The Big Bang Theory is not a show for “Nerds”
I can’t stand TBBT. And it’s not because I didn’t give it a chance. Since coming back to Vegas, I’ve been living at home with my dad and his girlfriend, saving up to move out. They both love TBBT, so it’s on constantly. Or rather, when she moved in, she liked the show, and well, my dad watches it with her. So I now watch about 4-5 episodes a week while I’m sitting on the couch, working on stuff and trying to be sociable instead of hiding in my room.
It’s still not funny.
I have a lot of nerdy hobbies. I watch cartoons and anime, I read and collect comics, I’ve got a decent figure collection, I went to school to study how to make video games, and more. I revel in the pursuit of knowledge, and am hungry to learn more (however, totally don’t want to do more homework. Learning, yes, homework, not so much). I could be any of the lead characters outside of Penny. And yet I’m not. I’ve got friends reminiscent of the lead characters, and watching this show is just painfully sad.
One of my favorite critical pieces has been this tumblr post, which does truly resonate with how I feel. It’s so very clear, after watching more and more of this show, that this show laughs at me, at my friends, not with us. This is a show about nerds, not for nerds. My friends, family, and coworkers that watch it say “oh, it’s not that bad” or “but it’s so much funnier when you understand the jokes!”
Yes, it is that bad. No, it’s not funnier because I understand it more. It reminds me that the things I enjoy, the things I get excited about, the things I do understand, are to be mocked and laughed at. Those things aren’t normal. Those things are weird.
The mass audience to this day will relate to Penny far more than any other character. The social norm, attractive yet an idiot. They feel like her when they don’t understand something other characters have said or done. And even if an explanation is given (which is usually is), they still don’t quite get it. Or even if they do, they will still resonate with her over Leonard, or Raj, Howard or Sheldon, or even Bernadette or Amy. But who am I, or my friends, or the crowd that is nerdy, supposed to relate to?
And understanding the jokes and references they make? There’s still a painful explanation that has to be given to Penny/the audience for them to understand it. One instance that really stood out to me was the guys going to get Stan Lee’s autograph, and Sheldon wanted him to sign a Batman comic. Now, the other guys are naming off works Stan Lee actually had something to do with, like vintage Spiderman and Fantastic Four. When Sheldon said this, there wasn’t a giggle from the laugh track. I immediately thought “Stan Lee is a Marvel guy, and Batman is DC.” It wasn’t until one of the others, I think Howard, said “but Stan Lee didn’t work on Batman” was there laughter.
Don’t get me started on the portrayal of women in this show. We’ve got our airhead Penny, who seems good-natured enough, but is an idiot; Bernadette, the closest thing to a “hot nerd girl” this show has; and Amy, a disappointingly sad female Sheldon with less clearly autistic tendencies and more just general awkwardness. These are all we as female watchers get. And I’m just supposed to be okay with this? That I get bad stereotypes that all still get lumped together as the women of the show, still being less nerdy than the men? Even Amy?
Somehow I’m truly to believe in one episode that the comic shop was the last bastion of males? That it was a huge deal for them to go to the comic shop? Are you fucking kidding me? Every comic shop I’ve been to, across the country, and a couple in Canada, always had at least one female on staff while I was there. And of course, a variety of customers of all genders/races/what have you. Yet I shit you not, a preview for an episode was along the lines of “the girls head into the last male only place: the comic shop.”
Worse yet is this idea that the main crew doesn’t know how to function in a relationship because of their “nerdiness”. NO ONE WHO HAS NEVER EXPERIENCED A RELATIONSHIP KNOWS HOW TO FUNCTION IN ONE. HELL, EVEN IF YOU’VE BEEN IN ONE BEFORE, YOU DON’T NECESSARILY KNOW HOW TO FUNCTION. My previous boyfriend was a very intelligent man I met in college, dual majoring in Computer Engineering and Game and Simulation Programming, with a minor in Physics. He liked to read comics and watch anime and play video games and tinker with robots. He was a lover of craft beers and a great cook. He was in rather good shape, and worked out often. We had classes together, did D&D campaigns together, argued about Wolverine together. I was his first girlfriend, his first kiss. He was 22 at the time. Damn straight he was awkward at times: he had no previous experience to go off of. Many women he asked out would turn him down BECAUSE of the reasons I adored him for. “Oh no, a guy who is pursuing multiple degrees and reads comic books? Too weird for me!” What kind of fairness is that?
I don’t understand the appeal of this show to people like me. People who don’t share similar hobbies or tastes as me, sure. They always laugh at nerds, this is a more socially acceptable form of such. But for my coworkers (I’m a programmer by the way) and my friends, and my parents (my dad being the reason I’m into as much as I am) to tell me I’m wrong, and that this show is great? No. It’s not. It’s laughing at you, at me, at us and others like us. Never with us. We never laugh with Sheldon. We never sympathize with Leonard or Raj or Howard. We only laugh at, and feel pity for.
If you’ve ever seen a clip of the show without a laugh track, it’s hard to determine where the jokes actually are. I don’t hate laugh track shows; I loved the Drew Carey show and How I Met Your Mother. But this is a show where the reliance on the laugh track rather than actual comedy is high. Check out a clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKS3MGriZcs
So, fuck you, TBBT. Fuck the horse you rode in on. Fuck your merchandise being in comic book stores and online at places like ThinkGeek. Fuck you being at Comic-Con (although fuck Twilight for being there too, but that’s for another time). This show only serves to propagate the idea that intelligence should be mocked. That hobbies outside the norm should be ridiculed. That nerds are more awkward when it comes to relationships. That if you’re a “nerd”, you only belong with other nerds. That society recognizes your brilliance and your uniqueness, but will still find a way to make you feel like the inferior one.