What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's a fair amount of sexual innuendo in this sitcom about a group of socially dysfunctional geniuses who start up a friendship with their pretty female neighbor. Expect men and women appearing in bed together, as well as references to masturbation and words like "penis" and "coitus" amid the scientifically oriented dialogue. The characters are somewhat stereotypical; the guys' "nerdiness" is evidenced by their love of science fiction, abstract theoretical discussions, and inability to talk to women, while Penny, at least initially, exhibits a lot of "dumb blonde" traits. Drinking and smoking are sometimes visible. References are made to pop culture, ranging from Snoopy to Star Trek.
What's the story?
THE BIG BANG THEORY is a sitcom about a group of Cal-Tech physicists who can unlock the mysteries of the universe but are too socially inept to connect with most people here on Earth. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) are roommates who spend their free time with fellow scientists Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), playing board games in Klingon and watching recorded Stephen Hawking lectures. But the planets start shifting when they meet Penny (Kaley Cuoco), a pretty blonde waitress/aspiring screenwriter who's moved in next door. Even though she doesn't always appear to have a terribly high IQ or an affinity for quantum physics, Penny's looks and willingness to befriend them has the geeky guys trying their best to charm her with their limited social skills. As the series progresses, additional female characters are introduced (Sara Gilbert and Mayim Bialik) who match Leonard and Sheldon's braininess.
Is it any good?
This fun, well-written series features an endearing cast who provide viewers with lots of humorous moments. Leonard, Sheldon, and their friends fully embrace their genius and recognize their social shortcomings. They also understand the value of friendship, loyalty, and staying true to themselves.
Still, while the show is definitely funny, its storylines about camaraderie and romance aren't exactly original. It also promotes all of the expected clichés about people in the sciences -- they have a passion for sci-fi characters and can't sell a pick-up line to save their lives, etc. -- and, in Penny, it sometimes puts forward the stereotypical "dumb blonde" image (though women with brains and awkwardness to match the guys' have been introduced as the series has progressed). But in the end, this show is about a group of nice guys basically having fun and looking for love.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the characteristics typically associated with intelligent people -- particularly in the media. What do terms like "geek" and "nerd" really mean? Are they intended to be insulting or a recognition of someone's intelligence?
Are stereotypes ever appropriate? Although sitcom writers often use stereotypes to create humor (and sometimes call attention to intolerance), do they ever go too far?