them a lot. Sheree and Erin were my favorites, and there was nothing wrong with approaching them and talking to them. They’re nice people too. Maybe it encouraged me more to go up and maybe go out on dates with somebody but other than that, it didn’t really.

TT: Obviously you can’t tell us the outcome, knowing what you know now, and based on your experience, would you do it again?

MH: I’d definitely do it again. I had a great time. It was a huge amount of fun. It was an experience that most people don’t get a chance to do, and I think it’s very important for everybody to do some things even if it’s at the expense of making a fool out of themselves. You never know how you’re going to look, and you’re never going to know what’s going to happen. So much of this show depends on your partner, how you and your partner are going to interact. So much of the show you don’t have control over so you need to go in there knowing that you might not come out looking the best.

Matthew Herman will be watching the next episode of “Beauty and the Geek” tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007) at 8pm in 4-270. A Q & A session will follow the show.