The Big Bang Theory is far from the worst thing on television, but this insipidly bland sitcom deserves all the hate that’s thrown its way. Just like Two and a Half Men before it, this Chuck Lorre comedy is plagued with lazy writing, caricature-level characters and shallow storylines. Although it’s painted with a sheen of nerd culture, Big Bang is the most uncreatively mainstream show around. There are some points which are frequently used to defend the sitcom, but none are particularly persuasive and only further my growing disdain for the show.
1) “It’s popular”
In the words of the superior sitcom Peep Show: “People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis. You can’t trust people”. If we’ve learned anything from The Phantom Menace or Michael Bay’s Transformers, it’s that a product’s popularity or financial success doesn’t indicate its quality. The Big Bang Theory feels like it was created in a laboratory to have the broadest appeal possible. It’s great to have a wide variety of viewers, but this is definitely the reason it feels so bland. In CBS’ desperate attempt to create a marketable successor to Two and a Half Men, Lorre crafted an innocuous and flavourless nothing of a sitcom. Although it’s disguised by a veneer of nerd culture, Big Bang is one big cliché-fest. It’s fine if you like vanilla, but there are so many more exciting flavours to choose from.
2) “They talked about Star Trek XD”
I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the show’s laugh track, but I’m not really sure this is a valid criticism. What I can’t forgive is the complete lack of jokes. Fans will often point to the show’s nerdiness as its unique selling point, but it’s purely superficial. Unlike the similarly geeky I.T Crowd, Big Bang makes no effort to construct actual jokes around its constant pop-culture references. Simply mentioning Star Wars or Back to the Future garners a massive laugh from the audience. It really just boils down to laughing at these characters for enjoying nerdy things. There are admittedly series of running gags that don’t rely on regurgitating references, but these are mostly just painfully lazy one-liners. Sheldon is obviously the show’s breakout character, but this is only because of his inane try-hard catchphrases. Bazinga!
3) “It’s intelligent”
There’s a difference between having intelligent characters and having intelligent dialogue. Just because Sheldon and Leonard have PHDs doesn’t mean that Big Bang is well written, clever or witty. They might have a production scientific advisor to fact check references to their work, but it’s never used to craft a joke. Just like the pop-culture references, the gang’s intelligence is only used as a punchline. It’s fine to absorb and even enjoy bottom-of-the-barrel entertainment, but it’s ridiculous to claim that it’s clever.
I’m certainly not saying that you can’t enjoy The Big Bang Theory. It’s undeniably a massive hit and me moaning isn’t going to change that. If you’re a fan of the Sheldon’s antics, more power to you! With Young Sheldon‘s good early reviews, I can only hope that CBS’s most profitable show is on the up.
Check out our “In Defence of The Big Bang Theory” for a different side of the argument!