What does a show, so popular from the word go, need to do to leave a lasting mark on its viewers? Should it only be witty punchlines and a laughter riot, or should enough care be taken that the humour does not ensue from stereotypes? Since its inception, The Big Bang Theory was either too racist, too sexist, or too stereotypical. Here is a list of the five biggest stereotypes of The Big Bang Theory.
Since its debut in 2009, The Big Bang Theory made us roll on the floor, laugh, and go ‘aww’ numerous times. Until TBBT, scientists were stereotyped as nerds and mad people. But the sitcom’s approach towards science became famous and normalized geek culture. However, in doing so, creator Chuck Lorre promoted many stereotypes that need harsh criticism, especially in a world that is slowly becoming more intolerant towards anything different with each passing day.
Which stereotypes did The Big Bang Theory propagate?
- The ‘dumb blond‘ stereotype
- The ‘Indian’ stereotype
- The ‘Jewish mother’ stereotype
- ‘Women in science are not hot’ stereotype
- ‘Bromance = Gay’stereotype
The ‘dumb Blond’stereotype
Undoubtedly, one of the most stereotyped characters in The Big Bang Theory is Penny. In trying to normalize ‘intelligent’ scientists like Sheldon or Leonard, Lorre introduced characters who are closer to viewers in terms of relatability. Presenting Penny —neighbour to Sheldon and Leonard.
Penny is shown as the regular woman who dates, works as a waitress, and has her own friends. But her portrayal has been that of a dumb blond who is unintelligent and always makes stupid choices in life or otherwise. This made viewers cringe.
A sitcom is incomplete without a man of colour — be it an African-American, or an Indian guy who always gets bullied by his ‘white’ friends. This was the thinking that most sitcom makers had in the 2000s. A case in point is Rajesh, aka Raj Koothrapally. Undoubtedly the most stereotyped character in The Big Bang Theory,he is brown, wears shabby sweaters over full-sleeved shirts, and dons a middle parting.
Raj is so shy that he even gets scared of looking at women, is still a virgin, and is waiting for an arranged marriage. With parents who are shown to take care of his bills in America (possibly another dig at the close-knit Indian culture where parents and children live together well beyond the kid’s 18 years and a father, despite his taunts, will take care of his offspring’s every other need). It is nerve-wracking to know that’s what Americans think of Indians.
The ‘Jewish mother’stereotype
Through Amy is also Jewish in TBBT, Howard is the most advertised one. Lorre has repeatedly stereotyped Jewish women. In this case, it’s Howard’s mother. All that the audience knows about her is that she’s fat, loud, overbearing, and loves to guilt-trip her son. Howard’s mom checks out almost every box for a stereotypical Jewish mother. There are also references to the Holocaust and the Jewish suffering in the second world war, and this has been done solely for laughs, which is not always appreciated.
‘Women in science are not hot’ stereotype
One thing that TBBTthankfully recognized is that science is not just a man’s world. Amy and Bernadette are scientists, but there is always an underlying subplot that agrees that women in science cannot be hot, or beautiful. From the very first scene when Amy is introduced, it is insinuated that she does not care about how she looks or dresses. For instance, the guys’jaws dropped when Penny, Amy, and Bernadette dolled up in hot little numbers to go for drinks in season 6, like that was the first time they realized women in science can look good.
‘Bromance = gay’stereotype
Two men who are close confidants and best friends don’t have to be gay. Another stereotype in the show, Raj and Howard are shown as very close friends and often, it is insinuated that Raj has romantic feelings for Howard. Straight men can be feminine, but Howard and Raj are often bullied because of it.
Do you think these are all the stereotypes in TBBT, or so you have more? Why don’t you tell us about them in the comments box below?