OK so the headline wasn’t entirely truthful. I don’t really hate anything, it’s a waste of time and I like to look at something, whether it’s film or TV and at least something of worth in it. Even if it’s a small part of an actor’s performance or the way a shot is framed. But I can dislike something and as it turns out, there’s one show on the air that I really don’t like.
Usually I wouldn’t be here writing this. If I don’t like something I just tend to leave it alone. I watched enough Everybody Loves Raymond to know that it’s a terrible show and I know I only had to watch one episode of Will and Grace to learn that it’s like being at a meal where everyone’s contempt for one another is always simmering at the surface. It’s an ugly show that mistakes meanness for funniness. But there’s one show I’ve tried watching again and again and whose popularity amongst people I know and otherwise like simply mystifies me.
The Big Bang Theory.
This isn’t a slam against anyone’s taste, but so many people recommend this show that I feel like I’m not getting something that’s clear to everyone else so I persist in watching in the hopes I’ll suddenly get it. Except all I get is more and more irritated.
First off the show is from Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a half Men. So if you’re thinking that predictable sex jokes have now been replaced with predictable ‘geek’ jokes then congratulations, you’re correct. There’s some value in the predictability of a joke happening or knowing that the boat sinks at the end. It’s anticipation with a cathartic payoff. But that isn’t what happens here, or Two and a half Men, or Will & Grace. It’s just basically 22 minutes of Christmas cracker jokes.
Arguably the most infuriating thing about The Big Bang Theory however is the faux-geekiness of the whole thing. Like everything else on the show it’s a cheap and lazy version of geeks, nerds and their culture that hasn’t moved on since Revenge of the Nerds, replete with funny voices that denote ‘This is how these people talk!’ as if they were all born with some kind of vocal condition. In fact I’m pretty sure the lead character is performing homage to Professor Frink from The Simpsons. Either that or it’s just lazy stereotyping, I’m going to say the latter.
There’s a great scene in Robocop where we’re shown a snippet of a show that features a man over excitedly claiming “I’d buy that for a dollar!” to the laughs of everyone watching. It’s lowest common denominator TV where people laugh because they’re supposed to, not because it’s actually funny. That’s not to say we’re at that level yet, but that road starts with safe and lazy sitcoms like these. A term I coined right this very second is ‘The Little Britain effect’.It’s exactly the same thing. It’s the same jokes delivered in exactly the same ways and the crowd lap it up like they’ve never heard a joke before. We’ll get to the point where a character will walk on and just say their punchline, since that’s all people seem to be clamouring to see.
I understand that comedy is an entirely subjective thing. I could sit people down in front of shows like Community (Co-incidentally also featuring a character with Aspergers, but instead deals with it in a very realistic way instead of the ‘Oh those crazy ‘Spergers’ treatment that Sheldon gets) or Parks and Recreation and not see them laugh once. I of course would question their taste and possibly never call them again but I understand that we like what we like and if a joke doesn’t make us laugh then there’s not a lot we can do about that.
Plus the episode I watched today had a fart joke – how lazy can you get?