Okay I have a gripe and it’s about “The Big Bang Theory.” Or rather, it’s about how people viewed last night’s episode.
First off, it was a fantastic episode. Before it came out, people were freaking out. Nerd girls called foul and nerds everywhere threw up their hands and chalked it up to “typical mainstream bologna.” But after watching it, I think it was the antithesis of what everyone believed. Here’s why:
#1 Penny had been into a comic book store before, but putting that aside, she was willing to learn something new about someone she loved. So were the other girls. This is not a mainstream mindset by any means. If you have any “normal, non-geeks” family members like I do, you probably already know that they don’t care and any ounce of effort they do show interest is sequestered to weird looks and shrugs. NOT going out of their way to learn more about you.
#2 Once they were introduced to the plots involving Thor and other comics, they tried to understand the comic better. All three women went back and reread the comic books/ graphic novels. And, when the debates started, they all grabbed more comic books. This conveys two things. One, comic books in themselves are interesting enough to hold any reader. And two, as characters, their interests shows the non geek world that average people can find this stuff interesting, eliminating the stigma of “geek” and “nerd” that we all know is there, but are not willing to discuss.
#3 In spite of this “outrage,” all of the cosplay stuff was done tastefully. The average American watches it and sees what they always see, but they also see their favorite characters behind it. This reduces the stigma while creating a sense of empathy for a misunderstood group.
#4 The coffee shop scene clinched it for me. This wasn’t just a horrible event for Raj, Wollowitz, Leonard and Sheldon. This was an event for all the world to see. They were beat down and turned out, even by law enforcement who did not understand why they do what they do. You get to see the full picture, something poignant about the love people have for a hobby, strange or otherwise.
#5 Sheldon’s reaction was when I realized this wasn’t just an average episode. The traumatic event was enough for Sheldon, someone who has social ineptness, to realize that what he loves is not what everyone else loves. On the contrary, Sheldon did have some understanding of what it was like to be bullied as a child. Now, he receives it as an adult and he’s not angry or incredulous. He’s sad. Just sad. Maybe Raj cut through some of the poignancy with humor, but it was still there. Sheldon, the most innocent of the group, had lost his sense of innocence.
#6 In the end, the girls are fighting over comic book characters and debating like the boys do. When they come home after a horribly disastrous day, they’re confused and disoriented from the debate. But it shows them, and the audience hope.
I have always loved The Big Bang Theory so of course I’m biased. But it upsets me just as much when nerds and geeks pass the same judgments that anyone else does. We pigeon-hole ourselves into our roles for fear of what others may do to us, and the moment something takes us out of our comfort zone, we retaliate. This episode took us out of our comfort zone. It showed us things that have happened to a lot of us and it showed it on a mainstream level.
If you haven’t watched last night’s episode, I highly recommend it. Make the decision for yourself and think about both sides of the story. It may just surprise you. ~S
P.S. It’s likely nerds and geeks work on the show. You don’t think they’d represent?