Why ‘The Big Bang Theory’ utterly fails to describe Geek and Nerd culture

The roleplayers

The roleplayers

I’ve been re-watching episodes of the Big Bang theory recently.  Up front I have to say, I like it, it’s a funny show and I don’t really like a lot of that sort of comedy show cause they are usually, frankly, kinda crappy. I’ve noticed that on re-watching, there are a number of bizarre premises that it makes about Geek Culture.

I come from geek culture. I identify as a geek, I’m a massive massive geek. I’ve been in FOME,  MURP, and the SCA. All my friends are both female and male geeks. My collection of star trek and wars figures is actually slightly embarrassing. I watch SF, I read it, and I will get involved in a discussion about Babylon 5 at the drop of a hat. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF WOMEN LIKE ME.  All my female friends are equally geeky. Geeky girls like geeky boys and there is a lot of dating and going out and socializing.  This stuff just is not shown on that TV show.

Big Bang Theory: Geek Culture:

Geeks are loners and don’t have a social group or parties or sex lives.  Which is bizarre. I’ve been to and thrown a lot of kick ass parties. Geeks are stupidly, overly, tiresomely, social. Movie nights, games, parties, camps, drinking nights, board games days, online games, events, dinners, roleplaying, walks, lunches, coffee, jousting, feasts, larps, multi day roleplaying cons, – there is more active social culture around geeky pursuits than you can possibly imagine. Also – you don’t have to be introverted. Many total geeky nerds out there are screaming extraverts.  Also -just saying- there is a LOT of sex in geek culture. I recall this really nice but not geeky engineer dude who ended up hanging out with us for a bit before he found different friends. He was shocked at the amount of sex us ‘ugly’ or ‘weirdo’ people were getting – at school, they used to laugh at people like ‘us’ cause they knew we were sitting there wishing we were like them. And they KNEW we were not getting any. Was a terrible shock to him to see that his lifestyle was not an aspiration for geeks, plus geeks were getting a lot more action than him.

There are no female geeks. You’d think that Amy is a prime candidate for it but no. Women on BBT are allowed to be intelligent but not geeky as well. If Lesley Winkle was in my social group, she’d be GMing a game quite happily. Not even she in this BBT universe has any interests outside work or being in a quartet, though.  The girls are intelligent but NOT nerdy.

Geeky men do not date geek women, assuming they could find one. Actually, I think it’s cause there are almost none in the BBT universe. None of the main characters dates a geek girl and there is no main geek girl character.  Leonard did an epic fail with a geeky girl once, and there was that woman who wrote a book who was a total slut and fucked the lot of them… So I guess any geek girls who are out there are  forward and gagging for it, and we can’t have that now can we.

Women do not respect geeks or geeky interests.  One episode where the girls read the comics does not mean they have any time or sympathy or empathy for the hobby. At best there is tolerance. They don’t join in, they go do something else.  Tolerance with a slightly raised eyebrow of ‘oh look how nice I am to put up with this bull my man does’.  If you date a geek, you must try and change what they wear and what they do and hide them from your other, ‘normal’ friends too.

Woman don’t have hobbies – other than drinking wine with other women and discussing their men. What does Amy do in her spare time? Science? That’s her JOB not her HOBBY.  What does Bernadette like to do to relax? UNKNOWN. Penny is allowed to like sport, because she is from Nebraska – but she does not PLAY sport. Clearly the actor goes to the gym a lot as she’s pretty gloriously pumped these days –  but this is never mentioned because Penny never discusses exercise other than jogging sometimes in the first season and the gym in order to set up Raj with her deaf friend. But it’s not mentioned other than in a way to have her know someone. Don’t know what she dos all day when she’s not at the cheesecake shop or looking for an acting job. In contrast, we know what the interests of all the men are. Raj cooks and has his dogs and kites and does all the geek things, and he’s one of the least utilised characters there are…. How come I can tell you that, but  not tell you a single thing about what Amy does when she’s not interacting with the girls or at work? Cause women are not allowed to have their own interests on these sorts of shows.

Depression and anxiety are hilarious and you can ignore the obvious real problems of someone with chronic and horrid depression. Thanks to Stuart, the comic book guy, we know this to be true. A chronically down, depressed character, it’s REALLY FUNNY how many meds he takes and how he can’t get a woman! To all my depressed and anxious friends out there – you’re JUST THERE TO PROVIDE COMIC RELIEF for people who are not totally fucked up!

All geeks have at least a masters degree. Cause I know of NO ONE out there who plays magic who is not a totally brilliant person who prints papers all the time.  Everyone has at least a degree, right? and PhDs are pretty common and they all call each other Doctor at work. Unless you’re a woman with a PhD, in which case no one gives a shit.Women neither read comics or collect anything nerdy, nor do they play games. Just go into the comic book store and you’ll see this.

It’s ok (funny) to not respect women at all. Raj is actually a repellent character, misogynistic character. I find the actor really attractive – he’s gorgeous and easy on the eye and I’ve tried to forgive Raj because of that,  but as the series have gone on I’ve disliked Raj more and more. He’s needy, desperate, a liar, disrespectful, and doens’t care about the women he dates for their sake, just for his. He’s pushy and a bit nasty and vindictive. Not a nice guy at all. In the real world, we have these guys, we call them creeps, and these are the sorts of guys who get uninvited to parties cause they make people uncomfortable (I would have privately emailed the first/second season Howard and told him he was unwelcome at my parties, too. Sleazy and creepy is never acceptable. And yes, there are people out there who have been excluded from the geeky social group due to unacceptable behavior. It has to be pretty bad for geeks to do this, and sometimes there are people who are just jerks. Raj is a jerk).

Geeks  are all soft and not manly men and don’t like sport or do exercise.  You know what geek guys are? GUYS. Who eat, sleep, excercise, go to work, hang out with friends, and have hobbies. Quite a lot of them are very healthy and do excercise and would be able totally to stand up for themselves in a fight or have a conversation about a car or a sports team. You know what sport is? the ULTIMATE GEEKDOM. If I put a klingon outfit on and go to a con and larp away, and I know who played every minor character in season 2 of star trek next generation, then that’s fucking wierd to many people and it’s mocked. If I put on a Hawthorn jumper and go to every game every weekend and paint my face with brown/yellow and I know every premier game they’ve ever played and all the players stats, that is a thing that is ADMIRED by others. What’s the difference? There is none other than the NUMBERS and funding. It’s just another MADE UP ARTIFICIAL THING that is meaningless unless we ascribe meaning to it, it’s just that sport is more liked than roleplaying by the general population – and therefore going mental at sport is seen as normal but going mental over cylons is seen as peculiar.

My conclusion: BBT often has moments of pure geek magic. The moments that the guys sit around and are uber geeky doing their stuff together are awesome. It’s just that it’s ONLY the guys and that there is this attitude in there that geekdom is the refuge for the brilliant, sci-ency, introverted, men only. It’s gotten old, frankly. It’s lazy writing. It COULD be so much better and still fun. But what it does is keep the tropes alive of what it means to be a geek in the eyes of those cool people who really have no clue.  My life is way way more fun than those guys on that show have it. SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR.

The question

The question

2 responses to “Why ‘The Big Bang Theory’ utterly fails to describe Geek and Nerd culture

  1. Completely with you on all of this. I watch BBT a lot, but you’re right, the writing is just so, so lazy 75% of the time. Most annoying to me is how all Sheldon needs to do is make a statement about playing Dungeons and Dragons or some other stereotypically geeky thing, and audience laughter immediately follows — when there was NO joke there at all. The way everything’s executed really only helps the masses continue to view geeks/nerds in an “us and them” way, occasionally delivering an episode that revolves around the, “aw, look though, they’re people with feelings too!” side. Blegh.

    Nice post!

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