Tag Archives: big bang theory

Rethinking The Big Bang Theory

Back in episode 295 we had our own ürbernerd, Ben McKenzie, talk about The Big Bang Theory and its poor portrayal of nerds on TV. Listener David Lay sent in his thoughts and we present them here in a slightly edited form.

I recall having a first look at The Big Bang Theory when Channel 9 first started airing it (whenever that was), and not liking it enough to regard it as ‘appointment television’. My initial impression was that the show was very much laughing *at* nerds rather than *with* them. But some time later, when the hair was on fire at Channel 9 and they were all about repeats of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory around the clock, I began watching it more regularly.

I studied maths, physics, and computer science at University during the 1990s, so I felt like this was a show pitched squarely, if not, alarmingly narrowly, at me.

When Channel 9 went nuts with TBBT repeats I came to enjoy it. In the later seasons, the balance seemed to have tipped more towards “laughing with” than “laughing at”. I enjoyed it in much the same way I enjoy The Simpsons and Futurama.

And then I listened to Boxcutters episode #295 and heared it spoken of in some confronting terms like “misogyny” and I was startled. There was an initial shock of one’s personal sense of taste has been maligned, and an impulse to fly off the handle into half-cocked, HeraldSun-esque moral outrage. I’ve listened to that segment again several times over the course of the last two or three months, and it has made me re-evaluate my thoughts.

In probably more of a “the scales fell from my eyes” moment. I realise that I’ve been letting some things on TBBT slide.

Like in that episode where Howard and Koothrappali put on fake tattoo sleeves and eyeliner and go to a club to hit on goth girls. It’s easy to picture a macho-jock type date-rapist and say “now *that’s* misogyny”, but Howard and Raj preparing for a night of trying to lie their way into a one night stand isn’t materially different now that I think about it.

I managed to overlook things like this in TBBT because you know they’re so socially inept that they’re doomed to failure. I guess there’s something in the power dynamics: one tends to picture misogyny as being perpetrated by confident and powerful macho types. When perpetrated by sexually inexperienced socially awkward nerds with low self-esteem, it seems less obvious.

Although it’s taken a while for me to get to this point, I agree with what Ben McKenzie has said, and I can see TBBT from more of a distance now.

Something that still surprises me, though, is that I was so readily able to identify the misogynistic humour in other Chuck Lorre productions: specifically the Ukrainian cook in 2 Broke Girls and pretty much every facet of Two and a Half Men.

Somehow the misogyny in The Big Bang Theory ;escaped my immediate attention.

There are degrees of TV show love. ;The Big Bang Theory was “record on DVR and erase after watching”, but now it’s bumped down to “watch it if it’s on”. Community, for contrast, is “record on DVR and keep it until I get it on DVD” love.

You can send your letters to Boxcutters so we can know what you think.

Ep 310: Myf Warhurst’s Nice

Myf Warhurst is famous from the television. That’s why we’re speaking to her. She has a new show called Nice and it’s kind of like her first solo album. We speak to her about the emotional journey.

And we look at the ridiculousness of FTA commercial news in Raywatch.

There are some great letters to Boxcutters, too.

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Ep 295: Episodic Television & Nerds on TV

Ben McKenzie is a bonafide nerd who takes the label to an almost professional level. He talks to us about how the nerd is culturally represented on television with a particular focus on The Big Bang Theory.

TV ads are upsetting and confusing as we discover in I Don’t Buy It.

Then we have a discussion about the death of episodic television. Does everything have to be a long story? Whatever happened to just having everything wrapped up in a nice hour of television? We get to the bottom of it.

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So remember how it wasn’t that long ago we announced the death of the live studio audience sitcom? Sure, we had an axe to grind. All that fake-sounding laughter is a comedy purist’s nightmare.

Still, no sooner had we chosen the coffin and bought a beautiful wreath for the occasion than Chuck Lorre came along with Two and a Half Men. Then How I Met Your Mother became really popular. Then Lorre returned the volley with Big Bang Theory.

The single camera or non-‘laffer’ comedies are still the ones that get the most attention from us but that doesn’t change the fact that people still enjoy the old-school studio audience comedies.

The networks in the US, trailing the zeitgeist, yet again, are now throwing everything they have at the half-hour comedy.

It’s all explained in a great article in last week’s New York Times.

People like Mr. Lorre are particularly in demand this spring, amid a renaissance of sorts for the network TV sitcom, which not too long ago was pronounced terminally ill. On studio lots, where dozens of new shows are being fretted about and fought over ahead of the networks’ scheduling decisions in May, the number of sitcoms in development has spiked. “I think we’re on the cusp of a bull market for comedy,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment chief, whose No. 1 priority for the fall is adding more live-action comedies to his schedule.