5 reasons the Big Bang Theory sucks (and 5 reasons it's great)

The Big Bang Theory is one of the biggest sitcoms out there, it's wildly popular, but also wildly divisive. There is a rather large geek contingent that considers it insulting and stupid, not too mention it competes against the less popular Community, which has a small but fiercely loyal crowd. I happen to be a fan of the Big Bang Theory, but I can also see why some treat it with such vitriol. So here are 5 reasons Big Bang Theory is one of the worst things to happen to nerds since Revenge of The Nerds, and 5 reasons it's one of the best.

Reasons it sucks:

#5. Canned Laughter:  It is 2012 right? Who still uses canned laughter for virtually all their sitcoms? Just CBS. It's a relic and a crutch for mediocre stuff that has to tell it's audience when something's funny. Because really, how will we know if something's funny unless someone else tells us?

#4. The humor is stupid: For a show about nerdy scientists, most of the jokes are pretty dumb. Much of the humor relies on old standards like stereotypes, prat falls, and random references without much rhyme or reason.

#3: It's Insulting to us nerds and geeks: This isn't really a show about us, it's a show that makes fun of us and for evidence of this all you have to do is look at Penny. She is specifically there to react like the average CBS viewer and be confused when somebody says anything remotely intelligent and just be stunned/amused that grown men play video games, enjoy sci-fi read comics and watch anime.

#2: The characters don't evolve: This is true of many sitcoms, but it doesn't make BBT any less guilty. Raj is the perfect example. He has spent the entire show being unable to talk to women except when drunk or on drugs with wacky side effects. In real life this would cripple more than just his chances of getting laid, it could ruin his career (except in a Chuck Lorre show, where no woman is in charge of anything, more on that in a bit). In 5 years he should've made some smidgen of progress in this area, but not on a CBS sitcom, hell no.

#1: Chuck Lorre is the Michael Bay of sitcoms: Seriously, take a look at this guy's "greatest hits"-Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men and Mike Molly. Truly the picture of mediocrity at its finest. But it's also not just mediocrity, Lorre's shows all pretty much look the exact same, and he just seems to have a really weird and negative attitude towards women in general, this shines through the most in the truly awful Two & Half Men, but you can see plenty of it in Big Bang Theory. Amy Farrah Fowler is possibly the smartest character on the show, but nearly all jokes she's involved in are about her possible lesbian attempts with Penny. And speaking of Penny, does anyone know her last name? Oh I guess the primary female on a Chuck Lorre show doesn't get one.

Ok, enough with the negativity, after all I actually really enjoy the show, and here's 5 good reasons why:

5. There is smart humor: Yeah there are some dumb easy jokes, but there's a ton stuff only nerds will really appreciate. Like the various made up games, the huge amount of references to sci-fi and geek culture in general and the random comic book debates are all things that nerds love and will laugh hysterically at and the average viewer won't have a clue why it's funny.

4. Great Nerdy guest stars: Who cares about Wil Wheaton, the whiny kid from Star Trek being on Big Bang Theory? I sure as hell do. The list of geek-approved guest stars runs the gamut from pretty well known icons like Leonard Nimoy & Brent Spiner to more obscure ones like Steve Wozniak and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Sure it may be geek pandering, but hey somebody's pandering to geeks, that's awesome!

3. It celebrates nerds: Yeah it pokes fun at us, but like the saying goes, if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? And while it pokes fun, it also gloriously basks in some of the nerdiest aspects of geek culture. The characters take a lot of pride in the things they enjoy, and so does the show.

2. The characters actually do evolve:While I will give you Raj as an example of someone who hasn't really changed in the course of the show, everyone else has. Howard is getting married, Sheldon is more empathetic (though he's still Sheldon) and sort of has a girlfriend. Leonard & Penny's relationship is constantly changing, which is perfectly realistic. Granted it's not on the same level as Community, but saying the characters don't evolve means you aren't regularly watching the show, but even then you can still enjoy it. Which leads me to my final good thing:

1. It's inclusive: Community is a great show, but the show and it's fans make you feel like you are being punished if god forbid you haven't watched from the very beginning or missed a couple episodes. You can't randomly watch an episode of Community, you won't know what the hell is going on. You can however, randomly watch most Big Bang Theory episodes randomly and just enjoy them. Also, much like Penny hanging out with the guys, you don't have to be an uber-nerd to get all the jokes and references, there's at least a little something for everybody. Some may point that out as weakness, that the show is too broad and not strictly made for nerds, I say it's a great step towards nerds gaining more mainstream acceptance.

Ok that's it for today, I should have another post up this weekend, until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Lawless


giantslor said...

Great post! On the whole I agree with everything, but moreso the 5 reasons why it's great.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate that the #1 worst thing about the show was the creator's contempt for women. It's the reason I can't stomach the show either. Thanks for the list.

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Joseph Scarbrough said...

As a laugh track nerd, let me correct you: this show does NOT have canned laughter... you people don't realize there is actually a difference: just because you hear laughter on a sitcom, that doesn't mean it's canned, there IS such a thing of sitcoms shot before live audiences, and this show is shot before a live audience, okay?

But, that aside, I hate this show too.

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Matt C said...

The only complaint I have is about the so called sexism issue. I've read this complaint many times before and it's bullshit. The only supporting argument for this is that Penny doesn't have a last name, ooooooh no. The fact is that in today's society, if something isn't completely tailored to women, then it's labelled sexist. The show is not about the girlfriends and therefore it should not come as a surprise they are not the focal point of the show. On Sex and the City, men are treated as either an annoyance or as a sexual target but you don't see huge groups of men crying sexism. People need to grow up. The show is more than fair towards the female characters and usually shows Penny (who I can't stand as she's a stuck up bitch) and Bernadette completely controlling and shaming their mates, on Season 6 this happens in almost every episode, and bashing nerd culture as a whole/ The idea that female characters are treated unfairly on BBT is asinine.

Matt C said...

Also there is no canned laughter, the show is taped in front of a studio audience.

Anonymous said...

i dont buy the penny character either like girls like that dont hang with grade a nerds and vice versa every time she walks in the room i'm like are you for real cbs