I like theme songs. Can you tell?
People have been telling me for forever that I need to watch Big Bang Theory. Like, a lot of people. They say things like “Why isn’t this your favorite show?” or “I needed you there to explain that joke to me.” It’s not that I was opposed to watching it. I just don’t have tv, you guys. Yes. Still. Yes, really. Nor do I want tv, for that matter. I do have the interwebs, but apparently Big Bang Theory is one of the last shows in creation to jump on the free online content bandwagon. I finally found a website with all the episodes, but for questionable legal reasons I’ll keep my mouth shut about it. For the record, I’m not a pirate. I just stream, I don’t download, I swear. Frankly, I don’t have the hard drive space. But my birthday’s coming up if anyone wants to buy me the DVDs.
I get it now. I totally do. It’s a hilarious show. Remember Friends? Or Seinfeld? Maybe you liked them, maybe you didn’t. Doesn’t matter. Any of those ensemble cast sitcoms about a group of friends that can only function successfully as a unit? Safety in numbers, maybe? That’s the dynamic we’re working with here. But the thing is, Big Bang Theory is a little more geared towards our generation in its complete and utter geek love. But not in a pandering kind of way. The show doesn’t condescend to its audience, in my opinion. Point is, Big Bang Theory doesn’t say “Hey, here’s a bunch of geeks. Let’s all point and laugh. Hahaha.” They’re just folks, doing normal stuff – going to work, falling in love, dealing with their friends and their drama. They just happen to all be genius scientists with comic book collections and video game addictions. Who seem to eat an ungodly amount of takeout Chinese food. They’re just people, like we’re all just people. Nerds gravitate into groups for social reasons just like any other demographic. I like that about this show. It normalizes. A pop culture joke followed immediately by a physics joke and then all leveled out with a comic book reference? That’s good geekery. I love that that’s ok on primetime. In all honesty, though, that may be a chicken-or-egg question. Is our generation pro-nerd therefore there is Big Bang Theory? Or is there Big Bang Theory therefore it’s ok to be openly nerdy? Good question.
Were you waiting for an answer? Because I don’t have an answer. Sorry.
I also dig all the sciencey science. Once again I’ll admit that I’m totally lost when it comes to following those technical conversations, but I think it’s awesome that they keep it all accurate, even down to the ridiculously complicated-looking math problems on the boards in the background, a lot of which are apparently very high-level physics jokes. I don’t get it, but somebody does, and I like that the people who make the show think enough of their audience to include those fans and not overlook them. (Good on you, CBS. Never piss off the fans. Or underestimate them. Because they keep you in business. Could you tell Fox, please? That’d be great.)
On that same note, there are undoubtedly some pop culture references that I missed or that someone else would have found a reason to bitch about, but if they’re there then they’re outside of my frame of reference. Which is probably even more true for most Americans who don’t read comics or watch scifi. Although I will be that asshole who points out that when they were sitting around watching Doctor Who (sometime in season five, I don’t remember which episode) Amy called him “Doctor Who” instead of “The Doctor.” But that’s not too bad right? One mistake in million billion references over a hundred and something episodes? Could be so much worse.
I think the lynchpin of the whole concept, though, is Penny (played by Kaley Cuoco) – the non-nerdy pretty girl neighbor character. If it weren’t for her, this group of friends would just be off in their own little world. She’s the conduit between them and the audience, the one they have to explain stuff to so that the entire script isn’t just in-joke after in-joke. The Spock. The Teal’c. The one who puts things in perspective and creates a middle ground. The show wouldn’t work without her. Because let’s be real: how many times have we all said something tremendously geeky and it falls flat because we’re in a room full of Penny-types? Happens all the time. To me, anyway. I like that Big Bang Theory flips that around, makes the “normal” one the odd man out. (By the way, I’m not trying to enforce any stereotypes here – I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as “normal.” Let’s say “average.” Or “typical.”)
Oh, Christ. I really want to use this last little bit of space to go off on a rant about how hard it was to be a geeky kid in the 80’s and 90’s. But I’ll spare you my bullshit. For now. We’ll talk about it later. I actually do have a birthday coming up, so maybe we’ll do a maudlin turning-thirty-bitchstravaganza. Meanwhile, the culture shift away from that asshat bully behavior continues to interest me. Makes me happy. Gives me hope that we can get over ourselves and just let each other be whatever we want. Mean kids have no reason to pick on kids like that anymore because they’re cool. Like, really fucking cool. Glasses are cool. Computer programmers are cool. Scientists are cool. Gaming and physics and comic books are nothing to bite your thumb at here in the digital age, and I’d like to think that that’s at least partly because of things like Big Bang Theory. Because obviously if there are nerds being positively portrayed on a hit tv show, they’ve got to be ok, right? This is America (or ‘Mericuh, if you prefer). By the way that last couple of snarky sentences was all about me trying not to say “role model.” Didn’t really work, huh? Mer. Oh, well.