Friends and acquaintances periodically tell me that, as someone in the science and technology field, I would love The Big Bang Theory, and I should check it out. And now the New York Times has published an article about the show.
The thing is, I have checked it out, and it’s not for me. The article notes that “many of the people who grouse [...] about the show have not seen very much of it,” and that some incorrectly think that it puts forth the stereotype of the “dumb blonde”. That’s not my problem with it; I just don’t find it funny.
I do have a bit of a problem with the other side of the stereotype: that it presents all the scientists as social misfits. Some are, yes, but certainly not all, and I’d say that it’s really a minority. People may get that perception because what such people do with their working lives is beyond the understanding of most others, but they do have lives outside of work. Most of the scientists I know are interesting people, with families and friends, with hobbies and interests, who enjoy art, culture, food, conversation, beer, and sports. They are not socially inept. (And, in fact, I suggest that someone unable to hold a conversation that doesn’t involve football is as much a “misfit” as one who can only talk about lab experiments.)
But, really, that’s a minor point: it’s meant to be silly, and I don’t take it seriously enough to be worried about that. It’s just, as I say, that I haven’t found the show funny, the few times I’ve taken it for a spin
What I really found interesting, though, was the final point in the article:
[Creator/producer/writer Chuck] Lorre said that the whole “challenge and joy” of a series like this is character development. “Maybe at the end of the day this will inspire some kids to go into physics,” he added, “just like ‘Cheers’ inspired countless young people to go into bars.”
It’s a scary thought that “Cheers inspired countless young people to go into bars,” though I suppose it’s true. That never occurred to me; I wonder whether Seinfeld prompted folks to be complete dufuses, and whether Green Acres moved people out of the cities and onto farms. What, I wonder, did Gomer Pyle do for Marine Corps recruitment?
Anyway, I can’t imagine that Mr Lorre really thinks that portrayal of scientists will encourage viewers to follow the characters into scientific fields. But maybe I’ll give the show another try.