The Big Bang Theory has emerged as one of the most popular sitcoms on TV today. For those unfamiliar with the premise of the show, it’s about a group of nerd friends who all work in a university together as physicists and engineers. In their spare time, they like to play Xbox and program computers and build robots and collect comic books.
Nerd heaven is disputed by a hot girl who moves across the hall from these nerdy guys, who realize that while they may be book smart, this girl has knowledge about the world that they just don’t get. Hilarity ensues as geek meets chic.
When The Big Bang Theory was going through it’s first couple of seasons, it wasn’t super popular. Rather, it was supported and watched by the people that it was imitating. It was a show that showed the quirkiness of gamers and geeks and nerds and hackers. and it was a fairly positive portrayal, which is a relative first for TV. News of the show was spread through forums and word of mouth by the people that appreciated it.
The show focused on the nerds as they tried to adapt to having a girl in their lives, each guy reacting in his own way. And it was funny to watch, because while one of the guys wants to become more normal, his roommate defiantly rejects normalcy and continues on with his life.
As The Big Bang Theory evolved, it consciously became more mainstream. The situations of the characters became much more relatable to the masses, and the initial humor began to be diluted in favor of more approachable content and more digestible jokes.
And as the show got more popular and became more mainstream, it began to attract a huge wave of people who began to celebrate “geek chic”, ironically making a show about outcasts mainstream.
So the question is, has The Big Bang Theory become so mainstream that it lost it’s purpose and funniness?
I dunno. It’s kind of a toss up. Some of the show’s charm came from it’s unrepentant nerdiness in the first couple of seasons. The writers weren’t afraid to throw in geek and gaming culture without explaining it for those that weren’t in on the joke. Now, The Big Bang Theory has consistently edged toward “nerd lite” since becoming wildly popular.
Don’t get me wrong, the show is still funny. However, it’s now become something resembling Friends with some mandatory nerd references in order to keep up a premise. The characters of the show are no longer really nerds clashing with society in funny ways, they’re just smart guys who occasionally say something nerdy.
In fact, the “nerds” on the show are now regularly being shown as edging away from their lifestyle.
I’m really not trying to be a hipster about this. I mean, that’s a natural evolution. But I would have preferred that the show remain a moderate cult hit that was funny and hit home rather than being kind of bland but wildly popular. But maybe that’s just me.