Enough about politics: it's time for us to come together and talk about the real issue plaguing our society: why we need to cancel The Big Bang Theory once and for all. It's ten seasons long, and we could barely make it through the first one without cringing at all the forced "inside" geek jokes, and the paltry attempts at scientific intellectualism that supposedly set this show apart from the usual sitcom.
We're here to tell you to end it. Take it out back, Old Yeller-style, and pull the trigger. How the show has managed to squeak by this long on bare bones humor, corny catchphrases, and one-dimensional characters is a mystery. We're going to tell you why it needs to be put out to pasture, and spare us the pain of its existence, once and for all.
Big Bang Theory is one of those shows that, on the surface, sounds like a brilliant premise. Think Revenge of the Nerds meets Friends and *boom* instant show! And really, how can anyone hate the show, you ask? It's a show about young scientists — supposed nerds of the highest order — living their lives, cracking supposedly complex scientific jokes. Sounds like a good recipe for an underrepresented subculture to shine, right?
Well, wrong. This show is possibly one of the most wrong shows on television, from the fake geeks the actors portray, to the jokes that, even if you're a scientist or a geek, fall short of the mark. In fact, the show feels like it was written by people who don't understand geek culture at all, and instead just took all their cues from every stereotype in the book. It's a bit like being in a room of cardboard cutouts of one-dimensional characters while a crappy speaker blares "Bazinga!" every fifteen minutes and a laugh track plays distressingly afterward.
Also, while we're on the subject of fake geeks, let's talk about real life. In real life, when you've left academia and enter the real world, no one actually cares what you've done except whoever's looking at your resume. Unless you've pioneered breakthroughs in your field, or been published in big name academic and scientific journals, no one cares. These jamokes have done neither, and yet they're all these big honkin' deals whom their professions just can't get enough of. So the show relies not only on corny, topical outmoded pop culture humor and crappy one-liners, but on this illusion of intellectual one-upmanship that goes from cringeworthy to absolutely insufferable as the minutes limp by.
Defenders of Big Bang insist that the jokes are complex, and even high-brow, perfect for brainy geek subcultures. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case — in fact, much of the show's humor is downright accessible. Sheldon and his irksome catchphrase "Bazinga!" are possibly the most memorable parts of the show, meaning the "intellectual" show's iconic takeaway is as unintellectual as it gets.
As far as the jokes about String Theory, Quantum Theory, and other science-y stuff, they're usually basic gags with "science term" filled into the blanks, since the writers almost certainly know very little about the actual subjects. In truth, the show's humor is very topical, in that it relies heavily on pop-culture references, in order to force familiar "oh hey, I've heard of that thing" laughter from the audience. No one's holding a gun to our heads to laugh, but it feels like they are, the way they rehash Star Wars and Star Trek jokes as if they're esoteric, when in truth, they're absolutely mainstream.
One of the common misconceptions about geek culture is that women don't exist there, unless it's for male consumption. One of the main female characters on the show, Penny, is constantly derided by Sheldon and his friends, since her pursuit is decidedly not of the intellectual variety (she's a struggling actress). It isn't until she magically absorbs the scientific and academic jargon the male characters throw around, and starts regurgitating it in the show's stilted dialogue, that they take her even remotely seriously. Even so, it says a lot about the writers that their narrative would frame Penny as a punchline until she somehow attains the level of intellectualism as her male counterparts.
It's not funny, guys. Most of science's biggest moments were pioneered by women, and even if women aren't pursuing a highbrow and intellectual field, that doesn't make her a joke. We're convinced most of the writers have never actually talked to or met a woman in real life, which would explain why all the women on the show are reduced to misogynistic tropes, from appearance to one-dimensional personalities.
While we like a character who is shown to be complex, nuanced, and unable to process their own emotions, but eventually is allowed to grow and change as the story continues, this doesn't apply to the show's most well-known character, Sheldon.
According to the show, Sheldon was a child prodigy with an eidetic memory–meaning he can recall everything in perfect detail, with minimal effort. He has an IQ of 187, earned his PhD at age 16, and acquired another along with a scientific doctorate. In essence, if he were a female character, this is where the flashing neon "MARY SUE" sign would magically power up and begin buzzing incessantly.
Despite all this, Sheldon Cooper exhibits social awkwardness, the inability to process the emotions and nuances of others, and all the other stereotypes media and literature tend to throw at super-genius characters. His character has sparked debates all over the web regarding whether or not he's autistic, but sparked even more debates about whether or not him possibly representing those with mental disabilities is pigeonholing actual disabled people once again. Because seriously: why is it, whenever Hollywood makes a super-genius character, they feel the trade-off must be "is a complete turdblossom because they're just too smart for their own good?" Why is this a thing that happens?
Sheldon, as a character has not exhibited any of the signs of the nuanced character growth we mentioned above, and the show (so far) is ten seasons long. He starts off as a complete lemon to his friends and rivals alike, and has since become more of the same, just with more mugging. He's little more than the writers' escape from a flat scene where they can't think of a punchline, so Sheldon shouts "Bazinga!" to end the scene with a laugh … track. Meanwhile, we're sitting there, alternating between stone-faced and cringing, unsure of what's going on because this is the one situation comedy on television with no situation or comedy to speak of.
We've talked about how the characters are one-dimensional, but we haven't yet mentioned how awful their one dimensions are. Every single character on the show is reduced to a series of negative traits and flaws, stuffed into Hollywood-geeky human suits. Sheldon is a super-genius jackwagon with a catchphrase, Penny is a neurotic plain-jane written to be drooled over, Raj is a creepy moron, and so on.
The characters could probably all be assembled together Voltron-style to make an actual, well-rounded, complex, and nuanced character, if the writers were so inclined. They're not, so instead we get this House of Wax assortment of cookie-cutter characters, a laugh track, and the same worn-out "geek" references driven into our skulls until we laugh to keep from crying.
One-dimensional characters, blatant misogyny, and misunderstanding of geek culture aside, the show just isn't funny. The jokes aren't actual jokes so much as they're the geek equivalent of buzzwords meant to galvanize laughs out the audience, like blood from a stone. We're convinced that the show has run this long and this hard, and even won an Emmy, simply because it has succeeded in cramming the most geeky terms into its script than any other show currently on air.
Seriously, the jokes. Aren't. Real. Sheldon throws out the title of a popular science fiction/fantasy show/game, says "Bazinga!" and the audience laugh track trails afterward to mask the cringing of everyone on set. The science in the show is sub-Beakman levels, and is actually insulting to the intelligence of the audience. It spends so much time trying to convince us the show is more intelligent and innovative than it actually is, the executives seemed to have forgotten to pull the plug.
Well, we haven't forgotten, and we're begging you: please put Big Bang Theory out of its misery. Do it for the future of geeky children everywhere. Children everywhere, really. Do it for us. Do it for yourself. Just do it.