In 8 seasons, The Big Bang Theory has become one of the most successful sitcoms in the modern era. Whether you agree with how the showrunners have handled nerd culture or disagree (most people do, and viewing the series from a critical perspective, it cannot be ignored how different nerd culture is in real life) the show will be around for decades to come thanks to syndication on cable television. besides the writers not understanding what it means to be a nerd, the stereotypes associated with nerd culture is highly exaggerated to the point that its borderline insulting how nerds are portrayed here. Nerds come in all shapes and colors, they aren’t selectively mute or 20 plus years old and living in their parent’s basement or socially awkward in normal everyday situations.
The reality show Beauty and the Geek exploited this same concept that paints both types of people in a superficial and materialistic manner. It’s not a humane way of writing characters and will ill also alienate an entire market of people who this show is geared toward. The Big Bang Theory has always been geared toward the general audience who will ignore the arrogance and pretentious nature of the show’s version of nerd culture and instead use rose colored glasses to see around it.
Science wise, I cannot speak on as an expert but to me the science is handled in a more mature manner, making it come first in the group’s lives. It sounds as if Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and Amy (Mayim Bialik) (An actual scientist) know the science their characters are experts in. Sure, it sounds smart when each character goes on a scientific tangent and the actors and actresses do a phenomenal job at pronouncing the hardest words without breaking a sweat or looking like they are reading whats on the script but only a handful of people can speak on the fact of it all.
And then there’s Penny (Kaley Cuoco) the token average ‘blond’ character that has been a part of the group since season 1 episode 1. Aside from the characters lack of brains, her character has come a long way assimilating into the group at the request of her now fiancé Leonard who never relented in his quest for Penny’s love. Season to season, not much in development changes for each of the main characters – season 7, Sheldon was given a big push in development, same as Raj and season 8, it’s Penny’s turn. Showrunners and creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady get Penny out of the Cheesecake Factory and into a career (how many countless times did she say she hated being a waitress and how many times did the group say she was a horrible one).
Over the course of the series new characters go from a cameo role to a reoccurring guest to the main cast. This season, Stuart (Kevin Sussman) goes from lowly comic bookstore owner to a main companion to the group. Losing his store to an electrical fire, Stuart became an aid to Mrs. Wolowitz (Carol Ann Susi) (who’s voice is heard often but her face has never been seen) replacing Howard as the son figure in her life after Howard marries Bernadette and moves out.
Since season 1 the main draw behind The Big Bang Theory has been about the relationships between the characters. Some are extremely toxic and stereotypical but over the course of the series, the relationships are the most crucial aspect to keep watching for this long. And for how this series started up to this point, these characters will either be loved or hated well after the series finishes and the actors/actresses move on. Earlier seasons had some characters be unbearable to listen to or watch whenever they had any dialogue because of the personality traits associated. Sheldon is notoriously arrogant and may be on the autism spectrum from his ticks alone – Knocking on a door three times while saying the person’s name isn’t normal behavior but the writers sure like to poke fun at anyone who may have OCD. Having every character be morally attacked because he’s a genius only adds to the characters narcissism. And for constantly preaching that the group has been bullied throughout their lives, they can sure give it right back, looking down on a character if they are remotely anything less than a genius.
Tragically, season 8 suffered the loss of Carol Ann Susi who passed away from cancer. The writers honored her loss through Howard who finally gained appreciation for his overbearing mother. As much as she was Howard’s mother, the character impacted each member of the group in different ways and her voice will be missed when involved in screaming fits from the other room.
Season 8 of the show certainly pushes characters to the point of no return, creating new obstacles to overcome. If you can go back to season 1 and tell Sheldon that he would one day care so much for another human being to the point that he would propose marriage to her, I don’t think anyone would think its plausible, but it is. in his deep-rooted personality that will have to wait as in the season finale, Amy breaks things off with Sheldon – a plot line that should have happened seasons ago but necessary for the characters future together.
Howard finally took the hint and stopped bragging that he’s an astronaut, at least until he learned he has a half-brother named Josh (Matt Bennett).
The past few seasons the dialogue has been more off target than on. Topics of discussion have steered more toward sex and crude humor than what the series promised. To be fair almost every sitcom has the crude humor that rarely fits into the culture and almost always has the laugh track behind it since most of the jokes aren’t that funny. Even more, instead of celebrating the inclusion of nerd culture, the show focuses more on character shortcomings and insecurities as it had since the series premiered. Again, most of it is accompanied with a laugh track as if the writers are saying these insecurities aren’t to be taken that seriously with an accompanying joke that ruins any emotional breakthrough someone may have.
For as much that’s wrong with The Big Bang Theory, there is no denying its success within the mainstream. As the main cast grows, the opportunity to see characters grow is treated the most maturely. Putting them in situations they fear helps to break the stereotype one episode at a time but there is still much more ground to break. Let’s hope that next season the show finds its identity again.
Created By: Chuck Lorre & Bill Prady
Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, & Kevin Sussman
Where to Watch: Syndicated TV and HBO Max
Release Date: Episode 1 – September 2014
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
My Score: 3 out of 5