Without a doubt one of the most toxic relationships one can have in their life is a friendship with a group of people who secretly find you contemptible. This type of friend can often make fun of you while you are standing right next to them and you’ll be completely oblivious to the obvious malice and spite anyone else can detect. These friends will sell you down the river at any given moment often times to gain favor with another group. The relationship I just described is essentially the relationship between nerds and the smash hit Sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
Let’s get something out of the way here first; The Big Bang Theory does not care about nerds, I won’t go so far as to say it actively hates them but it just sees them…. And let’s be honest here , us; as something to be mocked. I can summarize every joke aimed at nerds thusly.
There I just saved you five seasons and a couple thousand brain cells… OH WAIT I FORGOT PENNY’S NO DOUBT ERUDITE AND WELL THOUGHT OUT RETORT TO SHELDON’S GENUIS CULTURAL INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE INTELLECTUAL AND THEIR ROLE IN MODERN SOCIETY.
My point being The Big Bang Theory’s writing is just plain lazy, it throws in references but does so in such a slapdash way that you never get the feeling that there is any affection behind it which misses the entire point of reference humor. If something references another thing that you love it evokes an emotional response because it makes you feel a certain connection with the writer or character. If a good reference is understood it adds a layer of understanding between the creator and the audience. The problem with the Big Bang Theory is that there never seems to be any affection behind it, they throw references in haphazardly and that cheapens the effect. The characters make dozens of references per episode and because of that it never feels as if the writers have any real passion. Overall the references just seem cheap, like it’s a shallow attempt to pander to nerds made by people who couldn’t care less about what they are writing about and ultimately if the writers don’t care why should the audience?
The epitome of laziness regarding the “Nerd Jokes” is not the slipshod reference humor but ironically enough their refusal to reference something. One of the biggest parts of nerd culture is undoubtedly the various games they… Sorry we, play and an important part of any nerd’s gaming habits is the collectible card game popularized by Magic the gathering in the mid 9Ø’s, as such it was only a matter of time before The Big Bang Theory parodied it. As a fairly avid player of Magic the Gathering myself I can tell you card games have so many aspects to be parodied, the competitiveness among friends, how personal people take it when others go after them, how much money it costs to get a good deck, ETC. Instead of utilizing any of these Shenanigans The Big Bang Theory instead chose to make its own in universe card game called “Mystic Warlords of Ka’a”. At first this decision doesn’t appear to make any sense, throughout the series the main characters play real consoles, read real comic books, watch real movies, and do a variety of other nerdy things all with the pre tense of being real things that nerds might do, however when it comes to card games they play make believe fake card games for babies? Do you want to know how a scene involving the cards always plays out every time?
And that’s pretty much WOOPS FORGOT PENNY AGAIN.
When one watches the episodes featuring the game however the reason the writers chose not to use a real card game is painfully obvious… How do I put this in a tactful way…? Maybe if I just… If I can just word this in the right… OK OK I think I’ve got it. *Ahem
REAL CARD GAMES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY AND ARE NOTHING LIKE WHAT YOU ARE PORTRAYING THEM AS YOU BUNCH OF HACKS WHO HAVE CLEARLY NEVER PLAYED A DECENT GAME OF MAGIC IN YOUR LIVES.
Allow me to elaborate. Magic and other games like it are games of strategy, it’s not just setting cards down, it’s about mind games, you don’t just set down X card and X card beats Y card, it is far more complex than that. The writers didn’t write the characters playing Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon or whatever because those have rules and structure and to write about those things would require some degree of knowledge on the subject and that’s just not something the writers want. It just goes to show how lazy the writers are and how much they don’t care about nerds so much as making fun of them and portraying them as man-children.
The characters are also one of the largest issues in the series as well, I could cover the horribly racist portrayals of comedic sidekicks Raj and Howard, or how bland 9Ø% of the cast is, or how for a show centered on nerds it seems odd that not a single recurring character is in the slightest over weight, but instead I’ll focus on the Big Kahoona of poorly written nerds, I’m talking about the face that launched a million terrible shirts with catch phrases on them, Sheldon.
Why Sheldon is bad can be summarized thusly his character should have Asperger’s and I don’t know if the writers got the memo but Asperger’s isn’t funny especially when your character who is so clearly written to have Asperger’s doesn’t have Asperger’s, and let’s work one more Asperger’s in there for good measure… Asperger’s. Now I am hardly making light of those with a mental disease of any sort I think it’s a very serious thing to live with, my conflict with Sheldon however comes in the fact that he’s a stereotype of someone with Asperger’s, the actor who plays him, Jim Parsons plays the role of a mentally handicapped genius well, and this would be awesome if the show recognized that the character has a mental disorder, instead his social awkwardness is treated as a side effect of his intellect which is in my opinion horribly offensive to intelligent people. Also the character is completely unlikable, throughout the series he constantly acts selfishly and almost never thinks about how his actions might affect those around him, and again if he had a mental disorder this would make sense, throw in some pathos regarding that mental disorder and you have a great character, but instead he’s just a jerk because… Nerds right? They’re jerks right?
Also seriously why are there no fat characters?
To be fair I don't think The Big Bang Theory is the worst thing on television, it's not even that bad really, just kind of bland and middle of the road, my problem is with the fact that much like my arch-nemesis Taylor Swift it is way more popular than it needs to be, which is especially depressing considering there are many better alternatives when it comes to the nerd sitcom sub-genre.
Now this review is already fairly long so I’m going to end it here but I’m just left thinking if only there was a show about Nerds that didn’t take itself too seriously and treated its characters with love and respect instead of malice and hate… If only there was a show like that and it was British… If only…
Yes, next week where doing this, where making this happen (See references aren’t that hard) next time Big Bang Theory Vs. IT Crowd, see you then.