Why I Don’t Like The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang TheoryOver at Wired, the Angry Nerd discusses why he doesn’t like the television series The Big Bang Theory. You can watch the video below. The problem is that he doesn’t really explain what his problem is, so I thought that I would.

Many people over the years have gushed to me about the show as if I would love it. Supposedly “smart” people would love the show because it is filled with “smart” characters who work in the high tech industry. The idea that I would like the show for this reason is very much like thinking your dog would like to watch Air Bud.

The biggest problem with the show is that the characters seem to be stuck at 13. Actual nerds grow up just like other people. As adults, we nerds may hold onto our interests, but we don’t have heated arguments about which super hero is the strongest. In my experience, none of us ever did. Those who did were generally sub-geniuses, who I’ve always tried to avoid.

The Angry Nerd makes one devastating observation about the show. Often the pop culture references are used as punchlines. So what is funny is not the line but rather the silly nerd and his excitement over some triviality. The show does not laugh with us, it laughs at us.

Many nerds never get into pop culture, regardless. To me, what defines a nerd is his total cluelessness regarding what is cool to most adolescents. So a nerd might be oriented toward science, but he’s just as likely to be oriented toward some form of art. But such adolescents stand out as awkward, not because they are more so than others, but because they are so passionate about their interests that it shows.

So The Big Bang Theory misses the defining characteristic of nerds by focusing on some of the most trivial stereotypes. The little I’ve seen of the show always reminds me of lunchtime discussions in high school rather than anything I ever saw in college and beyond. But none of this is to say that it is a bad show. It’s a situation comedy and as such I suppose it is as good as most. Which isn’t saying much. Which is what I’m saying.

10 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like The Big Bang Theory

  1. Nerds being over-passionate adolescents is about right. For the record, the nerds I knew either tried desperately to become like everyone else once they hit adulthood, or stayed nerdy and ended up in the "defense industry," where they were much more passionate about secret Pentagon programs than "Star Trek." (In Hedges’ last, he describes how the command room at the NSA is designed to look like the bridge of the "Enterprise"!)

    "Nerd culture" is hip now because Bill Gates got rich and the Tolkein movies made New Line tons of money. It hasn’t changed how we still define people by their interests, largely in a class-based fashion. The true outcasts these days aren’t nerds but class traitors; opera and art buffs who are poor, people who make duck decoys and aren’t Limbaugh listeners.

    Also any kid who doesn’t fit in with the dominant peer group; that hasn’t changed. It still sucks to be an American kid . . .

  2. It is not a nerd show-it is a geek show.

    As someone who is hugely immersed in Geek/Nerd/Dork culture, the show is fairly accurate in some of its depictions of how my friends act. Just this evening I went to a gaming store for their Halloween event (and this weekend I am attending two more events that are geek/nerd in nature while cosplaying at the second one.) It was mostly male, they all were intently focused on their games and these games were well beyond D&D. They do have fights over obscure bits of gaming/comic/Star Wars books trivia and most of them work in STEM. My friend I was visiting was horrified at my having not once ever bothered to read a Star Wars novel or for that matter, watched all of the movies or the recent trailer.

    I believe this is one of those generational things and a result of my generation being so lazy about adulting.

    • I do know the kind of people the show is talking about. It is just that I know those people from high school. I didn’t know anyone like that as a physics undergrad, much less as a graduate student. But I’m more than willing to admit that I was never much part of that culture. I’ve always hung out with the writers and artists and actors. But I still think the show presents men as boys. But that doesn’t make it any different from any other sitcom.

  3. What about The IT Crowd? I mean, might have the same probably as the protagonists are presented as children (or, at least, Maurice Moss whereas Roy is more of a lazy slacker) but the punchlines seem less forced.

Leave a Reply