Your Reasons for Hating Big Bang Theory Are Bullshit: A Logical Argumentby Meg Elison on Jan, 20 2013
My esteemed colleague Nam Le wrote an exhaustive critique to celebrate the dawn of season nine of How I Met Your Mother. Mr. Le is a talented writer and an astute observer of popular culture. However, one sentence in his otherwise unblemished treatise gave me pause.
“In January of 2013, CBS is still home to many popular comedies – including the god-awful Big Bang Theory…”
When I say it gave me pause, I mean I promptly slapped his face with my elegant leather glove and demanded he choose his weapon. Why? It’s simple. I have had it with these motherfucking haters trashing this motherfucking show.
I don’t mind when people dislike something that I enjoy. I’m really into Battlestar Galactica and anisette and steampunk haberdashery; I recognize that not everyone can share my exquisite and rarified tastes. However, people who hate Big Bang Theory supply terrible reasons for why they hate it. Here are the arguments on the internet, boiled down for your convenience:
- Big Bang Theory uses a laugh track. Guilty as charged. Like most other comedies filmed before a live audience, the post-production team at BBT uses a laugh track to “sweeten” the live sound of laughs. For its format, BBT’s use of a laugh track is normal and fully acceptable. As someone who has been in that audience and had friends do the same, I can attest that a. not much has been added falsely and b. we can totally hear ourselves, you guys.
- BBT is unfair to its female characters. As a bra-torching abortion-supporting card-carrying shrieking harpy of a feminist, I can’t figure out how this one got past me. Yes, Penny is a beautiful blonde whose primary function takes place on the eye-candy aisle. She’s also complex: a sports fan, attached to her father, a farm girl, street savvy, adaptable, and funny. Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz is a brilliant scientist with a mean streak and a capacity for vengeance. She’s also a fiercely loyal friend and happens to be hot as hell. No complaints there. Amy Farrah Fowler is the most awkward of the girls, played by a starlet in bad makeup* as the socially stunted neuroscientist who dates Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Although played as unattractive, Dr. Fowler explores her burgeoning sexuality and develops her swag without depending on a man to define it or her friends to buttress it. The female characters are a little shortchanged by their exclusion from the comic books and gaming on the show, but Penny did manage to become a complete Warcraft addict, so it’s not a total wash. This complaint is hollow bullshit from people who don’t pay attention to anything but the aforementioned eye candy.
- Some insensitive, butthurt blowhard on the internet decided that Big Bang Theory is “nerd blackface.” In the first place, the use of this term is so grossly racially insensitive that racist trolls everywhere gasped a little when they read it. Johnny Galecki wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt and making you feel conflicted IS IN NO WAY COMPARABLE to the institutionalized racism, oppression, and mockery endured by black Americans for more than a century. Moving past that, it seems that bloggers everywhere feel uncomfortable that we are sometimes induced to laugh at the nerds rather than with them. This is a subtle difference, and it’s rooted in our deepest insecurities and bad memories of being little geeks. We feel that any laughter at skinny Howard or dateless Raj is a slight against us. People making this complaint fail to register the reality of these characters’ lives. They have excellent jobs, all the gadgets they want, steadfast friends and exciting love lives (Except Raj. Hang in there, buddy.) They are fully aware of their place in the world; they revel in it when it’s good and they get to go to space and bounce lasers off the moon. They pity themselves when life is pitiable, and they move on. When we laugh at them, they’re in on it. Get your inner child out of the locker already.
I know you’re all upset. Geek has gone mainstream. Twihards choke the hallways at Comic-Con and Star Trek is new again. Big Bang Theory is us. It’s an urban tribe of geeky kids who didn’t become parents when their parents did and have to redefine what it means to be an adult. I’ll admit there are sometimes too many bazingas and too few girls in the comic book store. But it isn’t god-awful by any stretch of the imagination.
If it just doesn’t make you laugh, I’ve got no beef with you. If you hate the theme song written by the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid 90s, that’s your petty business.However, if you’re working yourself into a frenzy over the representation of geek culture or you’re trashing a show because Wil Wheaton is an occasional (and delightful) guest star, I am calling your shenanigans right here and now.
Nineteen million viewers. Sixteen Emmy nominations. Going strong in a sixth season, unlike the vegetative husk of HIMYM.
*The starlet in question, Dr. Mayim Bialik, has an irl PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. Legit.