"The Big Bang Theory": Televised mockery or homage to science?

(First, I realize that the show is already in its fourth season.  But I didn't have a television for a long time and, consequently, have only recently discovered this sitcom.  So please bear with me even if this is "so 2007.")


Last Thursday, the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory aired on CBS.  As I have been catching up on the first three seasons, I have found myself wondering whether the show is positive or negative for the promotion of science.  

On one hand, all of the science in the show is accurate.  Thanks to a resident physicist consult, the equations on the numerous whiteboard props are real and the dialog references actual current topics in various scientific fields.  This inherent scientific veracity would seem to at least familiarize the general viewing population with what may otherwise remain obscure science.

Conversely, the show does not paint a very attractive picture of scientific brilliance nor of intellectual excellence in general.  Although the awkwardly adorable Leonard is the series' protagonist, his intellectual success is still subordinate to his social failures.  The other three male scientists--Sheldon, Raj, and Howard--all embody various stereotypical aspects of the archetypal geeky guy with the social capacity of each character in an inversely proportional relation to his intellectual prowess.  Sheldon, the most brilliant of the bunch, is inarguably the least capable of functioning within a social group.

And that's just the men.  Women in science fare no better--and potentially worse--on the show.  Aside from an oversexed physicist and a controlling grad student, female scientists on the show are portrayed in bare make-up, massive glasses, and a forgettable wardrobe.  This is in sharp contrast to Penny, Penny's friends, and Sheldon's "hot sister."  Of course, none of the sexy female characters are scientists or academically inclined in any manner.

So what do you think?  Is this show a positive or negative force in the popularization of science? Personally, I still find the show entertaining.  Maybe I'm being too harsh; after all, geek chic is all the rage these days.


P.S. Is it weird that I have the biggest crush ever on Sheldon?

Tags: bang, big, cbs, culture, media, pop, science, sitcom, television, the, More…theory

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I have intentions on watching this show at some point. But, I gave up on it initially because of the blonde stereotype they used in the initial episodes (which I hear they revamped and made more relateable). Sorry, I like my women (and all people) to be believable.
I insist that you watch at least season one this weekend and report back pronto on the status of your mancrush--or lack thereof--on Sheldon.
That would require a massive overhaul of my Netflix queue. Do you know what you are asking? You really want me to put off Season 4 of Dexter?
Hmm, I'm not sure that anything should bump Dexter. I need to catch up on that one next.
It's a killer show.

Oh, boy. Yeah. I went there.
It's a killer show.

And it's in serial format, too. Imagine that.
Ba da dum!
All I can say is that S4 left me hanging out for S5 in the biggest way.
I haven't watched all that much of the show, but I don't think that playing up on the stereotypes is anything more than a comedic ploy that that has tested well enough with audiences rather than any broader statement about the scientific community.

Lots of sitcoms have over-exaggerated characters as their mainstays. I also have been without television for quite some time, but I started downloading entire series. All of the characters on 30 Rock are over the top with a lot of self-deprecating lines. Most of the characters on The Office are way over the top. Hell, some of the characters were almost unbearable for me during the first season. Will and Grace is another example. The list goes on. Most sitcoms don't seem to have overly deep themes.

I think, ultimately, the show is positive. The characters may be cast as typical social retards (from what little I've seen), but they are designed so that the audience finds them endearing on some level.

P.S. Is it weird that I have the biggest crush ever on Sheldon?

Yes. I think it's a testament to my incredible tolerance that I am even posting in a thread created by such a deviant!

Or, alternatively, no, I think it's understandable. If I had to choose, I'd probably go with Sheldon over the other three.
Lots of sitcoms have over-exaggerated characters as their mainstays.

True, I guess that it is the formula of a sitcom. Maybe I just haven't watched primetime TV programming in so long that I'm not used to the formula. I have watched the occasional episode of The Office over the past few years; the gross exaggeration of character traits is making more sense now.
I don't watch tv. however I do watch family guy and other adult cartoons on the internet. lol
I enjoy the show, and think--as others said--that it is overall affectionate in its skewering of its characters' foibles.

I always thought they were accurate with their math and science as well--until last week's episode. Sheldon's estimation of Penny's likely number of lifetime dates was way, way off based on the numbers he stated, especially since he said he was assuming she was at the top of a Bell curve at this stage in her life.

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