The Big Bang Theory

Yes, I know most of us are more than aware of the aforementioned scientific theory about the primordial cosmic explosion that resulted in all matter and energy in the universe. However, instead of being a scientific discourse on the now widely accepted theory about the origins of our universe (and now, it seems, maybe of others too), this column is about a hugely popular American sitcom that goes by the same name.

Directed by Chuck Lorre (also director of Two and a Half Men) and Bill Prady, the show is making heads turn all over the world. It is currently running its three seasons after its first two seasons were a huge hit. For the sake of statistics, the sitcom won the Television Critics Association award for best comedy series. Also the show was estimated to have 12.8 million viewers when its third season premiered on September 21, 2009.

I have been following the show since its humble beginnings thanks to video hosting on the internet (the show airs on the American network, CBS). For those of you who haven’t heard of any of this before, I present a brief synopsis of the basic storyline. The main characters include four physics geeks at California Institute of Technology and their attractive neighbor. They are – Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), the ultimate intellect and geek, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), who is a smart and helpful roommate, Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), a wanna-be smooth talker and ladies’ man, Rajesh Koothrapalli (Kunal Nayyar), an astrophysicist who has problems talking to women and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) a pretty waitress who aspires to be an actress.

The pilot features Penny’s move next door to Sheldon and Leonard. Leonard is attracted to Penny as soon as he sees her and his constant attempts to engage Penny is a regular feature throughout the series. The stark contrast between the two and their lives produces most of the comedic effect. In addition, Howard’s antics to woo women, Rajesh’s social ineptitude and foreign (Indian) culture and Sheldon’s outrageously weird idiosyncrasies, stubbornness, extraordinary intellect and pathetic social skills are also subjects of humor. Besides comedy, the show allures to intellectual concepts from physics, mathematics, psychology, history and everything else, that would make most of us frantically look up Wikipedia.

Personally, as a science person I love this combination of comedy and intellect. Instead of a regular, run-of-the-mill American sitcom, The Big Bang Theory is so much more than what one expects from most shows. It can teach you a lot, give you a good laugh and provide the classic entertainment that a lot of us are looking for. Also it focuses on a phenomenon in society that has never been seen before. In ancient times, priests were venerated while in the recent past, scientists were seen as mysterious and esoteric people who worked on arcane things that no one really cared about. Of course figures like Albert Einstein were exceptions. But today, given our huge dependence on science and technology, the smart person is an all-favorite. After all, we owe it to the “techies” for everything that makes our lives easier – from the appliances in our homes to the internet. As Howard puts it in one of the episodes “Smart is the new sexy”. So, if you have about 30 minutes to spare, give the series a shot and I am pretty sure most of you will love it.

Sainyam Gautam

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