“The Big Bang Theory” is the most popular comedy show in America. And never did I feel more British! You see the thing is I just don’t get it. I don’t believe its premise, can’t comprehend its popularity and most of all I am baffled by its longevity. I feel like the only believer of Newtonian physics amongst an America full of Aristotelian advocates. (See what I did there)?!
My list of favourite TV comedy series of all time is dominated by American shows. “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would be in my all-time top three. But nothing would figure from the last decade. If there has been a tragic demise in the quality of American situation comedy over the last ten years, then “the Big BangTheory” is undoubtedly the poster boy for that malaise. If I sound like I am apologising and qualifying my criticism already then you are correct. Why? Because I am apprehensive.
The Big Bang theory – Baby food comedy
You see I know the series has its devotees. In fact, its fans are practically evangelical in their commitment. But to me, the programme is just a giant “Meh”. It is a comedy I can “watch” while reading at the same time. It is the baby food of comedy. Easily digested, instantly forgotten. Sure it has a few good lines, but the substance of the show is basically “Friends” with geeks. Comedy should be dangerous and edgy, this is “Father Knows Best” for the millennial generation.
In essence, any show that relies on the central characters sitting around a couch/coffee table/ diner booth facing the audience and interacting in a kooky way is “I Love Lucy” in colour. It’s been done. Often.
I accept that in its first few seasons back in 1954 or whenever it had promise. But the character arc of every principal is now burnt out, and treading water, while some of the more peripheral characters like Bernadette are just plain annoying. The world has moved on, this comedy hasn’t. Are nerds really that funny anymore? In fact were they ever? It was ironic once, but billionaires Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg put paid to that gag. Incidentally how poorly paid are experimental physicists in the USA that they have to apartment share for ten years in a block with a malfunctioning elevator? McDonald’s pays better.
“Young Sheldon” – Jumping the shark.
Not that CBS cares about this of course. It must be a massive income generator. So much so that the dreaded “spin-off” has now reared its dysfunctional head. I tremble to think how bad “Young Sheldon” will be. But if I feel apprehensive, spare a thought for just how gut churning it must be for the perpetually typecast male leads. I can guarantee the following conversation two years hence.
L.A. Theatrical Agent. “ Hey, Johnny/Jim/Simon/Kunal. I have an excellent offer for you. CBS wants you to play young Sheldon’s uncle/dad/neighbour/principal!….Hello?…Are you there?…Hello?…”
For a look at how American comic books fearlessly battled the “Communist red menace” in the 1950’s read my blog on http://www.englishmanlovesamerica.com/cold-war-comics/