While the laugh track of the live studio audience will irritate anyone watching this show to no end, the portrayal of women in its first season would have women rights activist suing all the life out of the show, the mistaken pop culture references every now and then and the feeling that Hollywood has once again taken a shallow look at a long and evolving culture can make people rethink that The Big Bang Theory is really not a show that portrays nerd culture properly, it also cannot be denied that it has gotten a lot of things right more than it got things wrong.
Under those circumstances alone, The Big Bang Theory has won the hearts and viewing pleasure of many people the world over. Within the last season alone (season 6) the show had an approximate of twenty million viewers. This does not include its other seasons where the show started with a measly number of nine million viewers to its current state.
There are many other comedy sitcoms out there that do highlight nerd culture and while an argument can be made for them, The Big Bang Theory still wins by a landslide by the way it was made. It takes on the way people look at what society calls “nerds” and places it on the table. Without flinching, the show gratifies all that is great about the culture and laughs at the absurdity of it without demeaning it in any way.
As such, there is no doubt in my mind that The Big Bang Theory is the best comedy – sitcom out there that is based on nerd culture.
There are many ways to show the fact that the Big Bang Theory does win hands down. Looking at it from being awarded, the first season had nominations best actor in a comedy series, best actress in a comedy series and best comedy series in the 1st EWwy Awards held in 2008. In 2009, it was nominated for numerous awards under numerous award giving bodies such as the during the 61st Emmy Awards (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Art Direction in for a Multi – Camera Series), the 25th TCA Awards (Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, Individual Achievement In Comedy, winning both) the Satellite Awards of 2009, American Film Institute (10 Best Television Program of the Year) and once more during the 2nd EWwy Awards.
It doesn’t end there as by 2010, the show now received attention from the 36th People’s Choice Award and the Teen Choice Awards. It also made an appearance in the 62th Primetime Emmy Awards now also nominated for Outstanding Makeup and Outstanding Technical Direction in addition to the other three nominations it received the year before. By 2011, it was also recognized and nominated in the category of Best Series – Musical or Comedy in the 68th Golden Globe Awards.
Of course awards can sometimes be given to someone that doesn’t really deserve them and more often than not, people have many varying reasons why they love or hate a show. In this case, the Big Bang theory is lauded for a number of different issues. These issues include the character’s moms, the most vocal being Howard Wolowitz’s (played by Simon Helberg) mother. It doesn’t end there however as Sheldon Cooper’s (portrayed by Jim Parsons) mom can be seen as directly opposite her son who (if possible) would deny being human.
These different portray of different types of mothers of a group of men who are considered to be above the natural level of intelligence gives the show spice in a sense that, despite being nerds, these men are more human than what you’d expect.
Another reason why this show can be argued as the best comedy is in the friendship of Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali (played by Kunai Nayyar). In this relationship we see the fact that despite the different fields of study these men major in, the diversity of their backgrounds, and the similarities between them, these two men (or an argument can be made for boys) exibit a relationship that can be paralleled to being childhood friends. In a sense, these two remind us that feeling you get whenever you see an old friend, despite the fact that these two characters haven’t known each other all their lives; something that not every show can claim to have done.
The games that these people play within the show itself also exhibit another reason why it is one of the best that portrays nerd culture. The most famous being rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock. It cannot be said that everyone who watches the show intimately will know the rules (I myself having problems remembering them) but the mere fact that such a game exist within the show highlights the fact that these brilliant characters really do live in a world that they can claim to be their own, and that’s not including the fact that the game makes a pop culture reference to the influence of Star Trek to the culture of nerds around the world.
The taste in fashion of these characters can also be used to show how deep the show is in nerd culture. How many episodes have we seen where Sheldon is walking around in t-shirts with the symbols of Flash, the Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern and many more? In relation to this, comic book debates are also prevalent in the show as well. Debate’s about “who can pick up Thor’s hammer”, the “Kryptonian skin cells”, Wolverine’s claws and many others where actual comic books are cited as their sources can be considered priceless for someone who actually reads them and knows the fact that these people are actually citing correct sources.
Once again in the line of fashion, the show actually takes the time and effort to bring out the best costumes from different shows, movies, comics and videogames that every self-proclaimed nerd should know. From lines such as “that how we roll in the Shire” while they were dressed as the Hobbits, the suggestion to form a line as they all showed up dressed as the Flash, being trapped in the desert dressed as a landing party from Star Trek: The Next Generation and many more. The show does it’s best to cover every aspect of the Nerd Culture in the costumes that its characters wear.
Of course when looking at characters, one of the reasons why people actually watch the show is none other than Sheldon Cooper himself. His eccentricities, his overabundance of confidence and his utter lack of understanding in sarcasm and innuendos are a staple of not only the show but of nerd culture itself. Granted, he might actually be one of a kind in the combination of his characteristics, but it cannot be said that these characteristics are prevalent in nerd culture, it just so happens that Sheldon’s got all of it.
Another great aspect of the show is in the evolution of the female cast of characters, most notably Penny (no last name revealed yet) and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. Penny started off as an eye candy, the type of girl you’d expect to have stepped on the geeks and nerds of her high school and exclusively dated jocks and muscle heads to someone whom the audience can actually like for more than her looks but because she really is a genuine person with a number of strengths and flaws. Amy in turn supposedly embodied the female nerd (kind of like Sheldon) but this is fortunately not true in any way. Yes she does have her own list of eccentricities but beyond that, she is no closer to Sheldon than the amount of light the moon gives compared to the sun. The fact that she is actually in a relationship with Sheldon Cooper is a win in itself.
While the show has done a great number of things right this right, it does have some faults of its own that I myself find irritating. As stated about the laugh track could use some help. The fact that it comes from a live audience one exuberates the feeling of how low a few jokes fall. The messed up references coming from the over use of certain references is also a fault that any respecting nerd cannot fail to see. Defending this point is the fact that with a show that covers a developing and evolving culture that began when people decided that even intelligent men can have fun, it is not possible that you’ll get everything right.
Another point that can be argued brings down the show is Sheldon as well. As stated above, Sheldon is basically the nerd culture personified and as such whenever his eccentricities are beyond life at certain moments, they cannot be helped as this is when the show pokes fun of the nerd culture.
The show truly brings out the best and worst in every nerd that watches it. For one, some may feel like the show does not portray nerd culture well, for others it does its job quite well despite criticism and the occasional misstep. As seen, despite the number of complaints from people who find the show redundant every now and then, it still pulls off rather spectacularly in many other fields of criteria to the point that from the moment of its conception, it already started garnering awards, nominations and attention.
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