There are some scattered rumors over the internet that The Big Bang Theory may wrap up after season 12, and if so, good riddance. If you have ever felt a tingle that something just might be wrong with the show but can’t place it, the wait is over. Over the summer, writer and artist Jonathan McIntosh created a couple videos on his YouTube channel Pop Culture Detective. The videos explain “The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory” and “The Complexity of Geek Masculinity on the Big Bang Theory.”
For those unfamiliar with the series, The Big Bang Theory is featured around five main characters living California. Four are socially awkward, mostly white men with genius level IQs, and the other is an aspiring actress and waitress, a love interest of one of the main men and the show's "brainless beauty" trope.
Over 11 seasons, The Big Bang Theory has repeatedly reinforced the idea of #YesAllMen. The main men of the show are albeit unusual to mainstream television as they are all dorky, well-educated and lack social skills and conventional male beauty standards, such as being physically fit or above a certain height. But these “lovable nerds” still somehow aggressively objectify women. That objectification is the crux of the jokes on the show. Nerds can sexualize women to the same extent as jocks.
Jonathan McIntosh says in his first video, “It is their status as nerdy nice guys that then lets them off the hook for a wide range of creepy, entitled and downright sexist behaviors.”
In Season 6, Episode 12, leading man Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons — who was TV's highest paid actor in 2017 — tells his female lab assistant that she isn't succeeding because she is, "full of eggs and only appealing for a short time." But since he is portayed as a socially awkward nerd, his actions are seen as harmless.
But how can these jokes get past millions of viewers? McIntosh mentioned something called “ironic lampshading.” Lampshading is a technique that writers will use to point out flaws in the script to the audience. When writers lampshade, they can get away with having questionable or implausible content. In the case of The Big Bang Theory, the writers continually use sexist jokes for laughs and then point out the jokes in an attempt to rectify them.
One example of lampshading can be seen in a clip from “The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory.” Leading men Howard and Raj hack a bunch of technology to find the house that the cast of America’s Next Top Model is staying at so they can stalk and creep on the women. Leading man Leonard tells Howard and Raj what all the female audience is thinking: “What you’re doing is really creepy.” By acknowledging that a character is making a sexist, racist, homophobic joke, shows can get away with having these jokes in the first place.
If you want to learn more, watch the full videos below:
Photo via The Big Bang Theory / CBS
Published January 4, 2018
More from BUST
Gianna Folz is a BUST intern, writer, reluctant runner, and occasional tweeter when angry about something. Follow and connect @gianna_folz