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Glee Club, Mathletes, and the AV Club: Which Movies and TV Shows Have Truly Captured the Geeky Cliques?

Glee returns tonight (read our recap here), and hopefully one of its key strengths will still be in force: Its depiction of the high-school outsider, whose passions — singing, in this case — trump the desire to blend in with the popular crowd. In Glee’s world of spontaneous group dance numbers, the characters’ single-minded zeal for show tunes just feels real. Their looks do not: Except for a nerdy handicapped kid (the ultimate double-whammy "outcast" signifier), the cast looks like a Benetton ad. We apologize to any former choir members out there, but no glee club in the history of glee clubs has ever been so collectively good-looking. But such is the tricky balance whenever any movie or TV show tries to depict one of the brainier, nerdier, more outsider-y common high-school cliques. Whether it's the AV Club, mathletes, a yearbook editor, or a Goth, Hollywood has struggled to capture them without dipping into tape-on-the-glasses nerdy stereotyping. Let's take a look at how the various outsider cliques have fared in their most memorable embodiments.

Photo: Carin Baer/Fox