After linking to a blog post about The Big Bang Theory on Facebook today, I was challenged to watch an episode from the newer season by some of my friends that love the show. So, I watched “The Weekend Vortex” from the latest season, in which the guys want to play the new Star Wars MMO all weekend.
There were some interesting parts, and I will admit that I did laugh at some of the jokes. However, I’m not sure why the entire CBS watching audience would like it. There’s no way they get half of them, so my feeling that they are laughing at “nerds being nerds” definitely seems relevant here. It reminded me a lot of when me and my friends hung out in the computer lab playing video games all weekend. Yes, we definitely had some good times and laughed a lot, but I would never expect most people that watch CBS to be laughing about our late night WoW sessions, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that they could be laughing at the nerds.
I did also get the feeling that no one should actually be friends with Sheldon, or they would have punched him by now. His character was definitely being used as someone to make fun of, and I’m not sure he had any redeeming qualities in the way he was portrayed. I’m not sure why his girlfriend dates him either. He definitely doesn’t care about her, and when they had a fight, it ended with him not having to apologizing (when it was his fault), but just the episode ending. (At least in “Everybody Loves Raymond”, they come to some kind of resolution, despite the horrible fight each weekend.)
Some of the characters have improved and seem more realistic (even if the stereotypes were dialed up to 11). The writing was even a bit better than I remember from older seasons. I think the writer of the article was definitely referring to the first few seasons, when it was much worse and more awkward. I don’t think it would be oversensitive to believe it was laughing at you or your culture back then. The current episodes are somewhat better about this.
But I think the author still makes a great point about the contrast between TBBT and Community: While TBBT may make nerd references (“Star Wars is not Star Trek” *laugh track*), Community shows nerd culture and how you can it can be something to be celebrated (They play D&D, not so they can just make jokes about it, but so they can help one of the other characters feel better about himself).
I’d want to hang out with Troy and Abed. I could never hang out with Sheldon and the rest of them (at least if they were so exaggerated). The question about could you seeing yourself enjoying time with those people in their everyday life is what most sitcoms usually about. And TBBT would fail that test for me and for most of my geek friends. Given that fact, it is pretty odd for a “geek” show to be almost universally reviled by those who it is supposed to be portraying. I think the author of the article was correct when he said this:
Why do I feel uncomfortable watching it? Because whenever I laugh at a joke, and I do sometimes find it funny, I feel like I’m laughing at my friends, like I’m putting myself and the people I identify with down. And that’s not a nice feeling, that’s not how I want to feel when I watch a comedy.
Me and my friends might laugh at ourselves when we are staying up until 2 AM playing some game on a Tuesday night. But to realize that millions of people are laughing at people that are similar to us? I think that it is definitely reasonable to feel a little uncomfortable.