Serious Eats has a nice interview with Alton Brown promoting his new book, Good Eats 3: The Later Years. In it he says this:
SE: What would you say was the core audience of the show?
AB: I don’t have any idea. I never made it for an audience—I made it for me. I think the people that gravitated towards the show were smart, curious people who like to know why things happen, who were looking to understand the culinary landscape, not just get another recipe. Which turns out to be a lot more than we ever thought. The original show list for Good Eats was only 50 episodes long. We never expected to make it beyond that.
Oh come on, the core audience of Alton Brown’s was composed almost entirely of nerds. And there’s nothing wrong with that either. I’m a nerd. I’m proud of it at this point. Of course, I liked his show (even the really neurotic parts of it) and so did a million other little nerds across America. (Including my sister who adored his show).
I guess I’m just saying that there’s little point in trying to say that his show wasn’t really nerdy or appealing to that segment of people. Why not embrace the label instead of shying away from it?