The Boob-Ogling Kid Who Played Wormser Won’t Apologize for ‘Revenge of the Nerds’

Make amends for problematic nerds? ‘I think that’s a terrible idea’
The Boob-Ogling Kid Who Played Wormser Won’t Apologize for ‘Revenge of the Nerds’

1980s teen sex comedy Revenge of the Nerds has already spawned a number of sequels, including Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, and the made-for-TV movies Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation and Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love. But that hasn’t stopped Andrew Cassese, who played eyebrow-waggling, underage frat brother Harold Wormser, from pitching his own update.

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“I wrote a reboot script,” Cassese revealed this week on the Comedy History 101 podcast. “I shopped it around and had some interesting feedback about just how naughty the original was. Some people wanted to make amends for some of the things we did wrong, that we should be ashamed of now. But I think that’s a terrible idea.”

What was so “naughty” about Revenge of the Nerds that might require amends? While the original’s core story of the little guys triumphing over the campus ruling class still resonates, it’s hard to deny that the dorks of Lambda Lambda Lambda committed a few sex crimes along the way, including installing video cameras in sorority bathrooms and bedrooms, distributing the subsequent nude pictures around campus, and most famously, pretending to be someone else in order to have sex with a beautiful woman.  What Cassese has called “naughty” is what others, in hindsight, are calling sexual assault.  

Cassese justifies it like this: “Part of the appeal of (Nerds) is that you’re living vicariously in this way that you wouldn’t normally be able to in real life. Because it’s not real life, I think that makes it fun. You’re getting away with some things that are sort of fantasies.”

For his part, the original’s screenwriter, Steve Zacharias, has had second thoughts about Lewis’ disguised fling with Betty. “I regret that,” he says in GQ’s oral history of Revenge of the Nerds. “I’ve written a play for the musical, and I eliminated the rape scene. I made it that Betty was thrown off the cheerleader squad because she flunked trigonometry and Lewis teaches her trigonometry, and then before the rape scene, he reveals who he is and she wants to have sex with him. I also regret the video scene. It would be goofy enough if they just did a panty raid and played it really nerdy.”

“It wasn’t until recently that people started to point that scene out and put it in a negative light,” Robert “Lewis" Carradine told GQ. “It was never our intention to have anything but a funny scene where I get the girl.”

“At the time, it was considered sort of a switch. (Betty) doesn’t resist and scream and say, ‘My God, get away from me!’ Her first line was, ‘You’re that nerd, oh, that’s wonderful.’ That excuses it,” added director Jeff Kanew. “But in a way, it's not excusable. If it were my daughter, I probably wouldn’t like it.”

Yeah, probably not. 

Cassese, for his part, stands by Revenge of the Nerds. “There was a lot of magic,” he says. “You had a lot of great actors early on in their career doing great work. … It could have been just another teen sex comedy, which it is, but everyone who worked on it was concerned about it having heart and character arcs. The people who were making it really cared about it.” 

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