I’ve recently been rewatching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory. And by “old,” I mean the episodes that were playing when I was in college. I am partway through season 2 (again), and it never fails to astound me how funny this show is. Disclaimer, before I continue: I’m not caught up. I haven’t watched the last two seasons, and therefore haven’t watched this season’s premiere yet either. I’ll get there.
The actors are fantastic in and of themselves, but what I love about the early seasons is the excess of testosterone. Penny (and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) completely holds her own with the guys. It was great when they added Amy and Bernadette, but I love the old seasons because of the dynamic.
And I love the humor. That’s what I was planning on talking about in this post. The science humor.
The show is made so that everyone understands the funny parts. Half of the humor of the whole thing is that everything has to be dumbed down for Penny. (That’s actually probably how the introduction of two new female characters worked so well – they were also scientists, so Penny was still the odd-woman-out. So, while the dynamic changed in that there are more female characters, the humor stayed pretty much the same.) Having to dumb it all down allows the audience to understand everything, making it funny for everyone.
But the science is solid. That’s why it works, for me. I know that they have a physicist on staff, and he makes sure that everything they talk about is real. I love that. I love knowing that the science isn’t getting compromised in order to make the show accessible to a greater audience.
Of course, it helps that I related to Sheldon on a spiritual level. I also hate people and disorder and change. Not to the extent that he does, but I hate it none-the-less. I remember, when I was away interviewing at graduate schools during my senior year of college, one of my roommates would text me Big Bang jokes throughout the weekends. It made it a little easier to get through the awkwardness of interviewing, and I realized that I could be funny. My life was funny. Might as well make the most of that.
Obviously, I’ve since moved on from a career in science. Mostly. But still, watching this show makes me remember why I loved it in the first place. It’s a unique group of people, and a very unique state of mind to constantly be in. I miss it sometimes.
Maybe I’ll just give up on my graduate degree and go back for my PhD in theoretical physics!