I love nerds. Or geeks, or people who are just passionate about something (usually these types can tend toward the nerd realm), and that’s okay, cause I know I’m a nerd. I owned the Star Trek: The Next Generation BRIDGE PLAYSET in middle school and actively PLAYED WITH IT AND TOOK PICTURES OF THE ACTION FIGURES at their tactical stations. Which is TOTALLY something I can see (most of) the cast of CBS’s adorably hilarious The Big Bang Theory doing any day of the week.
Theory is one of my favorite comedies, which astounds me because it is so completely different from all the “cool” sitcoms of late. Modern Family, The Office, Parks & Rec, Community, the relatively new Raising Hope – they are “single-cam”, have no laugh tracks, and feel vastly different from shows I grew up with. Like an old dog who refuses to learn a new trick, CBS will not acquiesce to this trend, but it just doesn’t affect them – they dominate the ratings.
The Big Bang Theory works because even though it’s an old-fashioned comedy, the subject matter is timely (being a geek has never been more in-fashion), and the characters have been given the chance to evolve and have progressing storylines, while still remaining true to who they are: A bunch of harmless, lovable nerds. The marvelous cast has such fantastic chemistry, and the show is so, so consistently funny, it all adds up to charm and appeal, which Theory has in spades.
I look so forward to spending a half hour each week with these guys, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have been jealous of Kaley Cuoco’s Penny (who is ADORABLE, and relatable, and who you just root for, constantly), for getting to eat take-out with them every night. Jim Parsons’s portrayal of the socially awkward and fiercely stuck in his ways Sheldon Cooper is unparalleled – I don’t think there has ever been a more hardcore geek. I was thrilled to see him win a Golden Globe (and how darling was it to see Cuoco jump up and down to hand him his award). Johnny Galecki’s Leonard Hofstadter is the “safe” one – he’s so nice, and smart, and adorable, you just want to play some Wii with him. Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koonthrappali (Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar), are each extreme versions of guys you probably know or have known – the geek who lives with his mom, the geek who is terrified to speak in front of females – they’re all pretty nuts, but they never fail to be endearing.
I think the writers deserve a lot of credit for giving the guys their advancing storylines, without it ever feeling forced or fake. The completely asexual-seeming Sheldon now has a female friend (the AWESOME Mayim Bialik as the female version of Sheldon – Amy Farrah Fowler), but he’s still the same old Sheldon. Leonard is dating Priya (boo, hiss) but did have a lovely relationship with Penny, and even though they’re no longer together, the chemistry remains. Wolowitz might be getting married soon, Raj had a scandalous one-night stand, and with a couple of new ladies added to the mix (very successfully, I might add) Penny, Amy, and Bernadette have become the cutest little group of thrown-together besties around.
But the best part is the trickle down effect this show can have. The inspiration for this post came from talking to one of my bestest-ever friends, who is NOT a nerd, and is not into anything even remotely nerdy, and she LOVES her some BBT, and was actually talking to me about the Leonard Nimoy episode and how much she loved it, and to hear her say the name “Leonard Nimoy,” (two words I never would have conceived could have come out of her mouth) was awesomesauce. (By the way, that’s my favorite episode, and I think anything involving Penny + Sheldon = WIN. See: Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty). I cannot tell you how tickled I was that somebody who wouldn’t know Star Trek from Star Wars now knew who Leonard Nimoy was, and what his place in pop culture is. BBT is educating the uninformed masses about nerd culture in a spoonful of sugar fashion, which I’ll take, as it means that maybe I can dig out the ‘ol bridge playset and actually have somebody else to enjoy it with.