The Big Bang Theory: Nerds or the Norm?
“Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors.” - Sheldon Cooper
Curled under a blanket, fever raging through my body, and sleep is evading me once again. I flick on the T.V. Rampantly clicking through channels, relishing in the fact that my mother is still at work and unable to criticize me for channeling flipping like I am a five year old. I finally stop on TBS. A re-run of The Big Bang Theory is on. I settle in and let the smart quips soothe me, mind and body. What about this show makes everything better, the unique characters, the interesting plot, the smart dialogue? How has it managed to hang on to its 15 million viewers weekly when getting people to care about to a warlord and his crimes against humanity seems to only stay relevant for a few weeks. (Humphrey) Why are books written about? Why are philosophers using the show to teach modern philosophical principles? The shows fan ban is wide and various from teenage girls like me to men who are nostalgic about their Star Trek collectable still collecting dust in the attic, mint condition. What is the appeal? How going into the sixth season, are we as viewers still enthralled by the Penny and Leonard paradigm?
The Big Bang Theory is a television show that premiered on September 24, 2007 on CBS. (Huggo) It was created by the producers and writers of Two and a Half Men, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. Together with Steven Molaro, the three are the chief writers. The storyline details the lives of five characters; Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, Howard and Raj. (Rickman)
Leonard is a practical physicist who is roommates with Sheldon, a theoretical physicist. Sheldon’s antics are a source of humor and chagrin. Together with their friends, Raj, an astrophysicist, and Howard, an aerospace engineer they try to navigate the confusing world of women, promotions, and the eternal difficulties of being “geeks” in today’s society all with the help of their street smart, fast talking neighbor, Penny, an aspiring actress turned waitress. So why are people obsessed with this show? Why are people so enthralled by a group of misfit scientists navigating the dangerous and confusing real world? And most importantly, why is The Big Bang Theory such a big hit?
We have our heroes. We have our villains. We have our doctors. We have our flawed characters. And now finally we have our nerds. Nerds who dabble with LARP (Live Action Role Play), collect antique action figures, understand Klingon but still are accomplished in society, hold respectable jobs and even have relationships with… gasp, beautiful “normal” woman.
The Big Bang Theory falls under the sign of television and then specifically the subgenre of sitcoms, or a type of show that features the actors in a common atmosphere and portrays approximately one issue per episode and includes jokes in the dialogue. (Winzenburg) According the Winzenburg, “Sitcoms are the most popular type of programming on the most influential medium in history and have had a major impact on how we think and what we think about.” The Big Bang Theory follows in the footsteps of great sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Malcolm in the Middle.
The earliest sitcom, I Love Lucy, aired on CBS on October 15, 1951, yet now six decades later Lucy Ball continues to be a “friend to millions.” (Pinkerton) She was flawed and likeable, relatable. Lucy Ball was a housewife among housewives, we saw our mothers, sisters, friends, and ourselves in the character who dropped pan as often as the rest of us. She drew in viewers with her infectious personality and invested them in her show with silly blunders that every human suffers. My point is this show paved the way for television to be applicable in your everyday life. Gone was the perfect...
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