In response to RomanJones
's journal/comic that tears TBBT down, I must express my thoughts on the subject.
, I hear you, and I can completely
understand where you're coming from. I am not at all here to point fingers and scream "you're wrong!" because I am still not really sure that I'm right. But this is my gut reaction to TBBT.
But first, a little bit of background: A few years ago, the company my husband works for was commissioned to make a game for TBBT on Facebook. His assignment before development began was to watch the show and become familiar with it. Now, I think my hubby has a little bit of OCD, because he took that to mean "watch the whole thing, don't skip any, no exceptions." I watched it with him because it was either that or gouge out my eye with a magnet, and TBBT seemed a little better than that.
Throughout the whole first season and most of the second, I frequently revisited my decision. "Would a magnet have been better?" I asked myself. It was loathsome and terrible and the worst sort of nerd blackface you've ever seen. I was nightly berating my husband for continuing to watch the show. But then...
I don't know what precisely changed, or if it was any one thing. More female characters were introduced, the writing got a little better, what have you, but I think over 6 seasons, the show has developed and changed in ways that I like quite a bit.
Now, it takes these seven characters (Raj, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Penny, Bernadette, and Amy) and it does something really edgy and new, I think: it shows them in all their naked, ugly glory. The tics, the inappropriate behavior, the obsessive and/or compulsive tendencies, the "unacceptable" hobbies; they're all on display. Now, I know that detractors of the show say "They're on display for people to point and laugh at!" and it's possible that that's even the intention of the creators. But, really, if people really enjoy making fun of nerds, aren't there plenty of venues to do that in? In living color? Your local malt shoppe, perhaps. A locker room. The hallways at school or at work. Because, to me, it's on display so that I know there are people out there like me. They play D&D, they play TCGs, they buy so many comic books they can't afford to buy food, you name it. I, or people I know & love, do all three of these things. And you know what? The characters in TBBT do it without shame. They don't make fun of each other for it, and they aren't made fun of by other people for it. Each and every character, minus Penny, is a professional intellectual, with a Masters degree or better, working in their field and making good money. Penny is the more "average" girl who dresses nice, watches football, and has been a waitress for the entire show, and is sort of the odd man out, but (and this is important) she loves her nerdy friends, and they love her back.
I also find it interesting that they don't paint all these social rejects with the same brush. They all have varying levels of social acceptableness; Howard dresses like a 70s pimp on casual Friday, Amy dresses like she inherited the wardrobe of a 90-year-old librarian when she died. But Raj, Leonard, Sheldon, and Bernadette dress within the bell curve of "normal," and that's fine too. Raj can't speak to women, even women he knows, without alcohol. (I know guys like that.) Sheldon is probably legitimately mentally ill, but his relationship with Amy can be very sweet, even though normal people (and even nearly-normals like me) have a very hard time understanding what Amy's getting out of it. They've all got different things that they're "weird" about. I can relate to that, like, so so so much.
And I like the show because it shows them in the world in which they're the top dogs: competing for grants, getting papers published, going on research projects in Antarctica or into space. No one mocks them, and if they did, it would be those people who were the antagonists. There would be no one laughing with them. They have relationships, in some cases get married. They (hopefully, at some point for the love of god please) realize they're gay.
I feel a lot more alienated by shows like Friends or How I Met Your Mother because there is no one, in any of these shows, who shares my interests. If I were to meet them, there'd be awkward silence and eyebrow-raising before we turned our backs on each other. I'd be the one made to feel inadequate. I would be the minority. And people like Sheldon, Leonard, Amy, Raj and Howard would undoubtedly be the butts of jokes on shows like that. "How annoying! How inappropriate! Can't they take a hint?" would probably be the theme. In almost ALL of modern media, "nerds" are represented in very negative, very stereotypical lights, which is to say, mouthbreathers, nasal voices, glasses, happy-the-cool-kids-are-letting-them-do-their-homework sorts of people.
I guess what TBBT means to me is, whatever the intentions of the creators and however "normals" view the characters, whether they sit and point and laugh and hate the characters' guts or whatever; to me, this show is about me and my friends and all our quirks and idiosyncrasies and inappropriate behaviors and unacceptable hobbies, and it shows people who are able to live full, happy, productive, loved and loving lives even so. They don't sugar coat us or make us seem normal to pet our egos or make "normals" more comfortable with us; that would be insincere and inaccurate. I'm happy they left the spots on. I feel like social reject intellectuals like me and my friends are finally having a voice, and the fact that the show is actually popular seems like a good thing.
I dunno. Maybe I'm wrong and it's just nerd zoo, but I hope I'm right. But it takes easing into, because sometimes you don't see Michelle Pfeiffer in the mirror.