It does not matter if you’re a fan of the series, but you cannot deny that The Big Bang Theory has normalised nerd culture, and thank god for that.
If you are a self-proclaimed TBBT fan, you must often find yourself on the receiving end of triumphant “yays” or wistful sighs. The show has received a lot of criticism for being problematic in its treatment of certain characters. But none of that has stopped it from becoming television’s longest-running multi-camera comedy in history.
- The show is about its characters and not its portrayal of geek culture
- The Big Bang Theory and its popularisation of nerds
- TBBT shifted its focus from nerds to their relationships
TBBT has been nominated for over 200 awards, won over 50 and sported the highest-paid cast after FRIENDS (a staggering $1 million per episode). Its overwhelming success has given it an undying place in pop-culture, regardless of how viewers feel about it. Love it or hate it, the show has made more positive influences on our generation than we can count.
The Big Bang Theory nerds are characters packed with punchlines and somehow inspire viewers to embrace their own quirky traits. Let’s learn more about how the series popularised a culture that’d been lurking in the shadows for far too long.
For some viewers, the show is about its characters
Initially, the show generated its laughs from the scientist roommates Sheldon and Leonard, and their brainy friends Raj and Howard. Sheldon’s pompous, know-it-all attitude and Leonard’s lactose intolerance and nervousness often made an appearance in their dialogues.
Then there was Raj, an astrophysicist with selective mutism that rendered him unable to talk to women, unless inebriated. Howard, on the other hand, is an aerospace engineer and the only one in the group without a doctorate.
All four characters are immensely different from each other, but their love for all things geeky has kept them close. Finally, the comic relief of the series arrived — the ditzy waitress and aspiring actress Penny who lived across the hall.
The show discusses superheroes and food-allergies, Sheldon’s germophobia, Penny’s boyfriends, Raj’s inability to talk to women and Howard talking to too many. But the series becomes special when two new female characters join season 3 and breathe life into the sitcom. Penny’s co-worker and aspiring microbiologist Bernadette and neurobiologist Amy Farrah-Fowler (Sheldon’s future wife) bring more relatability to the show.
As the cast becomes an ensemble, the narrative rapidly changes and takes the focus away from the nerds. The ‘will they, won’t they’ storyline emphasised upon with additions of geeky elements along the line.
The Big Bang Theory and its popularisation of nerds
The Big Bang Theory nerds are portrayed as strange, and obviously seem to have their own quirks. But don’t we all have a weird side to us? The series got many things right as we saw the interests of the characters in the show evolve with its viewers. Creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady identified themselves as geeky and nerdy and the sitcom was written based on their own experiences.
Their ability to include elements of geek culture throughout the show is admirable. You’ll notice a Spock figurine on Sheldon’s desk and they even have a wall full of superhero paraphernalia and comic-books. Sheldon even goes to the extent of hiding his spare cash in a Green Lantern figure.
And as the years pass, you’ll suddenly see a sword from the Game Of Thrones series on their wall. Pop-culture references from recent times are subtly woven into conversations as the squad continues to line up hours before a sci-fi film’s premiere. They still visit the comic-book store and look forward to comic-con every year!
The Big Bang Theory nerds made an attempt to shine a positive light on things we already know about. Whether it was explaining scientific theories, sci-fi movie secrets or comic-books, the characters’ actually came across as pretty cool.
TBBT shifted its focus from nerds to their relationships
The central idea of TBBT was its characters, their social skills or rather the lack of, and their growth. The Big Bang Theory nerds introduced many of their viewers to the important aspects of nerd culture in intriguing ways. From iconic games like Dungeons and Dragons, comic-books and superhero theories to even iconic names in nerd and geek communities, it had all.
TBBT featured several impressive celebrities from Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, Stephen Hawking, Will Wheaton, Carrie Fisher to even Elon Musk. Although these icons guest-starred in just a few short scenes, their involvement proves that they certainly approve of the series.
The cast was joined by two new female members in the third season and the focus shifted to their relationships. The nerds and the story they share with the women begins to lead the narrative. But that doesn’t stop us from making TBBT references, saying “Bazinga!” or unintentionally humming soft kitty.
The nerdy scientists continued to believe that action figures were cool, dressing up as superheroes on New Year’s Eve was fun and championed the idea that nerds were normal all the way to the end. They definitely did good to popular-culture.
Who is your favourite The Big Bang Theory nerd? Let us know in the comments.