I think we all noticed yesterday’s episode of The Big Bang Theory really examined stereotyping.
The writers build the show entirely around stereotype anyway: four “nerds” of
four different “classes” spend time across the hall from a “normal,” attractive
Now, in reality, the above definitions assume far too much, based on maybe the pilot episode. Any thorough BBT viewer knows they’re anything but totally true. In that regard, the last episode turned all the show’s stereotypes, as we knew them, on their heads.
All the same, I want to touch on the tropes we see in the series, but don’t actively acknowledge. We may see them as “common themes” in movies and TV shows anyplace. I see them as both helpful, and harmful, frames and boxes.
I sourced tvtropes.org for some specific idiom names and came across the most obvious series trope, highlighted by the very show itself: the “Nerd Nanny” trope. The website explains, “You are one of Two Gamers on a Couch, enthralled by the latest noisy console game…As you are about to deliver the final blow, a mysterious figure steps between you and the television. Who could it be? Oh, it's just your extremely hot female roommate trying to get you to do something other than play video games.”
Or, for a more specific Leonard vs. Penny situation, the “Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl” idiom: “The usual gender stereotype is that guys are physically better…while girls are soft, but nice, or just smart. This averts that stereotype hard (for the most part at least): the guy is the smart but physically inept one and it seems he got himself the company of a girl who most guys would have trouble keeping up with in the first place.”
Either of these sounds familiar? In that they breach the “regular,” overplayed idea of “nerd guy” vs. “hot girl,” they create their own, equally common stereotypes. My questions are these: why would it be so unheard of for a girl to enjoy common “nerd” activities? Why is it hard to imagine that a “nerd” could possess any attractive qualities?
Do you think the last episode conveyed that yes, girls can release their inner geek? Comment with your opinions, and in the meantime, get excited for the next TBBT installment!