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Life Skills for Fanboys:  Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

The Conundrum

When I was a young geek, my favorite activities included in order:  Dungeons and Dragons, watching television, reading comic books and reading books.  (Had I access to the Internet, I have no doubt that would be at the top of the list.)  The response of my folks upon seeing me engage in any of these activities was always the same:  “What are you doing inside?  Go outside and get some fresh air!”  I cannot tell you how many times I was lectured for wasting my time with most of the listed activities and yet—

My folks love The Big Bang Theory.  Not since Everybody Loves Raymond do my folks laugh so uproariously at the antics of those nerds.  But why?  Why aren’t they yelling at the TV?  Why aren’t they demanding to know why the main characters don’t go outside more?


Look, I get it.  Sitcoms are supposed to be simple.  I’ve even written a few.  Simplification means glossing over the finer details.  TBBT isn’t really all that different from any other half hour comedy on TV.  You’ve got characters that are always put upon and one main guy with a big personality that is always causing trouble.  The stories are broad to appeal to the largest audiences.  You always have three locations and a tight three act structure.

It’s fun to play around with it.  Even if it is formulaic.  But I can’t get over the fact that my folks (not geeks) laugh at the stereotype of geek, but were constantly annoyed at my antics.

My Big Bang Theory

Maybe for my folks, the comedy hits home because they raised a geek.  Now that they’re not, they can enjoy those antics that formerly confounded them because they don’t have so much invested in Sheldon and his crew.  From afar, it looks funny, but close up, too annoying.

But for me, as geek, I cannot stand to watch the show.  For me it’s too simplistic and formulaic.  Geeks are not uniformly social misfits with girl problems.  Not all scientists conform to one of the characters from Revenge of the Nerds, nor is a visit to your local comic book shop one long geekfest of pencil protectors, asthma inhalers and glasses.  I guess TBBT is no more appealing for me than 2 Broke Girls is for real waitresses or Parks and Rec is for real government bureaucrats.

Does TBBT Do Harm?

No.  Anyone stupid enough to take a cue from a sitcom with regard to other groups of people deserves to be embarrassed, mocked and ridiculed.  That being said, there are a lot of stupid people in the world.  And while playing to the broadest possible audience often means dumbing things down, there has to be enough geeks out there to make a much more impressive and nuanced version of TBBT.

I think that television would be a much better place with fewer TBBT’s and much more Rick and Morty’s.  Anyway, that’s one geek’s opinion.

 Previous Columns

Obesity at Cons

The Art of Conversation

Grooming The Line Between Fans and Pros

Geek Elitism

Convention Panels

Convention Volunteers

Food Gifts Women and Cons

Get Your Room Party Together

Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons

The Face of Geek Needs Work

Fixing the Face of Geek

Franchise Worship

Presenting Your Project

The New Image?

Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool

 Rethinking the Comic Book Con

Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People