nerd-off: danica mckellar vs. felicia day
A BGS* drew my attention to Felicia Day, actress and star of “The Guild,” a web based comedy about a bunch of online gamers. It’s good, even regular folks would enjoy the humor. I mentioned to my spouse that this definitely makes Felicia Day, who writes and produces the show, the Queen of Nerds. Then my spouse said, “Oh really, a bigger nerd than Danica McKellar?” And I was like, “Yes! Well, maybe… I dunno…. geez… let me think about this…”
Turns out that McKellar and Day are both crazy nerdy. The only way to settle this was to have a rigorous nerd-off, where one compares each contender on a range of nerdly qualities. So let’s start:
- Mathematics: Both are amazingly good at math. Day double majored at UT Austin (NRC rank 23) in mathematics and music – with honors in both. McKellar also knocks it out of the park. McKellar majored in math at UCLA (rank 12), also summa cum laudae. But here’s where McKellar dominates the competition. McKellar co-authored a scientific paper on spin models with a UCLA prof, it’s been cited 10 times, and she has an Erdos number of 4. Then, to show how amazing she is, post-graduation, McKellar authored a number of best-selling books explaining math and encouraging young women to achieve in science. Advantage: McKellar.
- Mainstream success: Nerds gotta show they have skillz that killz. Once gain, Day is a remarkably accomplished performer. In addition to being a professional violinist, she’s been in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, the Bring it On franchise, and guest appearances on shows like Monk and House. But here, McKellar takes it up a notch. McKellar starred in two seminal shows of wide mainstream appeal, the Wonder Years and West Wing. Throw in guest appearances on nerd shows like Babylon 5 and Justice League. Advantage: McKellar.
- Social Networking: The new thing is social media and nerds should be deep in it. Here is where Day pumps it up to eleven. While Day and McKellar are both active online, Day crushes. Twitter followers: 8,000 for McKellar; 1.8 MILLION for Day. Holy cow! Facebook: 380k “like” Day’s page vs. 2k “like.” While McKellar has a few updates on Twitter, Day uses Twitter to connect fans and share new media. Day is an Internet phenomenon. Advantage: Day.
- Nerd Culture: Yes, McKellar will tweet about watching the Last Starfighter. But Day takes it up to a whole new level. The Guild is now a seminal accomplishment of nerd culture.The show’s a winner of multiple mainstream awards for online television and has corporate sponsorship. In my view, it’s probably one the best humorous accounts of gamer life, alongside the esteemed Knights of the Dinner Table comic. On top of that, Day spends her time moving from con to con, immersed in nerdalia, sharing photos and reaching out. Advantage: Day.
The rigorous nerd-off shows Day and McKellar tied for title of all time biggest nerd. If nothing else, I have deepened my own nerdiness through this exercise.
*Brilliant Graduate Student