Before the Big-Bang ever happened (see the pun!), nerds were always a part of comedy series (and movies and YouTube gags, and college bullying, and the brunt of every sad joke a little I know), but this show; the show where 4 very intelligent people take on the big bad world, living life on their terms and enjoying it immensely; changed the dynamics.
I have watched a host of serials in my lifetime, and I would watch a few more before my time is up, but The Big Bang has to be the closest thing to my kind of humor. So what is my kind of humor; let me explain: I am from India (where academics is third to parents and gods), I came from a school where the lower strata used to score 83% in tests, and then I did engineering in computer science (which is nothing special, spent 70% of that time sleeping). During that time I watched a lot cartoons, read a lot of comic books, and played a lot of counter-strike. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I am a nerd, I am 6 feet tall, 92 kg and can hold my own in almost every physical sport out there (on a completely different note, I was never bullied), but deep-down inside I am a nerd. I enjoy the humorous application of Einstein’s theory of relativity (‘If you run around a tree naked with the speed of light’), I feel offended when someone says he is the biggest Batman fan ever (and doesn’t know there were 4 Batman movies that Nolan never made), and I find it real vindication on killing someone in Modern Warfare (more so if it’s a head-shot, though MW has nothing over Counter-Strike). So that ladies and gentlemen is my kind of humor.
Humor has come a long way from the black and white antiques of Charlie Chaplin. Today one-liners are the conversation-starters, everyone talks in references, and your sense of humor is an intangible pointer to your knowledge. By those standards, Big-Bang is a gold-mine. For the American pop-culture it is full of references to what a typical child of the 90s would have grown up with. For the engineering enthusiast, there are physics, chemistry, math jokes galore (at some point it’s like TV version of XKCD.com). If you are a comic book fan, just watch the show. And for any fantasy based lovers, just observe how coolly they discuss Vampires (see below) and wizards over lunch. The truth is you don’t have to be an over-educated snob to like Big-Bang, but if you are one, you would enjoy it immensely. Big bang is global in its appeal, but it’s not dumbed down to achieve that. The show assures you: no longer feel bad when someone doesn’t get your jokes, it’s their problem.
The best thing about the show is that they live on their own terms. They know what they like, and they are not afraid to show it. Howard has a pair of light-sabers on his bedroom walls, Sheldon regularly wears DC inspired T-shirts, Leonard has a miniature bat-signal in his room and Raj is proud of his bro-mance. They can act as overgrown kids if they want to, they can spend their weekend playing Star Wars RPG, they actually have a Halo night(they had all the famous consoles too, but they were stolen, see below) every week, and they make money doing what they do best: studying. As the show demonstrates, they had a hard time because of what they are, and they still do from time to time, but these are the guys who didn’t change their definition of cool because of peer pressure, on the contrary if you weren’t down with them, you were not cool enough. These guys show that’s its possible, that’s it’s not strange being skinny and smart, in reality it’s actually quite fun.
Leonard, perhaps the most socially adept of the four, proves that you don’t have to give up on your Star-Trek costume to score women. Howard is a NASA engineer/astronaut (how cool is that!) who in some strange ways is still ‘Mommy’s Little Kid’. Raj is living the Indian academic dream, away from his parents, in the land of opportunity and looking at stars for a job(though his selective mutism is a social handicap). The coup de grace however, has to be Sheldon, as the socially awkward, immune to sarcasm and irony, intelligent to a fault, room-mate to Leonard, Jim Parsons shows one how to be happy. He is un-compromising with his life-style, puts his own happiness before others, completely backs what he believes in and can take you down a peg when he wants to. When Sheldon is good at it, he is great and when he is not, he dismisses it as un-important. The fact that Sheldon is a geek, makes that conviction even more so important and commendable but Nerd, jock, emo, catholic, republican, or ethnic; no matter what you are and what you believe in that’s how you believe in you and your principles.
The Big Bang Theory is a comic series, and it does a great job at being one. But for me, it’s also an inspiration. I no longer have second thoughts when I want to buy a light-saber from e-bay. I proudly flaunt my knowledge and appreciation of the DC universe to anyone who gets the cannon wrong. And I have satisfactorily replaced weekend outings with X-Box gaming sessions. I am still good at sports, at my job, and with girls (if you can believe that). I haven’t become withdrawn or alienated or think of others as my inferiors. But this post Big Bang times allow me to express myself better, and to feel a little better too. Maybe I am looking to deep into a petty TV show, but then again that’s what a nerd will do.