Both shows are about nerds, but the former takes the cake in any kind of competition. Here’s why.
On the face of it, both shows seem to be very similar: both are about a group of very intelligent men living in California and going through their lives. But they are actually very different. While ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ may have enjoyed immense popularity all through its 12 seasons, garnering good ratings and something of a cult following, it has attracted as much criticism too. People have periodically berated the sitcom’s depiction of nerd culture and the way it used cheap tricks to derive humour. Whereas ‘Silicon Valley‘, another show about nerds navigating their lives and love, has almost exclusively garnered positive reviews, critical acclaim, and was one of the most beloved sitcoms.
- ‘Silicon Valley’ has better, more rounded characters
- ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has a tendency to spoon-feed jokes to its audience
So what did ‘Silicon Valley’ do better than ‘The Big Bang Theory’? Here’s taking a look.
The way it depicts nerd culture
All ‘The Big Bang Theory’ does is name-drop cults and movie franchises that are nerdy, and follow it up with a laugh track. There aren’t any jokes made on them. There are only plenty of lazy references to mainstream films or comics. Even with the scientist references, there’s only just the reference and name-dropping without any attempt to construct jokes.
‘Silicon Valley’ takes digs at real facets of tech culture, and is rooted in the tech ecosystem. There are no explanations given. Unlike ‘The Big Bang Theory’, in ‘Silicon Valley’, saying the word “code” is not expected to evoke laughter: there are actual jokes made related to it.
‘Silicon Valley’ depicts the characters of the coders, the entrepreneurs, and CEOs satirically. The greedy and heartless billionaires, the socially inept geniuses, the Satanist, all seem on point and authentic, absurd and funny.
They aren’t just stereotypes. And what’s more, these characters develop as the show progresses. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on the other hand depicts all of its characters as flat and as stereotypes. For instance, Raj is a stereotypical Indian with a stereotypical accent and his overbearing parents.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ throws jargon and elaborate explanations about science-related things at you, expecting it to be somehow funny. It’s supposed to sound so intelligent that it is intelligible, but it only comes across as awkward and forceful. ‘Silicon Valley’ does dialogue so much better. There is no tech jargon flying around unnecessarily but deftly weaved into the dialogue that normal people speak. Each episode is packed with so many jokes that are well-crafted and well-hidden, that it may take multiple viewings to capture all of them.
The female characters
This is one aspect in which ‘Silicon Valley’ lags to about below average, something that has not gone unnoticed by even its most diehard fans. There are virtually no women on the show, the only vaguely identifiable one being Monica Hall, who is the personal assistant to a venture capitalist. But even in this facet, it does better than ‘The Big Bang Theory’, given that as the show progresses more real female characters are introduced. Even Monica is handled well.
Then there’s ‘The Big Bang Theory’, with its female characters depicted as either dumb and pretty or smart and dowdy. Penny is just someone for the boys to be attracted to or patronise. The other female characters are portrayed in a shallow and, sometimes, downright offensive way.
The way the shows treats their audience
A good part of what makes a TV show is the way it treats its audience. Does it spoon-feed it the most obvious things? Or does it respect its audience’s intelligence? This is one crucial difference when it comes to any debate about ‘Silicon Valley’ vs ‘The Big Bang Theory’; the former always treats its audience with respect.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ tells you the same jokes over and over again, really driving the point through just in case you didn’t get it the first time. ‘Silicon Valley’ treats you better than that. It trusts you enough to understand the jokes and, at least, the context of the references, rather than spoon-feeding you the entire thing.
Which sitcom do you now prefer? In what other way has ‘Silicon Valley’ done better than ‘The Big Bang Theory’? Let us know in the comments.