Big Bang Theory cast

The Big Bang Theory is ruining science

When The Big Bang Theory first premiered, I watched it with a lot of hope.

It had science script checkers and sought to bring the nerdy culture of physics into the mainstream. My wife (then girlfriend) and I started watching it while we were both undergrads – me in engineering physics and she in physics. While it’s predominantly male cast and token ditzy blonde was problematic from the start, it was relatable for us and our friends. Even if none of us were a Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, or Howard, we saw bits of each of those characters in each of us. Even Penny started to develop into a rounded character and slowly they introduced a couple female scientists. Overall, it was good.

But it’s moved so far from that. Many of our friends gave up on it years ago as the show drifted toward the lowest common denominator. The physics jokes are almost entirely gone and the humour is more about laughing at the gang for being nerdy and socially awkward than the humour in the situations they get into.

This latest episode – the ninth season premier at that – reached an incredible new low though. Amy’s escape from her joyless relationship with Sheldon was seen by Sheldon as an indictment on half the population. The script writers then chose to run with that “gag” through the entire episode. In one scene Sheldon is creeping in a window because he wanted to pressure Amy into getting back together with him. By the end he’s saying that the only good woman is scientist Marie Curie but she was “an honorary man because she had a penis made of science.”

Not to be outdone on the creep-factor, comic book store owner Stuart’s gag was to instantly prey on every female character as soon as he had a hint that she might be single. Meanwhile Leonard follows up his elopement to Penny by revealing that he works with a woman he cheated on Penny with and then offers sex as a means to distract her.

Given the deep systemic issues faced by women in science, there’s no forgiveness for this show to stoop to this level. What could be a way to make science cool, fun, and engaging has instead just become offensive for its misogyny, its disservice to the incredible women in science, and for perpetuating cruel stereotypes about men in science.

I feel betrayed.

4 thoughts on “The Big Bang Theory is ruining science”

    1. I don’t usually though. The Muppets premier was good, although it played off The Office a lot (another show I liked). It’s just with TBBT, I have a personal history & some identification with it. So when it moves from that to bad, not funny jokes (as in, there was nothing funny in the episode) that are made at me and my friend’s expense, I get offended.

      It’s like if halfway through Fresh Prince or Family Matters the show writers decided to stop making jokes about the shenanigans of Will Smith or Erkel and instead made racist jokes about the black community.

  1. This show has been lowest common denominator since its inception. Consider the producer, and all of his other programs. At best (and this is a generous reach) initially, it pretended to have subject matter outside of typical Chuck Lorre fare, but in reality, it’s always been about sex and pigs and idiots. The difference is these pigs like Star Trek, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter.

    Consider the race aspect! On a show like Parks and Recreation, Tom (played by Aziz Ansari) mentions his heritage here and there as an Indian man, but his identity is not the most obvious things about his race. The Big Bang Theory’s two minority characters are, essentially when it comes to their character makeup, “The Jew” and “The Foreigner”. If anyone found anything about Fez on “That 70’s Show” offensive, how do they stomach 10 seconds of BBT? Better yet, how is Howard not an anti-Semitic caricature? Is it because the producer of the show is Jewish?

    This show is the most reductive piece of garbage that has permeated popular culture, and while you’ve decided to turn it off, an entire society of people have been bred to wear their hideous Bazinga shirts, and think that these characters are realistic, or the way they behave and treat is appropriate. This show is abhorrent, and it ALWAYS has been.

  2. Oh how did I forget: TBBT! After Prady left the show it went to complete crapper. I still watch, but it is really a sitnoncom now. The intelligent writing, science in-jokes, and a funny peek into academic life have completely vanished. It’s just a show about socially awkward people and their entourage now. It is really a variation of Saved by the Bell focusing on Sheldon as Screech. Making fun of string theory was substituted with developing a nonsensical gadget that wiggles in a ‘funny’ way. Instead of promoting them from their post-doc positions to professors (no ‘genius’ stays at the same job for so long) they are infantalized and act like no scientist ever. I could go on about how one of my favorite shows was ruined, but let’s end the rant here.

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