I remember the first time I watched The Big Bang Theory.
I was in my house and some guests wanted to watch the TV while we got ready to go out for the night. Flicking through the channels we came across this curious show which, to my surprise, I’d known relatively little about. Since it was aired on E4 in the UK I’d not given it much attention – as it was outside my target demographic if I considered the typical output of that channel – but do remember commenting, when asked if I knew the program, that it was “something my Dad thinks is the funniest show on the planet”
I was informed by consensus that my Dad was correct and we moved on
Some months later I found myself casually filtering into watching The Big Bang Theory, in the same way that I’ve become “occassionally obsessed” with shows like My Little Pony, Lie to Me, Castle and Glee in recent memory. Because these shows have normally started a few months – or even years – before they’ve crossed my radar, I’ll mass purchase seasons on DVD or from US suppliers and watch the shows in sequence. I’m not very patient when it comes to cliffhangers and I don’t want to wait several days for the next installment.
In the case of Arrested Development, for example, a friend of mine commented that what took me five seconds to view (switching over from the end of Season 3 to the beginning of Season 4) he had waited 7 years to see. I just watched all the episodes over the space of a week and then started watching the new series on a Netflix exclusive package.
So, there I was, watching episode after episode of the Big Bang Theory. That’s not as mundane as you’d imagine because the early episodes had a lot of laughs for me and they’re run time of 22 minutes (excluding all those US commercials from their TV counterparts) meant that I could easily watch 25% of a season in one night. If I took a day off I might even get through the entire thing.
The little jokes were what kept me watching. I enjoyed the activities of two geeks, and their academic associates, attempting to “merge” with “normality” while engaging in their own pursuits at the same time. Arguments over the value of a Geordi Le Forge figure, or the likely successor to Batman following Bruce Wayne made for a relatable viewing – but something was up.
As the show continued on I was disappointed to see the introduction of more permenant cast members. It’s not that I didn’t want Howard and Sheldon to find companionship and tackle the stereotype that “even nerds score” but I became frustrated as to how similar the show as becomming, in both writing style and shooting, to Friends. With the introduction of three stable female leads battling the four male leads – as well as a Gunther type character in the comic book store – the parallels and comparions just kept on coming. And coming. And coming.
Eventually I stopped watching. I literally gave up caring. It’s probably because the show wasn’t cancelled upon it’s sixth season. And that makes sense to me. With Arrested Development, Lie to Me – heck, even My Little Pony, there has only been so many episodes made – once I’ve finished watching everything I either wait for a new season or (as in the case of CSI Las Vegas) give up, because the show bores me. The same characters, the same styles, the same jokes. And in the case of BBT – the same stereotypical nonsense that just started making a mockery of what it means to be a Geek.
In April 2013 I was asked to write a piece about that subject for a friends website, Geek Apocalypse, and did so – I compared being a geek like trying to define yourself using a dating website and not really knowing what you’re looking for. We all go through phases, obsessions and interests, some die down and some stay with us – but some just stop becomming of interest. I can sympathize, in one sense, with the BBT actors; they’re sick of playing the same characters for several years on TV. But they’re also earning a comfortable living and not waiting tables in Hollywood hoping somebody – anybody – will read their script.
I know which one I’d prefer.