‘The Big Bang Theory’ Hates Geeks
‘The Big Bang Theory’ is the most successful of the recent pop-culture trend towards geek culture. The show centres around a group of four geeks and the non-geek girl who lives across the hall. The comedy is centred around two key factors: pop-culture reference and what complete losers the geeks are.
Let’s face it – the main thrust of the show is based around a negative stereotype of a cultural group. When the show first aired the characters were shallow representations based around a common depiction of geeky characters, with the unusual decision to make them all strangely effeminate. As the first season progressed the characters progressed and developed to the point that they started to feel like real people, each with their own little quirks and tics. If there’s one thing that has remained consistent it’s that any character who fits the geek label are total losers.
There’s one way this could come about – the characters are declared losers by the wider society who condemn them for their higher intellect and strange habits. But that doesn’t happen on ‘The Big Bang Theory’. All the characters manage to put themselves in this situation because they are, without mincing words, a bunch of dicks.
Howard is a total sleaze, and delusional to boot, Sheldon is frustrating a pedantic and when Raj speaks he always acts in a self-centred manner even trying to put himself between his best friend and his fiancee. Leonard, the protagonist and by definition the character the viewer is intended to side with is self-serving, cowardly and rude. Moving outside of the central group, we do occasionally encounter other engineers and other geeks who are not total losers, but this never lasts. Will Wheaton is manipulative, Penny’s relationship with a motorbiking, handsome engineer turns out to be cheating on his wife and the comic shop owner is one of the many geeks who attempts to get between a friend and their love interest.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ manages to create a stark contrast between geeks and the rest of the world. Geeks are people who are cruel and deserve being losers and everyone else is normal and functional.
The icing on the cake is the character of Penny. At the beginning of the series she was cool, confident and whilst unsuccessful remained optimistic and had a wide circle of friends. During her relationship with Leonard and friends she started to pick up some of their traits. She references ‘Star Trek’, wants to learn about psychics and can even explain Schrodinger’s Cat. And in direct proportion to her rising geekness is her failure at life. Her career has gotten worse, she can’t get a boyfriend and all the friends who used to attend her parties have entirely vanished.
I’m not suggesting a massive revamp of show, because I find it funny and will go and watch the new episode as soon as I’ve finished ranting here – but they could at least give us some credit.