My Issue With The Big Bang Theory

29 June 2015

The Big Bang Theory
has had audiences laughing for almost eight years, but behind the humour are some questionable characteristics of representations that I haven't been able to ignore. Although I have enjoyed watching the show and admit it is quite entertaining, there are some factors within The Big Bang Theory that don't sit well with me at all. So without further ado, here are the three reasons why I have a problem with The Big Bang Theory. 

Disclaimer: This is a reflectively critical post about TBBT. It is not meant to offend fans or condemn the show, but illustrate the issues within the show from a critical representational perspective, and create a space for discussion on the subject matter. Please take this into account when you read this post. 

1. Penny: Sass or borderline jerk?
Penny has become the joke punch line on the show over the past couple of seasons. In the first couple of seasons, Penny represented the average 20 something year old female, with an ambition to make it as an actress in California. She had authentic sass and was known as the girl next door with loveable qualities, who was also pretty attractive. But now her sass has become borderline offensive. Seriously, what does she bring to her relationship with Lenoard apart her 'cool' aesthetic? Now-a-days most of Penny's on-screen time is spent belittling Lenoard and his friends, and downplaying their interests, because they aren't part of what mainstream society deems to be 'cool'. A character with so much more potential, has just been typecast as a washed up actress with such a snarky attitude. The complete opposite of cool and attractive.

2. Racism at it's best
Oh Raj - the only Indian character of the show, who migrated to America with the hopes of following his scientific pursuits and ideals for a better life. His quirks and perspective on the world is what makes him so funny - from his inability to speak to women (which has since changed on the show) to his hilarious one-liners. But there is a line between lighted humour and racism.

There is only one representation of an Indian character. Raj is characterised as a desperate man seeking to find companionship of any kind, and struggling to fit in American society. An outsider to the group, who is constantly made fun of for his Indian background and culture. This could have somewhat - very very loosely - acceptable if we had seen a Indian character who was the complete opposite of this - challenging the stereotype that Raj portrays. But have you seen an American-Indian on the show? I think not. Bring cultural awareness to the show with such influence globally, is a key responsibility that the producers have neglected entirely. Not to do is just a complete waste of prime-time opportunity.  

3. The Nerd Stereotype
Throughout the past several decades, we have seen various representations of the 'nerd' carried out through film and television. Now it is one thing to play on and create an identification with these stereotypes, it's another to enforce it time and time again as a defined characteristic. The Big Bang boys are defined and stereotyped as nerds - entirely defined by their nerd status without any true escape. They're failures to pick up dates, to be socially fluid, to excel in everyday activities is all because they are nerds in the show's universe. It's a repetitive process that is pretty degrading to the nerd community especially, as it also assumes that there is only one type of nerd in existence. So not true. People are complex - it's about time we start showing that in media. 

So, what are your thoughts on The Big Bang Theory?

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