When I first became aware of The Big Bang Theory, I heard what it was about, watched an episode or two and… hated it. It wasn’t so much the criticism of the show itself (though seriously, a laugh track?!), but I just hated the idea, the very concept of the story.
I saw it as yet another modern production that made fun of being smart and educated. The characters are both very intelligent and highly educated and the more educated they are, the more socially awkward they appear, to the point of being borderline autistic. The uneducated (though intelligent) characters on the show don’t help either, as they only strengthen the point that if you are intelligent, stay away from any higher education, unless you want to become an awkward geek that cannot function in society.
This type of character construction does not help tear down the stereotypes currently maintained in our society, nor help bring people closer to science and education. In other words, as I said before, I hated it. And this aspect of the show I still dislike.
But despite my desire to ignore it, it has grown on me and I laughed at the jokes (though seriously… a laugh track?!) and started empathising with the characters. Than, one day, it struck me. I had misjudged The Big Bang Theory.
The Big Bang Theory brings science into people’s homes. I didn’t realise that at first, because I don’t need a funny TV show to bring science into my home, it’s already there. But that is not the case for most people. The 6th season had an average of 18 million viewers in the US alone. I am no analyst, but I feel confident in saying those are not all geeks. These are “regular” people who are now laughing at jokes involving science, nerdy topics and D&D.
The Big Bang Theory has had cameos from noble prize winners, scientists, astronauts, geek “heroes”. Sometimes when I mention Neil deGrasse Tyson in conversations, people know him from The Big Bang Theory! Honestly, I didn’t think this was possible. It’s the geeks that always try to integrate in the “normal world”, not the other way around.
Yes, I’m still not happy with the portrayal of smart people in this caricatural fashion, but I have to admit that it gets “normal” people to watch and laugh at science and nerdy jokes and become if not immersed, at least acquainted with the “geek universe”. I can give that two thumbs up any day.