‘The Big Bang Theory’ was born out of Bill Prady’s college experience with computer geeks. While Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre shifted the spine of the story from that of computer geeks to physicists, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ had been critically deemed as a show that stereotyped geeks and further led to the alienation of the community till the very last of its episodes.
- Big Bang Theory’s legacy
- Alienation of communities
- Misogyny and the gender gap
The foundational story of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ revolves around “men who want to unravel the universe but can’t talk to a woman” as explained by Lorre. A young woman living by herself befriends four men who are her neighbours. Kaley Cuoco’s Penny is an on-and-off love interest of Leonard Hofstadter. He is an experimental physicist. Sheldon Cooper is a theoretical physicist and an intellectual genius, while Raj Koothrapalli is an astrophysicist. The fourth in the group is Howard Wolowitz. He is an engineer who likes to think of himself as a womanizer. The Big Bang Theory legacy is a subjet to dwell upon
Coming back to its foundational story, it is why it has often been despised and adored at the same time as long as it ran its course. While the stereotypes allegedly led to the alienation of the nerd and geek community, some also feel that it promoted the message of inclusion.
“I don’t think we do [stereotype geeks]”, Prady said in a 2012 interview. “The characters on the show are based to a large extent on people I knew when I was in the computer business. Initially, they were, and now I think they’re based on the writers in the writers’ room, who are sort of the geekiest collection of human beings assembling daily in southern California”.
The “New Statesman’s” Sarah Manavis called the series “a plague on society”. She wrote, “There’s a snobby point to be made about the humour in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ being that of the lowest common denominator. YouTube is riddled with videos of the show with the audience laughter edited out, which, after watching one, it becomes difficult to escape the conclusion that the critically acclaimed show is simply bad, unfunny, and, above all, full of lazy one-liners stacked on top of each other for twenty minutes”.
Misogyny at its best
‘The Big Bang Theory’ has also been called out for displaying misogynistic undertones. After 12 years of running, while experiencing a stark difference in its rating and reviews, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has left a legacy if nothing else. Well, it is debatable whether it is bad or good. One of the most-watched American shows, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is regressive and continued without much character development for years. The very fact that physicists are not necessarily introverts, sits opposite to the foundation of the show. At the time when there’s a constant battle to rectify gender stereotypes, the show leaves a legacy that promotes outdated perception towards women. While women have been fighting to be considered equal to men in terms of everything, solidifying them as characters who are not into typical physics, astronomy, etc, but more into expected fields, that are considered relatively feminine like microbiology, seems like taking it too far.
The nerds in the show basically get away with everything. From stalking and flashing to sexism and upskirting.
“It’s their status as nerdy, nice guys that lets them off the hook for a wide range of creepy, entitled, and downright sexist behaviours”, the “Pop-Culture Detective” explains. Their behaviour is normalised because they are placed in the category of “unthreatening”.
Furthermore, the show encouraged racism and Eastern stereotypes with Raj Koothrapalli often being at the receiving end of bad jokes having to do with Indian culture or his overbearing parents. As MTV India wrote in their piece titled “5 Reasons Why ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Is Racist”, Rajesh Koothrappali is “the stereotypical brown guy with an exotic accent, crippled by his inability to speak to women, and trying to escape the arranged marriages foisted on him by his bossy parents”.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ became a poster show for propagating prejudice and leaving behind a bad legacy. Well, at least it is over.