Fans of The Big Bang Theory, sit down. It’s time we had this talk. If you watched the show 11 years ago, you found it funny. We all did. That said, I have been rewatching the show for the first time since it ended and I hate to break it to you but after a bit of social awakening, I have realised that I was stupid and it’s very very homophobic, casteist, racist, sexist, misogynistic, among other things.
1. First of all, I thought it was hilarious when I was 18. Now, not so much. Just take a look at these couple of supposedly funny clips, albeit without the laughter tracks.
Now, you could say this for every sitcom that’s ever existed and you would be correct. Which is why, you need to scroll down because this is just the tip of the crappy iceberg.
2. The women were either written as eye-candy/dumb blonde or they were short and hence, overly controlling, or they wore 15 layers of clothing in California’s heat. While the men were supposed to be harmless geeks despite being total creeps.
Penny is introduced as a simple mid-Western girl, who plays fast and loose with her ‘morals’. And that remains her sole purpose on the show. And that defines her character throughout the course of the series, BTW. Then we get to Bernadette and Amy, both of whom, upon closer inspection, look like they were specifically designed to cater to the needs of their male counterparts.
Bernie lived to tame Howard’s creepiness, while Amy lived to be miserable around Sheldon.
Without the men in their lives, these women ran out of a purpose despite being established scientists in their fields.
3. There’s a lot of vague pop culture references, without any actual jokes. Just an unholy amalgamation of random references to Star Trek, Star Wars, DC, Marvel, Game of Thrones, whatever.
Here’s an example to help you understand what I am talking about.
This perfectly encapsulates why I hate “The Big Bang Theory” pic.twitter.com/G2P4TLyUKy— Lyle Rath (@LyleRath) January 27, 2016
See, anyone can Google a bunch of obscure pop culture references. But for a comedy show to work, you need to have jokes. You can Google those too. But apparently, nobody told them that for 11 bloody ears. Yeah, that’s the whole duration of the show.
4. Back to the problematic aspect of it, the show is notoriously homophobic. That is something my 18-year-self was dumb enough to laugh at but once you know the crappy hand the LGBTQI community has been dealt, you begin to cringe at crap like this.
Every time someone insuniates that Raj and Howard might love each other, they get so uncomfortable, you would think there are dicks raining out of the sky.
FYI, it’s not the 1980s anymore. You can be close to your bros without someone shouting gay from the corner of the class.
5. At first sight, it looks good to have women scientists on the show, one of whom is an actual scientist. That’s right. But then again, upon some introspection, I have come to conclude that it simply demonises women in STEM.
For the uninitiated, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Take Dr Beverly Hoffstadter for example. She’s shown to be robotic, incapable of loving her own son, just because she’s a woman of science. Dr Amy Farah Fowler is shown to have been incapable of holding a conversation that doesn’t end up with her looking needy and desperate.
Amy solely exists so that Sheldon can marry her someday.
Dr Bernadette Rostenkowski is shown to be often indulging in unethical choices to make more money. Dr Leslie Winkle is also emotionally unavailable except when she’s trying to get laid with Leonard. All the women scientists on the show are one-dimensional.
At a time, when women are joining STEM more than ever, these characters are just poor examples for children everywhere who might have a proclivity for the subjects.
6. The show revolves around socially awkward scientists but every 2nd joke basically punches down on socially awkward and quite often neurodivergent people.
Be it Sheldon’s inability to understand social cues or Raj’s issue with not being able to talk to women, the show just throws them under the same umbrella and asks us to deal with it. It regularly bullies characters like Bert, Kripke and Stuart, then adds a laughter track and tells us it’s okay to be a**holes to these people because they can’t do anything about it.
Of course, you do, Stuart. Your buddies are Grade A international A-holes.
7. And then, there is the creepiness of Howard Wolowitz.
During the first few seasons, the show passes off literal sexual harassment as humour. Oh, you don’t believe me? That’s alright.
Remember that time, when Howard set up a satellite camera to spy on unsuspecting models on America’s Next Top Model?
Or the time, he set up a camera to spy on Penny, or the time, he made his robot stand under Penny or the million times he verbally harrassed Penny by saying sexually explicit stuff that she wasn’t comfortable with?
Or the other countless instances, where he boasts about having sexually harassed women but the tone dresses him up as just some weird guy looking for love. If you know a Howard, run the F away from his friends and him. I know, most people think he’s funny…
8. Oh, and did I mention that the show is incredibly racist.
Raj’s treatment on the show is beyond pathetic. Firstly, he’s shown a stereotypical Indian boy from Delhi, who speaks fluent Hindi with his parents but has a South Indian last name.
He’s also very very rich but decides to wear clothes that make him look like Amol Palekar from the 80s, but unironically.
He can’t talk to women because that’s apparently how Indians are. That, and ‘Bobs and Vagene’. Honestly, I would be less offended if they went with ‘Bobs and Vagene’ because at least that would be based on some reality.
9. Weirdly, the show has also made casteist jokes.
In one of the episodes, where Raj has to meet Lalita Gupta for an arranged date, he explains to his friends why he hated her. It was because when they were kids, she would kick him in the nuts and called him an untouchable.
Now, if you think about it, it is pretty on-brand for upper-caste Indian children to use the term ‘untouchables’ as an insult. But the show doesn’t do it as satire. Instead, it adds a laughter track at the end of it.
If that doesn’t seem as offensive, imagine someone from any other community, say a white man, saying he used to get called the N-word as a kid and there’s a laugh track at the end of it. Or a straight guy complaining about someone calling them the F-word and we all just curl up and laugh at it without addressing the systemic oppression.
10. The show ends with making Penny pregnant, even though she never once wanted it throughout the course of the series.
Penny didn’t need to be pregnant. She didn’t want to be. Hell, she was very vocal about it too. But if you are a male writer, you probably think that children make a woman complete, which makes you a patriarchal piece of crap.
There was no need for Penny to have a baby. It didn’t serve any purpose. Her character didn’t need it at all. The only reason that happened was to cater to the show’s male audience who believed that Penny’s character development started as a promiscuous woman and could only be completed when she becomes a mother.
11. Oh, and did I mention creepy? Apparently not enough. So here we go again.
Imagine, you are a 20-something-year-old woman who’s just moved into a new city, looking for a career and your neighbours are all weird nerds, who very publicly tell you all the time that they want to get into your pants? Just how freaking creeped out would you be?
Next time, I am gonna do FRIENDS. Maybe, even Harry Potter.