When CBS began advertising The Big Bang Theory sometime around 2007 I thought, “Oh no. The 40 Year Old Virgin got his own TV show. The American public can now laugh at nerds in their valiant but futile efforts to reproduce.” And once it got underway I never gave it another thought. A few people at work over the years have encouraged me to watch the show and I’ve flatly ignored them. My wife started watching it a couple weeks ago and obviously I caught a few episodes. Next thing I know it’s the only thing I watch in the evenings thanks to TBS who shows it like four times a night weekdays.
What’s really got me thought is the theme song. It’s written and performed by the Barenaked Ladies, clearly a plan to appeal to us gen Y’ers or whatever the hell we are. It’s simple and catchy, but because it’s a theme song in the 21st Century you only hear about 30 seconds of it. A total of eight little stanzas drum around in my head for hours on end until I get home from a hard day’s work and watch the show again. Over the weekend I didn’t watch it and it was eating away at me. Finally I broke down and tracked down an episode and when the song came on I felt a sudden surge of dopamine upstairs. I’ve never actually tried drugs, but I suspect that first hit feels much the same.
The show itself, it turns out, is quite funny. They haven’t actually crammed every nerd stereotype into one character. They’ve dissected the stereotype and found its many root sources and developed them instead. They’re still stereotypes, but you can at least name people you knew in college which their based on. There is of course a great deal of what I can only assume is painstakingly researched humor about RAM being memory and more complicated XKCD level humor and a much more abundant jokes about men ignoring women in favor of arguing miniscule details of Captain Kirk’s preferred lunch or the Green Lantern’s cannon history. I admit I’m surprised by the frequency with which I’m drawn into the argument I’m supposed to be laughing at. My wife finds that extremely amusing.
The star of the show, well the straight man at least, is actually Rusty from Christmas Vacation. I’m really hoping he says “Good talk dad” at some point. My biggest complaint about his character is he’s always full of self-pity. I don’t mind self-pity. It can be funny at times. But he’s constantly chock full of it. It gets old quite quickly. He is of course meant to be the relatable nerd. The nerd that translates the Klingon for the general audience. The only other notable name on the show is Mayim Bialik who played TV’s Blossom. A third nod to Gen Y’ers. This show is clearly designed with us in mind. Have we finally quite pandering to the Baby Boomers in our programming? Perhaps. Was I wrong to dismiss this show out of hand? Most definitely.