Ok now if you're a fan of the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" and you like this blog, stop reading. You're probably going to hate me. And look, it's not that I hate people who like The Big Bang Theory and I normally don't talk about TV shows on this blog anyway, but this is something I've been meaning to get off my chest for awhile now especially now that the show has entered syndication and is on TV almost all the time. I have tried to watch The Big Bang Theory quite a few times. I wanted to like it for what it was, but the more I watched it, the more I couldn't stand it. Seriously, I think it's the worst sitcom on TV at the moment. The characters are annoying, the jokes are incredibly lazy, and the storylines have been done over and over again in sitcom world. The Big Bang Theory doesn't offer any new or interesting twists to old sitcom formulas.
And yet, The Big Bang Theory is one of the most watched sitcoms in the country, just like Two and a Half Men which is another bad show. I don't know how CBS does it, actually. In the NYC area, it's channel 2. So maybe old people just can't find the strength to change the channel when they turn on their TV? But CBS surely isn't channel 2 in other parts of the country, it airs some pretty bad/mediocre shows, and it's still "the most watched channel in the country". Maybe it's because they're the only network that emphasizes scripted TV and none of their sitcoms or dramas have big story arcs. Their best sitcom is How I Met Your Mother and it's the only CBS show I can think of that actually does have a story arc. You can watch NCIS, CSI, and all their spinoffs at any time and never be lost. Still, there's really nothing clever about any of these shows. They have no moments that people talk about for days after their shows air. They do exactly what they're supposed to do which is make you laugh or keep you interested enough in the storyline that you won't change the channel. It's not that story matters on CBS, story beats do. That's why the shows are boring to me. They all pretty much do the same thing just with slight variations. I honestly do not know how they keep coming up with new scenarios on the CSI shows. And with their sitcoms, how many different scenarios can you come up with 3-4 single white people and their antics? A few years ago, the majority of their sitcoms were family-oriented. There was the stupid husband, the smart, bitchy wife, and the overbearing parents. But at least Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens had memorable characters. The only memorable character in a CBS sitcom is Barney Stinson. Oh, and Sheldon Cooper... but for all the wrong reasons.
The reason why I hate The Big Bang Theory isn't even because it's a bad show. There are tons of bad shows on TV, but you don't see me writing blog posts about them. It's not because it's a popular show, the most popular shows on TV are ones I wouldn't touch with an 80 foot pole. A show I used to love and adore so much, The Office, has gotten ridiculously bad and yet it gets the highest ratings out of any NBC sitcom that airs on Thursdays even though NBC has a KILLER lineup on Thursdays (seriously, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, and Community are great shows... why hasn't America fully embraced them?). The shows that dominate the ratings on network TV these days are competition shows. You want to see some really great shows you have to tune into AMC, HBO, Showtime, etc. Cable TV is putting out some amazing shows, but with network TV, you have to really look for the diamonds in the rough.
So why single out The Big Bang Theory? Because the show is a fraud. The show actually has potentially interesting characters that could make for a quirky, cult classic of a show. It's rare to see a TV show revolve entirely around nerdy characters, but the problem with The Big Bang Theory is that, other than the fact that the nerds are interested in nerdy things, their wit and antics are so sitcomy. There's a lot of interesting ground you can cover with these characters, but The Big Bang Theory fails to go there. Instead, it's remarkably pedestrian. Furthermore, the character of Sheldon Cooper is just irritating. I can kind of understand the initial appeal of a character like Sheldon. He's a pretentious genius with many unlikable and anti-social qualities and that usually works in sitcom world. But the writers have never done anything interesting with him other than give him incredibly smart, pretentious things to say. There's no depth, no interesting quirks, he only exists to serve as a "comic" foil to his roommate Leonard. Plus, I'm sorry, but Jim Parsons does nothing except give Sheldon Cooper an incredibly irritating voice. Honestly, I can't take it for more than five minutes at a time. I have no idea how Jim Parsons has won two consecutive Emmys portraying this douchebag of a character. He's not unlikable in a funny way, he's unlikable in an unlikable way.
But it's not just Sheldon Cooper, it's the simplistic jokes that are peppered all throughout. Penny is stupid, Leonard is smart. Isn't their relationship dynamic hilarious? Sheldon is annoying, Leonard is annoyed by him. That's the show. Of course there's the two friends Howard and Rajesh. Rajesh is funny because he's...Indian, that's pretty much it. And the less said about Howard, the better. The Big Bang Theory takes these basic one-dimensional characters and they do nothing with them. They're all typical stock sitcom characters with no real personality. They only exist to make bad jokes. This is proven by the fact that the "audience" (or, laugh track) laughs every five seconds. The show is a fraud because it presents its characters as geniuses who are interested in science and sci-fi, but the jokes that they make are so bland. The show is basically this: "Oh I get it, Sheldon said something smart... that's funny!!" Don't believe me?
- Sheldon: I want to build a road, but I need wood. Do either of you fellows have wood?
- [Raj and Howard chuckle]
- Sheldon: I don't understand the laughter. The object of Settlers of Catan is to build roads and settlements. To do so requires wood. Now I have sheep; I need wood. Who has wood for my sheep?
That's comedy in the world of The Big Bang Theory. A dick joke, Sheldon doesn't understand it, he makes obscure reference, continues to make dick joke. Was that not enough? Actually, no...
- Sheldon: Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Does anyone have any wood?
- [Raj and Howard snicker]
- Sheldon: Oh, come on. I just want wood. Why are you making it so hard?
It's not just a bad show, it's insufferable. It shouldn't surprise anyone that The Big Bang Theory is a bad show as one of its co-creators was behind Two and a Half Men as well (Chuck Lorre). He has succeeded in making a show that makes its audience feel smart even though the jokes are incredibly stupid. It's the same old average sitcom that CBS has been putting out for years and years. The characters are booksmart but socially retarded and that alone is supposed to be funny. The character dynamics are the same as they are in any other bad sitcom. Haven't we moved past this? Modern Family, The Office (back in its heyday), Parks and Rec, 30 Rock... these shows don't just have characters who exist just to make joke after joke. There are actual storylines, interesting characters, and the shows are way funnier. Not only that, the more you watch these shows, the more they reveal new, previously unseen depths to you. Arrested Development only lasted three seasons and yet it's still endlessly watchable. The typical CBS sitcom formula is just old and dry and there's nothing truly creative that are coming out of the majority of the shows they put out. The Big Bang Theory is its biggest offender because it disguises itself as smart comedy and yet it's anything but. That's why the show sucks.