You would think that I would like the big bang theory. I mean it on the surface it seems like it’s marketed toward me, or people like me. The problem is, even while they’re trying to court us into watching, even while they promise that this is OUR show (“Smart is the new sexy!” one ad declares), they are spending most of thier time on the show making fun of us.
That’s my real dilemma, I never quite feel comfortable watching the it – I feel like I straddle the line between being in on the joke, and being the butt of the joke, and far too often, they cross over on to the side of me feeling like I’m being made fun of. It’s an exaggerated parody of course, but nevertheless it still feels insulting.
Where this really shows, is in the “control” character. Perhaps we should refer to her as the “normal “character. Penny is supposed to be the Every-man that people can relate to, the one who helps the average viewer enter into this world. The thing is, Penny is a horrible person. I’m going to come right out and unapologeticly slut shame here, because quite frankly Penny deserves it. She’s been ridden more times than a second-hand Harley and this is portrayed as normal and acceptable behavior. Please don’t give me any nonsense about her being an empowered free spirit who takes control of her own sexuality and can make whatever choices she wishes. Her behavior is unhealthy from an emotional standpoint and she’s outright admitted it. And this is an issue for me because she actually IS the one being held up as the positive role model – and if not that, then at least she’s portrayed as the ideal the rest of the characters wish to strive for.
There’s more to Penny that bothers me though. We don’t really ever come out and say it, but watch the show – Penny is an alcoholic. What we see isn’t just social drinking, it’s compulsive. It’s rooted in a deep self loathing, and part of that can probably be traced back to not being made to feel worthwhile by her father. I get that, but this is supposed to be the sympathetic character that everybody relates to. This is supposed to be the “normal character” Occasionally she’s called out for her bad behavior, but it’s defended or shrugged off. It’s never consequential. If there’s any humor to be found in it, it may be in her lack of intellect especially in comparison to The other girls in their show that are smarter than her, but even then it’s portrayed as the preferred state. Better to be pretty and popular than an egghead. Bernadette and Amy are portrayed as outcasts and abnormal.
I don’t like this I still feel like I’m being made fun of, and that the stereotypes presented are not being betrayed in a positive light that and you know what, that’s the heart of the problem. Back in the day, the “revenge of the nerds” movies may have made you root for the nerds, but they never made you feel like it was okay to be one of them. I have no problems with stereotypes on screen, the stereotypes exist for a reason – because people like this exist in great numbers. But if the stereotypes you are displaying are the nucleus of both your program and its audience, you owe it to yourself to make sure they come off well, and that’s just not the case here. Big Bang Theory could be a fun show, often it is. But I can’t recommend it, because to often I feel like I’m being made fun off in it, and that’s not who I want to be or what I want out of my entertainment.