Why The Big Bang Theory Grates So Many (And Why It Shouldn’t)
By Daniela Weiss-Bronstein. January 17, 2013, 4:35 PM CDT
Do you work at the Large Hadron Collider? Do you think it’s the coolest thing you could possibly do with your life? Then, you’re likely the physicist I met recently from CERN who enjoyed seeing pieces of his life reflected back in mainstream culture on The Big Bang Theory.
This show. It’s amazing. People either watch it religiously or hate it and want it to die. Complaints I’ve heard about the show:
- “It presents all geeks as loving comics, and I’ve never read them in my life!”
- “Comic book fans are not like that!”
- “Really? Since when do girls not read comic books?”
So, let me break the news to you. The Big Bang Theory is a love letter. The show may not be a love letter to the current you though. It’s a nod to the geek (within or otherwise) we were at 15. It’s a romp.
TV shows aren’t always meant to accurately portray reality, nor are they always meant to give over a truth or a larger message. Sometimes, TV shows are simply expressions of fantasy. Imagine being your younger self again, but with a budget and a writing staff. What would that show look like? At least one of the shows I’d have made would have been about comic books, geeks, and the math and science worlds. My show would have given me an excuse to work with Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, Wil Wheaton, and others.
Granted, my show would have featured one kick-ass girl and her crew of guy friends, but that’s because it would have reflected my life experiences. Chuck Lorre, not having met me, missed out on that particular slice of life (so very much his loss). The Big Bang Theory show is based on an idea of what life could have looked like if that 15-year old self had never matured and grown. It’s not saying that comic books and scientists are unrelatable; if that were the case, how would so many fans embrace it? People delight in it not because they are laughing at the other, but because they are revisiting a past self.
There’s nothing to be defensive about. The show loves your quirks. The Big Bang Theory‘s caricatures aren’t meant to hurt, but to let us laugh at ourselves, to shove aside the grown-up self who has learned not to tell everyone about her Batman obsession, and revel with that younger self who could unabashedly argue for hours with her father about why Batman was (so clearly) superior to Superman. So jump in and laugh. You’re with friends here, and we’ve been waiting for you.
About Daniela Weiss-Bronstein
Dani is a mom of three who dabbles in everything from tech to cake decorating. By day she writes, makes food, and cleans the house, but by night ... she has always wanted to be a superhero.