Here’s a very insightful post from the oft-insightful Tumbler-blog Shouting into the Void. I think it’s spot-on and I want to signal boost it all the way to Gallifrey and back. It concerns the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory and points out many of the problems with the way the show frames its geeky supposed-protagonists and pretends to be celebrating them when in reality it is pitting the audience against them. The author supports his premise in part by comparing TBBT to NBC’s less-lauded but far superior sitcom Community. It’s worth your time. Even if and especially if you’re one of my two or three readers who might not think of yourself as a nerd. Here’s a quote from the post and a link to the whole article:
The humour in The Big Bang theory relies on the audience siding with and relating to Penny, the character coded as “normal” in comparison to the main four guys. It also relies on the audience having a sense of superiority over Leonard, Raj, Sheldon and Howard. We’re supposed to feel like we’re cooler than them and that we’re better than them. This then prompts us to laugh at the things which make them nerdy, which stop them being cool, which make them lesser. This is done, in my opinion, to stop them from seeming intimidating. It’s essentially Chuck Lorre saying “Don’t worry, these guys may have fancy degrees, they may be more successful and more intelligent than you but they like sci-fi and read comics. They’re socially awkward and can’t speak to girls. You’re much cooler than they are so you’re still better than them.” This isn’t to say that we’re not meant to sympathise with Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard. Chuck Lorre doesn’t want us to hate them. He does, however want us to pity them. We don’t root for Leonard and Penny to get together because we think they’re a good match. We feel sorry for Leonard, we think Penny’s out of his league and we root for the underdog.