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The Big Bang Theory: Or The Assassination of Nerd Culture by the Dastardly Fiend Chuck Lorre

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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.

“Doing (insert social interaction a particularly autistic chimp could figure out here) is just like (insert shallow yet delightfully quirky nerd reference here).”







             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?

“I play (Insert ridiculous card name here)”

“I play (Insert even more ridiculous card name here), and that beats your card.”

“I play (Insert random smattering of cross cultural card name here) and that beats both of those cards”

“Looks like you win”

            And that’s pretty much WOOPS FORGOT PENNY AGAIN.

“A hur durrrrrrr”

            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


            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.

Seen here having an orgasm

            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.


  • TheGreatEscapist
    TheGreatEscapist Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    My dear mother watches this show on a regular basis. While I love her very much, there is no way that she can make me watch a full episode of this series. Because she isn't here I can't explain for her why she likes this show other than entertainment, but to Mom's credit she is aware that it's a dumb show.

    My sister, who detests this show with a passion, said it best:
    "'Arrested Development' was a smart show about dumb people, whereas 'Big Bang Theory' is a dumb show about smart people."

    She also said something about the younger fans of this show; basically how it has inspired a generation of poseur-nerds who like to think they are more intelligent than they really are.

    Me, I've just given up on sitcoms almost altogether, so I couldn't care less about this show.

  • alexthed
    alexthed Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    I have almost the exact same problem. My mom loves this show - I hate it... for pretty much the exact reason this article talks about. Seriously, did anybody think the guy who created Two and a Half Men (another show my mom loves that I can't stand) would be open-minded about nerds? (And for the record, I don't hold it against anyone for liking either show. I just hope they return the favor for me.)
    Also, I don't really understand CCGs. But I'd at least research them if I were going to write about them! Lastly, I don't really understand the Asperger's issue on the show - because I don't really watch it, but I do consider that deplorable. For crying out loud, I heard Spielberg has Aspberger's.

  • richtv
    richtv Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    I love this show though I admit the writing isn't as good as it was in the earlier years. It's just funny, and I don't look for "accuracy" in my sitcoms as long as the characters work and the writing is solid. I could pick on things like the scenes in the comic book store which always seem a little to silly. It has been stated Sheldon does not have aspergers it's more that he is a severe case of ocd. I love Sheldon, he is so funny being such a control freak. You don't have to like the show, that's cool. It's one of my favorites though.

  • Skyscraper
    Skyscraper Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    I've a friend that watches this show near-religiously, and the few episodes he's shown me I found decent... but I can see your points, and I think I'd see them even more if I watched several episodes in a row. It really sounds like the kind of show that you'd get tired of after repeat views as the old jokes turn stale and nothing new is brought to the table, hence I shall just heed your advice and not get invested in this to begin with. Looking forward to seeing the review of the supposed "better" series however.

    Also, five stars for Homestuck reference. Good reviewer, best reference.

  • Infernolordzero
    Infernolordzero Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    I warned you about references bro, I told you dog... It just keeps happening.

  • Hakajin
    Hakajin Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    I don't take offense to BBT, I just find it bland and derivative (puts on hipster glasses). But seriously, the characters are so average, and those who aren't are one note (more like physical representations of quirks than characters), and the situations are all things I've seen before. I honestly don't get why my friends love it so much.

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