It’s no secret that Hollywood’s version of “ugly” is a bit different than most people. It’s the optics of the industry, the feeling (perhaps right) that moviegoers won’t enjoy watching “realistic” ugly people on screen. Thus, you have truly lovely and even beautiful people dressed down to look drab and boring. That includes “nerds” as Hollywood just can’t let go of making folks look great, even as they play geeky characters. For males, it can be easy to look a bit geeky but for women meant to be nerds or geeks, it can be a bit different.
So many hot women have been made to look unglamorous to varying results but Hollywood keeps going to it. Some “geeks” are meant to be a bit hotter like Angelina Jolie’s character in Hackers but others are pushed as “the normal geek” when they’re far from it. Indeed, so many of these ladies are truly hot, far more than their co-stars and the show or film trying to cite them as “the nerd gal” is frankly ridiculous. There have been plenty of examples but here are the biggest, 15 women from TV and movies pushed as the “geek nerd” but in fact utterly gorgeous and sexy as hell and how Hollywood still doesn’t quite grasp how to portray “geeks” the best way.
15. Alex Dunphy – Modern Family
It’s clear Alex gets the intelligence that skipped her older sister Haley and little brother Luke, a true genius who throws herself totally into her studies and knows she’s the smartest person in the family. They still push that but the way Ariel Winter has grown into a truly hot young woman does effect it as Alex has been developing well (Winter needing a real-life breast reduction) and the show finds it harder to sell her as the geek. Indeed, Haley has confessed her fear that her sister can be hotter than her as well as smarter and Alex becoming more confident although she sticks to sweaters and jeans over anything flashy. A recent episode had her basically admitting she was no longer a virgin with her father obviously stunned at how she could have been taken like that. Still, with Winter turning into a very hot teenager, the show has a harder time selling Alex as the geek although she gets laughs out of it and proof she’s the best of the bunch of her whacky family.
14. Annie Edison – Community
NBC’s cult comedy was a great mix of bizarre characters working together and Allison Brie was among the best as Annie. She acts the voice of sanity a lot, a tightly-wound student who really wants to excel but in truth, she’s as nuts as the rest of this bunch. They tried their best to keep her going as the geeky gal, still the high school nerd grown up but Brie’s innate hotness kept shooting every one of those attempts down. She could get into sexy situations in steamy outfits at times, including a hysterical bit dressing in a hot elf outfit to sing a Christmas song, even putting the moves on guys but it often backfired to make her more of a joke. Brie’s sexy vibe kept you going from cool resolve to ranting like a madwoman and yet another reason this entire show was a joy to see how hot this self-professed nerd could get and the wilder the better.
13. Wendy Watson – The Middleman
Running only one season, ABC Family’s goofball series was a love letter to geek culture. Natalie Morales played Wendy, an artist who’s recruited into an organization to fight super-intelligent apes, alien boy-bands, zombie fish, vampire puppets and more. While in glasses and coveralls a lot and just a leather jacket and pants at her “second job,” Wendy was glamorous all the same, a gal who loved pinball, video games and binge-watching horror films in between blasting bad guys with laser cannons. She could don some hot costumes to infiltrate a college house, battle evil Mexican wrestlers and also a great bit where a video game fight with her boyfriend leads to a steamy hookup. They even threw in an “Evil Wendy” from an alternate universe that looked extremely hot in leather. The show was a delight and sad it only lasted one year as Morales made Wendy one of the hottest geek girls alive and this show a fantastic fun ride.
12. Liz Lemon – 30 Rock
Tina Fey has acknowledged that Liz is basically her taken to the tenth power in terms of behavior but that can also mean sexiness. Most of the time, Liz is the only sane person around a show filled with egos and idiots yet smartly, Fey shows she can be as much of a mess (like how she acts like a feminist champion when she really comes off an idiot). She wears her geek pride on her sleeve with various bits (getting married dressed as Princess Leia) and more at home watching TV by herself. But while the show makes it a joke of her being hideous, she’s sexier than any of her female co-stars with that fun smile and the glasses rising her up more in hotness and amazing how she can have such a bad run of luck with guys not able to see how lucky they are to have her. Both as herself and Liz, Fey proves girls with glasses can be sexier than any supermodel and funnier too.
11. Temperance Brennan – Bones
A forensic anthropologist, Temperance grew up throwing herself totally into her studies and ignoring most everything else. This has led to her being a true nerd when it comes to science and history but completely out of the loop on most anything regarding pop culture (even after 10 seasons, we still have her going “I don’t know what that means” to a reference). Emily Deschanel sells her as a lovely presence, a woman who may know her beauty but not reveling in it, often taking sex with men as par for the course (she once balanced two lovers at once and couldn’t understand why they both dumped her when they found out the truth) and her relationship with Booth was clear from the start. It’s fun when they go undercover as a pair of outlaws or other bits and she shows off in outfits while still trying to throw herself totally into her studies. No matter the job, Emily makes Bones look amazing in it all (even pregnant) and showcasing how hot the “squints” can be.
10. Anita Lesnicki – Jennifer’s Body
On the DVD commentary, both writer Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kasuma admit that “only in Hollywood can Amanda Seyfried be the ugly one.” The plot is Anita the nerdy loser befriended by Megan Fox’s hot cheerleader but even with glasses on, Seyfried is stunning, far more than Fox which throws the plot off. The story is supposed to be Anita pulled along until she emerges as a sexy lady in her own right but Seyfried looks hot from the start and thus not as effective as it could be. The movie was a box office failure which is a shame as the actresses gave their all (especially a kiss) and how you have to make sure the geek isn’t hotter than the cheerleader succubus.
9. Nell Jones – NCIS: Los Angeles
Added to the cast of the hit spin-off in its second season, Nell quickly gelled with the team as their analyst and standing out with her red hair, pert nose and nice humor. She has shown off a bit in leather outfits undercover and Renee Felice Smith ensures that any scene with Nell is a good one as she often acts the voice of sanity amid some whacky antics and more on the ball but still enjoying a geek vibe as much as anyone surrounded by computers. She and co-worker Eric have a nice chemistry and a great Christmas episode showed her in a very revealing elf outfit for a kiss. While she hasn’t gotten as many chances to flash off as others, (although one episode had her donning a cool leather outfit to pose as an evil hacker) Nell shows brains and beauty go along well to make this series shine under the sun more.
8. Laney Boggs – She’s All That
The comedy Not Another Teen Movie wonderfully skewered how ridiculous it is that two jocks would choose Rachel Leigh Cook as the “biggest loser in school” who they bet they can turn into prom queen. Coveralls and glasses do nothing to hide Cook’s amazing beauty and that comes out with her stripping to a bikini at the beach yet the movie continues to sell how stunned characters are when she glams up even as Freddie Prinze Jr’s character tries to sell her being a sexy presence when she already is. The fact is that Cook was amazing already with her sexiness and good humor and actually looks hotter with the glasses then her prom dress and the movie smartly points out how keeping to that is what wins the jock’s heart. It’s not the first story to push the idea of “normal lady turned to beauty” but still wild to sell Cook needing the makeover to begin with given how sexy she was just walking.
7. Winifred Burkle – Angel
When she first appears, Amy Acker’s science whiz is a mess, having spent years trapped in a demonic dimension and dressed in rags while babbling constantly and it takes a while for her to get out of it. Soon, Fred was the science whiz helping Team Angel out and her great quirky humor and combat skills came quite in handy as she was the one who saved the team from the evil goddess Jasmine. While slammed by some as a “beanpole,” Acker showed nice charm as Fred that soon grew, showing off some hot outfits and a surprising heat in relationships as well as true strength. It paid off when she ended up possessed by an ancient goddess and transformed into a leather-clad purple-haired being that Acker looked hot as hell as. Before that, though, Fred was still wonderfully sexy in her own way and boosted Acker majorly as an underrated hottie.
6. Willow Rosenberg – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
From the beginning of the cult classic series, Willow was shown to be the goofy computer geek who was often in over her head, babbling a lot, carrying a torch for best friend Xander and mostly just the quiet gal. But even at the beginning, Alyson Hannigan showed off a fun charm with great smile and a surprisingly hot body when she tried in costumes like a tight rocker outfit and some others. It grew as the show went on with her showing an evil leather-clad vampire doppelganger and then a witch before a relationship with a woman that just made her hotter. Soon, Willow was blossoming into more revealing outfits and relishing in her sexy side that turned into full blown goddess at various points. They still tried to push her as the “nerdy gal” but it never quite fit as Hannigan helped the show be a hit and blossoming as the quiet gal exploding into pure sexiness and a character to remember.
5. Abby Sciuto – NCIS
A mainstay of NCIS since it premiered, Abby is the goth-clad forensics whiz and hacker whose nutty behavior disguises a genius at finding out the truth. She wins you over with her humor, her drive, always hyper yet Pauley Perrette has given Abby a sexy demeanor that makes her character hotter than anyone can imagine. A fun episode had her dressing as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween and oblivious to how guys were gawking at her looking stunning in the outfit. Yet even in her regular appearance, Perrette was incredibly hot as her mix of makeup, tattoos and dark clothes always makes her stand out. She hasn’t had the best of luck with guys but pours herself into her work and proud to call her team her family so they can have her back when things get rough. She doesn’t know it but Abby is the hottest woman on the show and high among any list of the “geeky gals” who rock the sexiness without even trying.
4. Angela Bennett – The Net
One of Sandra Bullock’s first star vehicles, this 1995 movie was also one of the first to take on the Internet culture although in a way a bit laughable to watch today. Bullock is Annie, an IT expert who basically lives her life on the computer, ordering out all the time, no real friends and just using the computer a lot. This works against her when she finds herself stumbling onto a deadly conspiracy and her identity erased to force her to go on the run. It’s a good idea but casting the lovely Bullock is a miss as the sight of her sitting on a beach in a bikini while on a laptop shoots down the entire “geek” thing and that’s before she becomes an action heroine to stop a deadly conspiracy. Bullock is a great actress but trying to be a “nerd” is a bit beyond her and shows how some folks think ladies on the computer were hotter even back then.
3. Bernadette – The Big Bang Theory
For its few seasons TBBT had the idea of “the hot chick with the nerd guys” before the producers wisely decided to balance that out. So Bernadette entered as a waitress paying her way for school and soon showed as smart and capable as any of these guys and a relationship with Howard that led to marriage. Much was talked about her “low looks” when the fact was that Melissa Rauch had a fantastic body, more full-figured but in the right places and glasses did nothing to hide her good looks and the lush blonde hair. She gets some hot stuff with her and husband’s surprising randy sex life and Benadette’s love for low-cut blouses to show off her nice chest makes her high voice and glasses look even sexier than any of Kaley Couco’s low-cut dresses. Rauch has proven herself incredibly sexy with spreads in Maxim and others and the show continuing to push her as “the nerdy chick” is yet another reason it’s so annoying despite Bernadette’s fun charms.
2. Jess – New Girl
Helping create the label of “adorkable,” Zooey Deschanel is a fantastic presence as Jess, an ultra-quirky teacher living with three guys and throwing herself into the geek presence majorly. From the whacky outfits, glasses on her nose, a mess of bad relationships and stumbling into nutty situations, Jesse is hysterical, often trying to keep herself together but her own crazy behavior just shoots her in the foot. She creates her own songs, acts like the world should be in the same vibe as her and failing to grasp how much of herself can be wrong. Through it all, the show sells Jess as a geek into various offbeat movies, books and music with a nutty style but Zooey looks amazing in any situation with her curly hair and nice build so it mars a lot of the stuff to make her a loser. Yet you still enjoy how it all works, Jess a lovely lady and while she’s a mess, it’s a hot one to make her a geek to love.
1. Felicity Smoak – Arrow
From the instant she appeared on the first season of Arrow, Emily Bett Rickards won over fans as Felicity, the quirky IT tech who helps hero Oliver Queen on a job, a bit babbling but the way her blonde ponytail framed an attractive face with glasses made her stand out better than expected. The fans responded and so she was added to the regular cast and soon a winner with her fun humor and drive, helping Team Arrow bond, her hacking skills supreme but an incredible knockout when she donned an evening dress to take Oliver’s breath away. It helped that Rickards could rise above the glasses to be a fantastic sexy presence and a heroine in her own right. She could be amazingly hot, far more than the leather-clad heroines around her and a flashback just added to it by showing off her past as a goth hacker with a wicked side that made her later transformation remarkable. She remains the best part of the show and Rickards showing how the “hacker girl” can be so wonderfully sexy.