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A very interesting blog post

By way of Will scifantasy Frank (over on Google+), I found this post on the blog Shouting Into The Void:

The Problem With The Big Bang Theory...

Many of you know that I can't watch The Big Bang Theory; I find it, for the most part, cringe-worthy. Many of my friends who do like the show have said that they don't understand why I feel that way.

I think this paragraph from the essay makes the point best:

If you watch, really watch[,] an episode of The Big Bang Theory and pay attention to when the audience laughs it soon becomes clear . . . what they’re laughing at. What Chuck Lorre wants us to find funny is not the jokes which the characters are making, it’s the characters themselves. At one point Howard mentions playing Dungeons and Dragons. There is no joke attached to this, it’s not the punchline to any set up, however it is treated as one. Howard says the words “Dungeons and Dragons” and the audience laughs. They’re not laughing at a joke, they’re laughing at the fact that Howard plays D&D. And this kind of thing happens all the time throughout the show. How many times has a joke been made out of Leonard owning action figures or Sheldon collecting comics? When, in season one, Penny invites the guys to her Halloween party and they are excited about making costumes, we’re supposed to laugh at them, to think they are silly for dressing as a Hobbit or Thor when everyone else is trying to look sexy. The reason I feel uncomfortable watching The Big Bang Theory is because it’s laughing at me, at people like me.

That's how I feel, and how I've always felt. The show ridicules its main characters for laughs. And that makes me extremely uncomfortable.

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
neo_tanuki
Sep. 12th, 2012 07:43 pm (UTC)
Have to say I disagree with this one, at least from my own point of view. I watch the show and laugh a lot...but most of the time it's with me saying "That happened to me once!" Especially with the scenes of the four guys trying to explain geek culture to non-geeks.

My impression is the show was focused more on making fun of the characters in the early episodes, but as it's gone along there's just as many about them one-upping jocks and mean and/or dumb non-nerds, who I think get made fun of just as much, if not more (ALL of Penny's ex-boyfriends are idiots, for example.)

My wife raised her eyebrows a bit when she found out she was dating someone with geeky interest, but today happily watches "Dr. Who" and anime with me with enthusiasm, even if she isn't a full-fledged "geek." And I think that's why I like the show; I feel like it allows me to laugh at my own experiences when my geeky taste mixed with my non-geeky friends. But I don't get the vibe of the characters being mocked or geeky folks in general being denigrated the same way you or the linked blogger did.

Oh, and I ALSO think "Community" is hilarious. I just started watching it and want to see more!
esprix
Sep. 13th, 2012 10:51 am (UTC)
This is how I feel about it. There may have been an original underlying intent to laugh at, but over the course of the show I feel it's subtly turned torwards laughing with.
niall_shapero
Sep. 12th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Geek is equivalent to N****r.
Let's make fun of the geeks. They're REALLY not "us", they're "THEM".

We can always make fun of "THEM", because they are not "US".

Feh!
trooper6
Sep. 12th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
I only watched the pilot...and I found it profoundly unfunny...not just because they were laughing at geeks...but because the jokes were bad.
scifantasy
Sep. 13th, 2012 09:39 am (UTC)
It was quite interesting to see the range of reactions from my friends. (Especially because almost everybody who chimed in on that post is from the same original group of friends, so they almost all knew each other prior.)

They ranged from "You're just being oversensitive" to "dead-on" to "I don't give a crap about whether they make fun of the nerds, the sitcom humor and plots are just dumb and hackneyed," then went to whether the show started one way and evolved...

My personal favorite is from the actual physics Ph.D and professor, who had met the UCLA prof who serves as the show's physics adviser (in my friend's words, the job is "faxing them pages of equations to put on the whiteboard, giving them physics posters for set dressing, providing analogies and buzzwords when needed"). He (my friend) ended up in the "hackneyed" camp.
brithistorian
Sep. 13th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
Okay, well at least now I understand why so many geeks are so anti-Big Bang Theory. I can't say that I agree. Admittedly, I've only watched about a half-dozen random episodes (whatever my sister-in-law had on her Tivo when we visited in June), but I found myself laughing a lot, and most of it was the laughter of recognition that neo_tanuki talks about.
kiltcheck
Sep. 13th, 2012 12:30 pm (UTC)
I agree with you. I watched two episodes and was unimpressed. (And on top of bein' a fannish geek, my degree is in physics.) I also found the humor inane and predictable. The actors themselves are terrific and have created some great characters. I just can't get past the bad writing or the "cringe factor" as you've so aptly put it. I found it more laughing at us than laughing with us -- and I tuned into episodes that were several seasons into the show. I'm sure I missed a few inside jokes, but I don't think so the way that they telegraphed and hit me on the head with some of the issues. So, no thanks. I prefer to spend my time elsewhere.
scixual
Sep. 14th, 2012 05:35 am (UTC)
It feels to me like a nerd minstrel show.

Which is hyperbole, I know, the racism of a minstrel show is/was a far, far worse thing. But the difference is in degree, not kind.

I agree with the quoted review -- that's how it lands to me, exactly.

But maybe it's like the taste of cilantro -- some of us are actually getting a different flavor, due to our (metaphoric) genetic predispositions.

Also the laugh track. It feels really obnoxious -- maybe because, as with the reviewer, my "natural" laugh point wouldn't match that of the audience.
ebenbrooks
Sep. 14th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
Except it's not a track, it's a live audience. Which is even more disturbing.
scixual
Sep. 14th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
...oh. Yes, I'd agree there.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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