The immensely popular CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory has been on the receiving end of many laughs and jokes on the Internet for years, even now when it is in its last season. Dozens of critics, blogs, and sites transformed the popular show into a laughing stock of the TV show world. Most criticism is about the tendency of the show to use pop culture references instead of actual quality jokes, representation of some archetypes, as well as countless celebrity cameos.
Although it receives constant negative criticism and backlash, The Big Bang Theory has remained one of the most successful sitcoms ever created. A question therefore raises, mainly how did the show remain so hugely popular despite the awful criticism?
The show debuted back 2007, before superheroes were as popular as today, thanks to the movies. The Dark Knight trilogy nor Iron Man have yet been released, but they were close. Therefore, pop culture, and mainly its subdivision of “nerd culture” was slowly but surely on the rise. It was the time before the MCU before Disney bought Marvel, Star Wars and several other entertainment giants.
Superheroes were always popular among the fans of comic books, while Star Wars and Star Trek were always a pair of cultural giants, but none of their diehard fans have ever been represented on screen. There were shows like Spaced and The IT Crowd dealing with people who were into comics, science, computers, and fantasy. However, they did not premiere on major American TV networks like CBS. When this show arrived, nerd culture became mainstream.
The characters would debate about Superman as if he were real, televised on one of the biggest television networks in the USA. This huge level of accessibility was the real game changer, as the right audience who found themselves in the character quickly emerged. With the growth of superhero movies, the ratings of The Big Bang Theory also grew.
The show also made sure to point out the bad sides of different pop culture hits, which some fans did not find amusing. Not everyone likes being told things they enjoy are not worth it.
As the show progressed, the show became even more inclusive toward different demographics, like with the inclusion of now main characters Bernadette and Amy. With this, the boys’ club feel of the show diminished a little bit, but never went away. These strong female characters had their own stories to tell, and they were more than love interests for the male cast.
Because the show dealt with so many things, its main audience was never clear. Perhaps the biggest strength of the show is the broad subject matter. There were not many jokes strictly reserved for “nerds”, which could be why some comedy fans, science fiction, and fantasy lovers, and comic book nerds gave up on the show. The show spoke a language all can understand, but that is not what all the fans wanted.
When all of their precious properties became mainstream thanks to their development and presence in other media, these fans felt like they lost their show. It became more accessible to the masses who once did not enjoy these topics. Now that they do, it feels forced and fake. This makes the older fans stop enjoying or completely distancing themselves from the things that were once precious and special to them.
The things Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny discuss on the show are not what drew the fans to it. It set up the roots but was not enough to gain the overwhelming popularity or longevity of the show. It is also not what made thousands of people hate it. The show’s style of comedy is a massive point of contention or the lack of it. Videos, where the laughter in the background is removed, are cringe-worthy and awful and make it seem like the fans laugh because they hear others laugh.
Now in its final season, the question of the legacy it will leave is hard. It may be looked back at as a classic, but it could also be hated more and more down the road. The fans who stuck with it all the way will surely miss it. Who knows, maybe they may even reboot it in a couple of decades.