The Big Bang Theory has become one of the most watched comedies in the world. What makes it different from other sitcom is that it isn’t about good looking “cool” people. Rather, the main stars are four grown men with a love for “geeky stuff” like science fiction, video games and comic books. Yet, even though these things aren’t considered really sexy, lots of people still tune in to watch their adventures.
Still, the show has a lot of detractors. Oddly enough, the people who really hate the show (not just dislike it) are the people who are supposed to identify with the main stars: geeks and nerds. Most of their hate is normally directed on the fact that a lot of the humor is aimed at Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj; we generally laugh at them rather than laugh with them. They’re nerds and do nerdy uncool things so we should laugh at them! And, by relation, the show is ridiculing people who identify themselves as nerds and geeks.
While I understand this point of view (and I do agree with it to a certain degree), this hasn’t turned me off from The Big Bang Theory. I still love the show and I still find it amusing even though I know it’s supposed to be making fun of me.
From my point of view, I can still laugh at all the characters since they are overblown caricatures of nerd culture. And I personally know, from experience, that I am all of those things. I can see a bit of myself in Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Leonard. They may be exaggerated versions of the different parts that make me who I am but I can still see it and I empathize with what they go through.
First off, we have Sheldon Cooper, the nerd who feels he’s superior over others. He has an IQ of over 180 and loves to laud his knowledge of trivia over others. Well, I’m like that and I think anyone who has an edge over other people feel that way sometimes. In fact, us geeks do it all the time! When a casual fan asks us how can their be both an old and a young Spock in the reboot films of Star Trek, why, we’re ready to explain it to them!
Take the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones. The “nerds” who read the book knew it was coming. So, what did they do? Record their “non-nerds” reaction to it, of course! Why? Well, they knew what to expect and they were ready to post their reactions to YouTube. Now they know why we were so sad 13 years ago!
Let’s move on to Howard Wolowitz, self proclaimed ladies man… who didn’t have much luck with women until he met his future wife. He would try different techniques to get girls to like him but they wouldn’t work since, well, he’s not what you would call handsome in the traditional sense. Still, I can identify with the “desperation” he must feel. Trying to meet women in general is difficult, especially if you haven’t got that much experience with them.
While Howard does have the confidence to try to talk to women, his best friend Raj Koothrappali can’t even talk to women unless he has some form of alcohol in him. We’ve all been in his position. I think everyone has had, at one time or another, felt intimidated talking to a woman he wants to get to know.
Finally, we have Leonard Hofstadter. He’s eager to please Penny, his hot next door neighbor, and has shown to be insecure about his nerdy personality. He wanted to give up his action figure and comic collection at one time when Penny said it was extremely childish of him to still do that.
Although Sheldon does call her out for being a hypocrite, I can also identify with Leonard’s situation. I think all of us have been shamed into questioning our hobbies for being “childish” at one time and I understand how the “normal” people can think that. I also realized when I was questioned about it early on that loving the things I love makes me who I am… and I’m proud of who I am.
When they get together, they talk about the nerdy stuff that only makes sense to them, which I experience when I talk to people I share a geeky bond with. We share the same loves and we do debate silly things, like who could win in a race, Superman or The Flash. And these arguments can get really heated, even if it’s a hypothetical and, painfully honestly, silly question.
Does it really make fun of nerds and geeks? Well, yes. But all sitcoms do that in one way or another. It’s just that there hasn’t been a show that “attacked” nerds and geeks. Look at the Bundy family of Married with Children. A lot of the humor is also directed at them. Al is a loser who sticks his hand down his pants. Peggy is a lazy stay-at-home mom that refuses to do any housework. Kelly is the typical “dumb blonde” and Bud is a horny teenager.
Nobody complained because we knew what they were: a parody of the stereotypes. I think The Big Bang Theory ‘s main characters are huge exaggerations of what we nerds are and, if we get too carried away, we do become like them.
Besides, like in real life, we do revel in our own excesses. We laugh when we see two of our kind debate who would win, the Borg of Star Trek or the Death Star of Star Wars. We kind of find it humorous when we nitpick on the various “inaccuracies” between the comic book version of Spider-Man and the movie adaptation. We do do the things that the characters do in the show.
Mostly, I find The Big Bang Theory does show a realistic side as well. Like the characters in the show, I’ve realized that I am a nerd and a geek. I find joy in collecting toys and watching cartoons. I also know that being a nerd or a geek can be tough. I’ve experienced some of the things Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj have experienced.
By the way, the Borg would destroy the Death Star easily!
Do you like The Big Bang Theory? Or do you hate it? Whatever you think of the show, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!