Not with a bang, but a whimper


Jonathan H. Ellyson and Jonathan Ellyson

Bob Newhart, a man whom I consider the greatest comedy actor of all time, has only earned one Emmy in his 52-year career. He didn’t win it for his long-running sitcoms “The Bob Newhart Show” or “Newhart” from the ‘70s and ‘80s. No, he won for a guest appearance on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory”.

“The Big Bang Theory” is a Chuck Lorre show, and like his others – “Two and a Half Men” and “Mike & Molly” – it’s a sitcom heavily reliant on a laugh track. The problem I have with all Chuck Lorre shows is what they turn into. They might start off witty and entertaining, but once they hit that large audience mark they start pandering. Look at “Two and a Half Men.” Even Charlie Sheen was getting tired of the same dumb jokes after eight seasons.

The main problem with “The Big Bang Theory” is its misrepresentation of a social group for the sake of comedy. I consider it highly offensive. Let’s rewind to the ‘90s and early ‘00s culture many of us grew up in. If you were smart, and liked science and certain media you were a “nerd.” If you were a “nerd,” you were beaten up, called names, and had your lunch money stolen. Fast forward to today and we have a show that takes members of that segment of the population, over-generalizes them and makes fun of them for the sake of comedy.

I enjoyed the first couple of seasons when the main characters were physicists at a university. They hung out as friends and made jokes about string theory. Then the writers gave the lead character Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, a catch phrase and aired episode after episode of him unable to respond to social situations. There were more scenes in the comic book store than in a lab. You see from the writing credits the show got rid of the science consultants.

Even though CBS makes a show entertaining and a little educational at the same time, they do it by making fun of four adults who can’t handle real world social situations. This is disrespectful to these people who exist and are going to struggle to survive in a society that so prominently laughs at them.

With a grain of salt I watched the episode Newhart guest starred in. He basically played their TV universe’s version of Bill Nye. While they generally emphasized the “Kaley Cuoco is a ditzy blond” aspect of the show, I laughed sincerely at every line delivered by my comedy hero. I just wish his victory last Sunday could have been from a show that isn’t such a poorly managed piece of trash.