‘Geek Girl’ Netflix Review: A Coming-Of-Age Show That’s Overwhelmingly Optimistic


I don’t generally intertwine my two jobs as a hustling Gen-Zer who is incapable of keeping her life together, but I’m making an exception for Geek Girl because it’s a show that centers on the fashion industry. An industry that is so remarkably unforgiving that I had to immediately leave my brain behind while watching Geek Girl. It’s how some of us felt after watching Emily in Paris. Nobody has it that easy, and nobody is going to be handing things to you on a platter that way. Geek Girl tells the story of Harriet Manners, a high schooler, whose life suddenly changes when she happens to be at London Fashion Week, thanks to her class winning a competition. She’s scouted by one of the industry’s biggest agencies and then taken on a journey into the world of all things fashion. Adapted from the best-selling novels by Holly Smale, the show smacks of pages ripped right out of a magazine from back in 2006. Though I’ve now learned that books started publishing in 2013, which makes total sense. 

There’s a feeling of familiarity in Geek Girl, an almost nostalgic sense, as it’s an amalgamation of many of the shows I watched during my adolescent and teen years. This is by no means bad; I don’t think preteens of today will find it dated or tedious; I think it just made me like the show a bit more than I would have done. Don’t get me wrong, I do have many qualms about the way it depicts the lioness of an industry, but I will admit, sometimes we need a dash of sugar and unicorns to help us get through an unpleasant day, and Geek Girl is exactly that. Earlier, I made a comparison to Emily in Paris, but this is specifically in terms of how fantasy-like the series is, and if you’ve already got that in mind, I think it becomes easier to watch. On the other hand, unlike obnoxious Emily, who is a terrible fish out of water, Harriet is actually quite an endearing character. I do feel like a protective older sister to her, almost, because it almost seems like she’s a younger version of me who simply needs a boost to make her life better, and at the moment it’s the fashion industry. 

Harriet’s a fantastic leading character that a lot of kids can look up to and find themselves in. She’s clumsy but super intelligent and very creative. She’s also an introvert who struggles with too much attention (another trope for leading ladies in teen dramas; think Gabriella Montez). She’s got a dear friend in Nat, who is just as charming, if not more. Harriet and Nat’s bond is the kind that you would like to have for yourself, especially at that age. Emily Carey is impressive as Harriet; I mean, with all her optimism, I wasn’t able to recognize her from “House of the Dragon.” And Rochelle Harrington is excellent as Nat. However, my favorite character in the show has got to be Wilbur Evans, the agent who scouts Harriet and becomes her fairy godmother. It’s hard to admit, but I suppose Wilbur’s the character that’s closest in age to me, and despite his eccentric personality, there’s something comforting about a lot of the things he says, simply because I could see myself feeling the same way about a lot of things. Zac Looker (quite the looker, might I add) is really good as Toby, and I wish there was more of him because he’s quite the outcast, just like Harriet. 

I think Geek Girl is also quite a fun family watch (speaking from experience here, my uncle was invested) because family plays a huge role in Harriet’s journey, and she’s pretty much the perfect role model. The show is also a good opening to talk about bullying and speaking about one’s unique affinities. Without sounding like a broken record, it’s like that song from High School Musical, “Stick to the status quo.” Everyone assumes you’re only good for one thing and you fit in only one genre, but most of us are a mixed bag of crisps. 

Don’t worry, there’s an ample amount of cringe-worthy moments in the show that’ll have you wanting to pull your hair out. Technically, Harriet’s head should be up in the clouds, but instead, she’s often lying in the grass, thanks to her clumsy nature. The show is riddled with tropes, like any other teen show, but its optimistic nature helps soften the blow. Also, in typical Disney Channel fashion, we hear the protagonist’s inner monologue throughout the show. See what I mean by nostalgic? Additionally, we’ve got silly little details like when the head of the modeling agency, who is an ex-supermodel, can’t stop stress-eating baked carbs, a unicorn of a father, and a fashion designer who is inflexible and terrifying. 

Geek Girl is admittedly a product of the early 2010s, and this is reflected both visually and through the script. Call me daft, but I’m not so sure “geek” has the same implications as it did back in the day, another reason why some might find Geek Girl completely unrealistic. The bullying does feel really unnecessary; however, it’s important for Harriet’s growth as a character, but it’s another thing that sort of drives a wedge between the show and today’s generation. Though these are simply my assumptions based on my 10–13-year-old cousins, a minuscule sample size. Geek Girl run-time is a welcome 30 minutes an episode, which almost seems like a luxury today. With ten episodes in the season, the show is well-paced, though occasionally slow for dramatic effect and misunderstandings. Some of the music and fashion choices are really dated, but it almost makes the show feel like it’s transported you to the early 2010s. However, I won’t say the same for the dialogue, which feels much more current. On the whole, the series is neither here nor there, but it’s still a cute show that feels comforting and delivers an optimistic message. I’d give Geek Girl 3 out of 5 stars because there’s a lot of room for improvement! 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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