Big Bang Theory

Comedy is very personal and either you find something funny or you don’t. So I’m not surprised when someone tells me that they don’t like such and such show or they don’t think that Jim Belushi is very funny. Deciding that you don’t think a show is particularly funny is your right as a viewer, even if you can’t put your reasoning into words. So when people tell me that they don’t like Big Bang Theory  and don’t think it’s funny I really don’t give it a second thought. I disagree, but as I said, comedy is personal.

What I do find strange is that people are getting angry at The Big Bang Theory. Really angry. Bleeding Cool seems to be outraged at the show and feels that it is making fun of nerds and is laughing at, not with, all of us.  The website refers to it as the show that hates you. Now I am not so naïve to think that Bleeding Cool doesn’t know that slamming Big Bang Theory generates hits, but beyond that I just don’t buy the argument offered. 

Nor do I accept the notion that The Big Bang Theory (BBT) is “nerd blackface” . You can feel that BBT portrays nerds in a negative stereotypical fashion but to compare it to the racism of Minstrels shows is hyperbolic foolishness that downplays the serious racism of actual Minstrel shows.

But what was the episode that so recently set internet anger to maximum? In summary, the male leads of the show set off and attend a comic book convention (cosplaying as Star Trek characters) and while they are away the female characters note that they don’t understand why the men like comic books. The women then get the idea that because it is such an important hobby for their husband/boyfriends that they should visit a comic book store to understand the interest.

I know. You are seething with anger.

Once at the comic book store the trio of women are stared at by the customer base and the store owner needs to threaten to hose somebody down. Bleeding Cool took great offense to this and in advance of the episode asked female readers to talk about the good experiences they had at comic book shops.

If you feel that BBT representation of how women are treated in comic book stores are grossly misleading and not at all based upon reality that is fantastic because it means that you have a great local comic book store. But the reality is that at least 50% of the stores out there are awful (and I’m being incredibly generous there). If you are a woman you do get stares from the clientele. Or you do get treated poorly. Now this isn’t only for women, lots of stores just treat everyone poorly. My point is that while there are many great stores out there that are positive experiences for female readers many shops are not. Still. After many, many years. If we asked women to send us stories of a time when they had a negative experience in a shop we’d get a lot of feedback.

I’ll give Bleeding Cool that a clean, bright store in a large city would probably be a bit friendlier to female shoppers, especially since the show has already established that the store does have women as customers, but we are talking about a bit of comedic license.

So Bernadette, Amy, and Penny decide to buy a comic book (Thor) and read it. The verdict is that superhero comic are stupid. Are you offended by that? Half the writers for the Comics Journal think that. Superhero comics are stupid. Awesomely awesomely stupid.

The trio then get into a heated debate about who can lift Thor’s hammer and when, thus showing one of the most fun aspects of the hobby which is discussing the minutiae of superhero powers. While all of this is happening the men have their car stolen and are actually bullied by strangers for dressing up as Star Trek The Next Generation characters. But, surprisingly, this show that hates you doesn’t make the bullies the heroes, but BBT creates an element of pathos for a group of geeks who have been mistreated.

Perhaps I watched a different episode. I find it hard to be angry at a show that suggests those not interested in the hobby try it out by showing one of the many reasons why people enjoy the hobby. I also find it hard to be angry at a show that demonstrates that anyone who throws food at a cosplayer is an idiot.

If you don’t like the Big Bang Theory and you don’t find it funny that is fine and totally understandable. If you are personally offended by the series you should ask yourself why. Don’t get me wrong, you’re allowed to be offended, but I do think that BBT is laughing with and not at you. The BBT does use nerdy stereotypes for comedic effect, but many of their stereotypes are spot on. I’m sorry but I have been or still am every nerd joke that has been on that show.

And that all of North America now knows that every Wednesday is new comic book day seems like a pretty neat thing to me.