Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Familiarity/Comedy Hypothesis

We have recently become converts to The Big Bang Theory (um, the tv show rather than the theory itself. Although we are fans of that, too).

I was initially wary of it as I had assumed it would mainly consist of geek-bashing. A little paranoid of me perhaps but, let’s face it, for the media in general geek-bashing is normally like shooting fish in a barrel, if rather more common. Did I really want to watch a show that was entirely about “Fnar fnar, geeks are losers, fnar fnar”?

As it turns out, TBBT is funny, well observed and well informed, and all mockery is done with affection. Perhaps non-geeks find it funny too, but I hope the majority of its audience are laughing because they recognise the references, and do indeed recognise that “Wednesday Night is Halo Night”. For me personally much of the humour comes from familiarity; we’ve had plenty of discussions concerning Superman down the pub for example, and Penny’s brief addiction to a dragons-and-sorcery type video game had me cringing with recognition ever so slightly too much (anyone who has tried to talk to me about anything other than Dragon Age: Origins for the last four months will know why).

It still has its wee problems for me- there are no female geeks present still (Leslie Winkle is a science geek, and I’m talkin’ about genre geeks, although it’s worth stating that I’m only halfway through series 2) and all the guys are depicted as being utterly useless with women*, which is a little unfair. I know geeks who are married, in long term relationships, or who date around a lot. But I’m just being whingy.

It doesn’t really matter. The relationships that are shown in TBBT are sweet and funny, and it has also given us a bit of a comedy legend in Dr Sheldon Cooper. Much of the humour is centred around his complete inability to interact with the human race, and his enormous superiority complex, but he remains likable. And worryingly, I find I understand his point of view more and more- not the super-genius side of it, obviously, but the general impatience for human beings and the unshakeable belief in how “right” he is… I sort of feel like that sometimes. Bit worrying. It’s my mum’s dvds we’ve borrowed, as she’s a huge fan; I hope that isn’t just because Sheldon reminds her of what a pain in the arse I was to live with…

*I sometimes wonder if it is in fact women who are useless with geeks. I usually think this when I hear a woman calling herself an “xbox widow” or complaining about having to go and watch the new Star Trek movie. What’s wrong with you?! But then, I have a slightly skewed perspective.


  1. TBBT is indeed awesome! I'm hungrily downloading every episode as they appear on the TorRenTz :-)

  2. And yes, women of the world, embrace your male geek! Understand him! Play video/computer games with him! You'll realise what you were missing out on ;-)

  3. And don't forget that Lady Geeks exist too! ;)

    Geek men are clever, and funny, and invariably own all of Farscape on DVD. Where's the downside?!

  4. true fact ... If I dont sing out "They Built the pyramids" Sharon gets all bent out of shape until I promise to make an extra special effort to sing it out on the next episode ! OCD Relationship pressure FTW

    Love the show and the post and I cant leave without saying: For Ferelden !

  5. Nicholas, that's fantastic. :D

    We also like to sing along to the theme tune, but only by randomly shouting out "PYRAMIDS!" in different places... huh, that sounded a lot cooler before I wrote it down.

    In another alarming insight into our relationship, I once threatened to have a t-shirt made with "Tits Out For Ferelden!" on it, so that is now a favourite phrase of ours.

  6. Once you go Geek, you never go back

  7. I'm surprised you have only just started watching it. I watched from the beginning - loved it.

    My only issue is that I find Penny a little too much the stereotypical dumb blonde at times.

    Think you hit the nail on the head regarding women and geeks. I may not be able to get into call of duty but there are plenty of other games on the playstation that I can :)

  8. For some reason I never really caught it on telly, not often enough to get into it, anyway. Mum finally forced us to borrow the DVDs. ;)