I saw yesterday that The Big Bang Theory has been given another 3 seasons. Since I have watched this show almost religiously since episode 1 I was a bit surprised that first reaction to this news was disappointment. To be honest I’ve not been enjoying the show as much lately and it is mostly due to the portrayal of the characters, especially (but not limited to) the women on the show.
Let’s start with the girls. It’s a show about archetypes so we shall forgive them bubbly blonde party girl Penny, but TBBT has really missed an opportunity to represent geeky girls and women in the show. I had high hopes when they introduced some intellectual female characters as show regulars with Bernadette and Amy, but at every turn the show enforces the stereotype that girls don’t like sci-fi, or play D&D, or read comic books. Well let me tell you that I am a girl and I love sci-fi, and I play D&D, and I read comic books, and not only that, SO DOES MY MUM! But no, in the world of TBBT girls from all walks of life prefer girlie things like shoe shopping and make-overs and only boys are allowed to geek out over steam trains. The closest the show has come to having a female character who is equivalent to the boys was Lesley Winkle, who seemed to vanish quite early. I suppose it’s too much to ask for a women in the show who’s part of the inner geek group rather than just a love interest for one of the blokes. So I would like to ask TBBT writers to think carefully about what they want to do with those three years they’ve been given, and maybe take a page out of Joss Whedon’s book and give us a variety of believable girl geeks. I do like Amy and Bernadette, but the constant separation of Penny’s girls and Leonard’s boys when it comes to leisure activities is more like a Victorian dinner party than a group of friends in modern day LA.
But it’s not just the female characters that get a tough time from the writers. Let’s take Stuart. Poor Stuart, initially presented to us as a credible rival for Penny’s affection with his own comic book business, shy charm, and wonderful artistic talent. Now his character has been completely rewritten to make him a pitiful joke. The fact that his business is struggling and he has to rely on welfare to survive and is clearly suffering from depression is supposed to be funny? Yes, mental health conditions are hilarious. Please use your three seasons to give Stuart a break, the poor guy deserves it.
I could go on. Poor old Raj probably deserves a place in this rant, but it’s getting a bit long now so I’ll leave it there. Just to be clear, I know I do not have to watch this show, but I am invested in the characters and I’d like to know what happens. The fact that the stereotypes have got worse and the jokes become crueler as the seasons have gone on is what disappoints me. 3 season renewal just sends a message to the show’s makers that this is something they are doing right and it’s what people like, so they’ll probably just do it more. But we girl geeks watch the show because we like the geek culture, and we like Star Wars jokes, and we’re just as gutted as Sheldon that Firefly got cancelled. It would be nice if we could be represented, or at least acknowledged, in the next three seasons.