My favorite type of sitcoms are, what I call, highbrow comedies. Fraiser was the first, and will always be, my favorite highbrow comedy. I enjoyed it because the dichotomy that people with an extensive vocabulary are not necessarily haughty or persnickety. Despite their affluence they still found themselves in the same awkward predicaments as Ross, Rachael, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe. When Fraiser ended in 2004, after 11 seasons, I thought it was the end of highbrow comedy, until I found The Big Bang Theory.
I was surprised to learn there are other individuals like myself (i.e. geeks) who felt the show made a mockery of geeks. I disagree, I think The Big Bang Theory does not mock geeks. In fact, it teaches us to embrace who we are and it teaches the world to accept us the way we are.
The Big Bang Theory paralleled my life in some capacity. Actually it was almost uncanny in many situations. When I saw Leonard wearing that caffeine molecule shirt I knew I was going to enjoy how the show was analogous to my life. It starts its 10th season this year, and the show still makes me laugh myself to tears. It’s the intellectual, re-imagining of Friends.
The Tropes are the Pillars of Our Identity
The show does make heavy use of geek cultural tropes. Comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek, super heroes, video games, etc! These are not tropes, they are the pillars that define us! It is that sense of identity that makes the show so easy to relate to. Let’s face it, we were all socially awkward and intimidated by the opposite sex when we were younger. It’s possible some are the same as adults. When we were growing up, because we preferred books to booze and video games to sports games, we were “geeks”. Today, “geek” doesn’t have the same negative connotation.
When I was a kid, it was a huge insult to be a geek. Now it’s a point of pride in a weird way. – J. J. Abrams
Perhaps those that find the show offensive to geeks are marred by the demons of their past. When you spend your whole life trying to discard that label, you have a hard time letting go of that negative association. If The Big Bang Theory has taught us all anything, it’s that our perseverance will pay off. Penny and Leonard’s relationship shows us that smart is the new sexy; they don’t ignore the “nerdy guy with the hot girlfriend” dichotomy. We can “get the girl” and still be true to ourselves.
Geek is Passion
So I do understand why some may find the social structure in The Big Bang Theory difficult to believe. Bullying back then was just as awful as bullying is today. It’s very difficult to overcome. Our damaged self-esteem makes us believe we will live a lonely and clandestine life. The Big Bang Theory shows us that you can overcome bullying, love something with unbridled passion, and NEVER be afraid to show it. Let go of those old wounds because, in reality, we are all geeks about something.
Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating. – Simon Pegg