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Why All The Big Bang Theory Hate?

March 14th, 2013 . by Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)

A while ago, I was in an argument about the Big Bang Theory. The person I was arguing with was an opinionated nerd who thought the show was bad because it represented nerds poorly. Oh did I mention that this blow hard hadn’t even seen a full episode of the show? ‘Cause he hadn’t. He was telling me what was wrong with a show he hadn’t seen. I could understand if he didn’t like this TYPE of show (sitcoms). That’s fine, that’s his prerogative. I’m the same way with those dancing shows. I’ve never seen one and I have no interest in ever seeing one. But I have no problem mocking Andy for watching them, because I’m mocking the show for what is IS…dancing. This idiot was mocking Big Bang Theory for what he thought it was, an insult to nerds. He was telling me it was denigrating to nerd culture because it was showing nerdy guys being inept in the romance department and making fools of themselves.

First off, that’s not what the show’s “about.” That’s just an element of the show. But I couldn’t even get that far in this “discussion” because this tool just kept spewing forth his arrogant words with the tone of an insufferable jerk-face who just KNOWS he’s right about everything (kind of like my tone in this blog)

The message I was unable to punch through his wall of self righteous blabber was that EVERY sitcom treats relationships like that. The guys are always screwing up and making dumb decisions and mistakes. From Dick Van Dyke to Full House to the Cosby Show to Cheers to Friends to Modern Family. Guys (and sometimes even the ladies) are always screwing things up, making dumb choices, and getting into wacky predicaments. But I’m supposed to hate Big Bang Theory because the guys who do the screwing up wear super hero t-shirts and make sci-fi jokes? That makes no sense. They’ve taken the template that people have been using since the dawn of sitcoms and added a ton of nerd friendly references and jokes…and you want me to be OFFENDED? Why don’t you go watch some “superior” show that will be cancelled by next season and just let me enjoy my award winning show?


10 Responses to “Why All The Big Bang Theory Hate?”

  1. Jesus (LoboMaloArte)No Gravatar Says:

    I’m confused, does that Bazinga mean that this entire blog post is a joke, or did you just add it because you like the show? 2nd, have you seen the way they portray geeks and nerds outside of romantic relationships? Go back and take a close look at all the episodes “dedicated” to comic books? How weird and goofy looking the patrons of the comic book shop are compared to “our heroes”, how they flinch at the sight of women in the shop, I’m beginning to doubt if the writers have ever been to an actual comic shop.

  2. NateNo Gravatar Says:

    My biggest issue with the Big Bang Theory is that it’s just generally not funny. It’s “humor” comes from the same place that Family Guy’s does in which they make a reference to something and that’s the whole joke. That’s not funny it’s just poor writing.

  3. Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    @Jesus Bazinga was just a show catch phrase to throw in at the end. And I get the thing about the other geeks on the show, but that’s just a trope about how “nice guys” are bad with women. On this particular show, they’re geeks. But it’s the same from Jon Cryer’s character from Two and Half Men to Jim from American Pie. They aren’t “nerds” but they’re just as awkward around women. My theory is that most writers had trouble getting women. If they were good with women, they’d be actors (sick burn)

    @Nate That is perfectly fine. “I don’t find this funny” is different than “this offends me as a nerd.” Just like How I Met Your Mother doesn’t do anything for me. Humor is subjective. You’re allowed to like and not like whatever you want. It was just the people getting all huffy that Big Bang Theory dares to show nerds being awkward around women that was really grinding my gears.

  4. StevenNo Gravatar Says:

    The Big Bang Theory definitely offends me as a nerd, but not at all because the male characters being inept with women. As you and others have pointed out, the show is really just a run-of-the-mill sitcom (which is exemplified in our current culture by males’ ineptness at understanding and attracting the opposite sex) which happens to center on protagonists with identifying characteristics that are supposed to be recognized as ‘nerdy’ within the larger culture (and smoothness with the ladies certainly wouldn’t fit with that).

    But being identified as a ‘nerd’ is not like being identified by profession or where you live. It is an inseparable part of a person, like being African-American or differently-abled (I think those are the current PC terms… apologies if not but hopefully you understand what I mean). It’s not something we cannot simply choose to change about ourselves, despite the fact that many of us do spend years trying to pretend that it is not who we are due to peer torment.

    In fact, recent research is tending to show that most individuals with characteristics that our culture labels as ‘nerds’ (e.g. skilled with explicit fact learning paired with an apparent lack of innate understanding of social norms) are likely somewhere on the Autism spectrum, usually in the area of Asperger’s Syndrome. And as I understand, this is even explicitly defined for at least one character in the show (the one who is also portrayed as the ‘most’ nerdy and at the same time least altruistic in order to make the audience feel that he ‘deserves what he gets’), so at this point we’re really talking about laughing at people due to fact that they have a diagnosable disorder. I suppose you think it would be the height of wit to make a show in which every character is explicitly portrayed to have Down syndrome, Schizophrenia, and every other mental disorder we can diagnose? And The Jersey Shore doesn’t count! (full discolosure: I was born in NJ and that actually hurts a little to write lol but they really did find the WORST example of Jersey culture to portray for that show, and if I understand correctly only one cast member actually was from NJ… but I digress.)

    Despite disorders (especially because it can be argued that a well-portrayed character can actually raise the profile of such disorders and encourage acceptance and understanding of those with them), when outsiders of a culture attempt to portray that culture, they nearly universally come off as incredibly insincere at-best. If, for example, a portrayal of African-Americans is written and performed by people who haven’t spent real time with African-Americans and developed an understanding of their culture, it is termed blackface and ruins careers.

    That’s not to say it is impossible for non-African-Americans to write or portray African-Americans faithfully without being offensive. On the contrary, the more familiar with real African-American culture the writers and actors are, the more likely it is that they will write or portray a well-received character. But if they fail and it is simply disgusting and inexcusable.

    To that end, if The Big Bang Theory purported just to portray some socially awkward people, rather than encouraging the perception that it is the “nerdiest show on television”, then fine. But there is so much more to being a ‘nerd’ than being socially awkward, for instance ANY positive aspects?!, especially in the area of intelligence actually being useful in a respectable way.

    By contrast, Futurama was the epitome of a show about a group of nerds, written by nerds for nerds. It was that several writers had doctorate degrees in physics and math from the various levels of jokes for the nerds in the audience (deftly inserted as to not distract from those who might not get them), demonstrating not just an understanding of the esoteric concepts off of which they are playing but a healthy respect that the audience does too! The difference from The Big Bang Theory is that simply name-dropping references does not in any way imply that writers actually understand the reference or that they expect the audience to understand it either. Those disembodied references therefore SMACK of insincerity and pretension, or at best pandering to an audience that laughs at the culture to which the references belong. If you replaced every instance of ‘bazinga’ with ‘fo-shizzle’ it would be exactly as relevant to nerds, but the offensiveness in wider American culture would become instantly apparent, and the show would be dragged off the air faster than you could say ‘my-nizzle’.

    But even if Futurama wasn’t full of such well-executed esoteric jokes, the writers were obviously either nerds themselves or understood and had affection for some nerds in their daily lives. This is apparent because despite these characters’ (including the females’) social awkwardness, the writers used the various ‘types’ of awkwardness to express situations and characteristics that nerds could identify with and find humor in without feeling put down. The Big Bang Theory on the other hand expresses zero respect, or worse blatant disrespect, for anything that is actually nerdy.

    Nerdface is not funny. It is hurtful.

    Most nerds have gone through A LOT of heartache in their life over their characteristics that get them labeled nerdy, so dredging up that pain for some laughs does not make us feel comfortable with the show. In fact, your entire rant about ‘his wall of self righteous blabber’ makes me believe that you really were talking to a nerd who was having trouble communicating his most important feelings (probably due to the idea of the show bringing up years of emotional torment for him), which is practically a required characteristic of a nerd.

    So instead of recognizing that (probably due to your holier-than-thou attitude concerning nerds) or even just trying to understand the experience of another human being, you only tried to ‘punch’ into his wall of emotional pain that blackface is okay if it happens to target nerds instead of blacks. At this point, I can’t help but wonder if you watch The Big Bang Theory because you’re the kind of person who laughs at the misfortune of those you consider beneath you, or if it was watching the show that has desensitized you to their emotional pain…

    Would you try to ‘punch’ into Mike Tyson that a show portraying African-Americans with lisps is hilarious because of their difficulty first hailing a cab due to Cabbies’ perception that African-Americans are more likely to rob them, and then because they would direct the cabbie to Madithon Thquare at Thirty-Firth and Theventh?

    Most people would not. But since apparently that is your nature, it would just make my life if you did exactly that one day and that I managed to catch the ensuing carnage with a high-speed camera. That would be hilarious to me =)

  5. StevenNo Gravatar Says:

    Correction in 2nd paragraph: It’s not something we can simply choose to change about ourselves…

    apologies for any confusion

  6. Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    Stephen…have you watched the show?

    No need for 7 more paragraphs lecturing me and making assumptions about a conversation you were not present for…just a straight up answer.

    The show?

  7. StevenNo Gravatar Says:

    I have watched 2 episodes.

    I watched the pilot and was saddened for the reasons I mentioned before. Many shows don’t really hit their stride until the second season and my friends told me I had to see the one where that nerdiest guy made a flowchart to make friends, so I watched that episode to the same effect.

    I have not been masochistic enough to watch another, from those 2 episodes (and several clips, though I’ll give you that these are out of context, even though the hurtful comments are not) have come to the conclusion that the writers of The Big Bang Theory take advantage of the fact that ‘nerds’ and ‘neurodiverse’ people are not a ‘protected’ minority in the same way as African-Americans or women because it’s not something you can see on a person at first glance.

    I’m sure if these guys lived a hundred years ago, they would have worked on the Amos and Andy radio show, and you would have thought that those ‘negroes’ were high-larious and start telling every black person you met that they sounded just like Amos or Andy.

    The fact remains that this show pokes fun at topics that are very painful for some people without any sort of attempt to actually help the audience understand the REAL people in those situations.

    Can you name another show on TV today where it is the protagonists’ single common thread of identity that is the butt of the humor through unabashed stereotyping without any sort of balance? For instance, South Park rips on EVERYBODY, not just Jews or Blacks or Gingers or fat people, and at the same time shows real pain that those people endure for their differences from others (e.g. why the character Mr. Hankey exists, even the ‘evil’ Cartman has been shown to be sad because others make fun of his weight). It does not single out a single group for ridicule, and make jokes about cultures that are generally perceived as funny by those cultures because it is either 1) true not stereotyped (e.g. leaving an empty plate at the Seder + joke about having an empty place, not about being Jewish) or 2) makes obvious fun a ridiculous stereotype itself (e.g. Cartman forcing Kyle to reveal that Jews do in fact carry a sack of gold).

    And for all the clamoring I heard for South Park to be taken off of the air, the complaints against The Big Bang Theory seem downright miniscule by comparison, and really seem to be aimed more at educating the fans as to WHY its offensive so that maybe those characters can actually be written in a sensitive and funny way, rather than simply calling for its removal.

    Obviously this is your blog and I’m not meaning to make you feel that the guy you were arguing with was making a correct or valid argument. But you did ask a question to the internet because of that argument, which I felt qualified to answer as someone who understands ‘hate’ for the show, so I did.

    By the way, well done at predicting 7 paragraphs of lecture. I would call it education or even sharing a point-of-view, but to each his own…

  8. Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    Thanks, sport. You helped me come up with. My blog for today. http://tancast.com/2014/09/24/the-big-pain-theory/

    I look forward to hearing how wrong I am about everything

  9. StevenNo Gravatar Says:

    I’m glad I could make your life a little easier in at least some respect, no matter how derisive you are about it or that it is not in the way I would have hoped.

    Now if only you felt that way toward others…

    And I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you have yet to and will not hear how you are wrong because you are not, at least not about this.

    My point that you refuse to allow for the possibility that maybe others who actually can answer your title question are ALSO not wrong…

  10. StevenNo Gravatar Says:

    Alas, I did have to point out some inferences you were took that I were not what I was implying… But I do still agree that you are, of course, right at least in your opinion that The Big Bang Theory is a funny show to you that does not cause you adversity in your daily life =)

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