Why I hate The Big Bang Theory

It’s the second of our new weekly feature, What We’re Watching Wednesday. Our launch peice last week on The Big Bang Theory sparked some debate around the office, and we thought it only fair to show two sides to the story. This week, Charlie tells us how he absolutely did not learn to love The Big Bang Theory.

A lot of people seem to like The Big Bang Theory, it’s one of the more popular TV comedies of recent times. Some of my colleagues here are fans of the show, and one of them has just written their own blog piece about it. It’s this that has finally nudged me into writing this counterpoint piece – put simply, I HATE The Big Bang Theory. It’s not that the show is terminally unfunny, there is the occasional good joke. It’s not even as flat-out offensively awful as the even more bafflingly popular Two and a Half Men (which like The Big Bang Theory was also created by Chuck Lorre, who seems to be the Michael Bay of TV). But the things I dislike about the show are so bad that I’ve wound up disliking it more than shows which are objectively worse. So what is it that drives me mad?

1. Studio audience laughter

There’s nothing wrong with audience laughter on a TV show, many great shows have it. But The Big Bang Theory appears to be filmed in front of a bunch of hyenas on laughing gas. Almost every line is greeted with some sort of laugh, not even Seinfeld at its peak was laugh-worthy after every line. The effect is to take you out of the show you’re watching and it just becomes grating after a while.  The Big Bang Theory is like the episode of The Simpsons where Mr Burns takes over all the TV stations in Springfield and we get a brief snippet of a sitcom show he’s in:

‘Smithers I’m home!’


‘What, already?’




2. Annoying characters

Again, a comedy can sometimes have characters doing dislikeable things or even being dislikeable people while still being funny and enjoyable to watch – step forward George Costanza and pretty much all of the characters in Arrested Development. But it takes a lot of writing skill to do this. Instead what we have with The Big Bang Theory is a cast of thoroughly hideous characters – Leonard is weak and whiny, Penny is mean, Raj is irritatingly arrogant, Wolowitz is horribly sleazy (his relationship and marriage to Bernadette strains credulity even by TV show standards; no sane woman would spend more than five minutes with someone like this). And then there’s the show’s most famous character, Sheldon Cooper. Jim Parsons is a good comedic actor and I can’t really fault his performance but Sheldon is a complete and utter dick, and it amazes me how he seems to be the most popular character. There’s some debate as to whether Sheldon is meant to be autistic or has Asperger’s Syndrome , but I don’t ever recall personality traits like constantly belittling the people around you being mentioned as features of autism or Asperger’s. Even the supporting characters on the show seem infected by this tendency to be unpleasant, and the end result is something that feels constantly mean-spirited. Not in a pleasingly cynical Seinfeld or Arrested Development way, but in a just plain nasty Family Guy way.

3. Laughing at geeks, not with them

This is maybe the thing I hate most about the show, though it’s hardest to verbalise why. It might just be an overly defensive thing on my part but seeing nerdy/geeky people mocked in TV and film has always been a bugbear, not because it’s bad in itself but because it’s often done so lazily and insultingly, and nothing is interesting is done with it. Watching The Big Bang Theory sometimes feels like we’ve barely moved on from the days of Saved by the Bell (a terrible show for those of you still recalling it with rose-tinted glasses) with its occasional ‘sad geek’ characters in coke-bottle glasses and as figures of fun. All the lazy tropes of geeky characters – weedy, unable to function in society, terrible with women, mummy’s boys – are present and correct. Not to mention the writing which often just wants laughs from the fact they’ve referenced something scientific or Lord of the Rings. In short, this is a TV show where the premise is ‘lol look at these losers!’. And depressingly people seem to lap it up.


That’s probably enough ranting anyway. I know there are others out there who hate this show, so let’s unite against the menace that is The Big Bang Theory! What people should be watching instead is the cult US TV show Community. It laughs with geeks, not at them, has brilliant episodes based around, among other things, mammoth paintball fights and games of D&D, and takes hilarious swipes at shows like Glee. And in Abed Nadir it has a character who is basically Sheldon Cooper done well and far more endearingly. Next week my colleagues Jen and Hannah, who endorse this blog piece wholeheartedly, will give you ten reasons why Community knocks spots off The Big Bang Theory. Six seasons and a movie!


Charlie Panayiotou (try pronouncing that) works as Editorial Manager for Gollancz. Possibly the only person at Orion with a BSc, he spends too much money on CDs rather than just downloading everything and reads various Japanese comics. If you want to make friends with him, just tell him how much you hate The Big Bang Theory.
  • I totally agree with Charlie. Especially on point 3 – I think this is a laugh at the losers show, and that burns.

    Bonus fun – watch it without the laugh track! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKS3MGriZcs)

    • Uhoh

      The thing is that TBBT was never created to be without laughter like programmes such as M*A*S*H (early episodes)
      TBBT is a dumbed down comedy. Sheldon character has to explain everything then overplays it. Not funny enough? The final airing includes added laughter.

      TBBT is not & has never intended to be an intellectual comedy despite it’s theme.

  • Uhoh

    Episode on: 13/12/12 – The proper way of stating the date.

    This episode was one of the worst, if not the worst. It was full of cheese from beginning to end. The moment I see that actress that plays Rachel …… er …….. I mean Penny I know it will be a dud. I got it spot on.

    Why do I watch it if it’s so bad? Because I have watched it from the beginning & want it to be good.
    Alas, TBBT has lost the plot & has merged with every other Lorre programme. Good news though! There’s enough easily pleased Americans to make a handsome profit for him, the production crew & actors for years to come – YaY! (Rachel … er …. I mean Penny voice)

  • DudeImHungry

    You must have only seen a few episodes if you say that raj is arrogant for many of the early seasons he can’t even speak to girls. Also this show makes many references that only geeks will get such as many star wars jokes. Many people have the ability to joke about themselves which also seems to have been forgotten in this article. However I have not seen some of the latest seasons as I live in the UK. So maybe it does get worse.

    • DrVagary

      Yes, only geeks have seen Star Wars. Totally.

  • MuckkRaker

    Utter crap. It’s everywhere in syndication too. A televsion nightmare. How I Met YourMother and Two and a Half Men suck as well. I hate all that Cbs crap. Dreadful BS.

  • I agree with most of what you said. This show leaves in horror of the American education system that laughs at academically inclined individuals. I like the references to comic books, sci-fi, etc. But disagree with your view that raj is arrogant- how is being unable to talk to women unless drunk, getting drunk talking to women & coming across as obnoxious- arrogant? And then there’s the disgusting eating lobster naked & running the streets in his undies— yep that did it in for TBBT & me.

    • Johnny Mav

      Please he is totally arrogant the second he gets a girl to actually acknowledge his existence. I mean he gives a speech at a comic book store about it being ok to be alone and when he gets a chance to leave with a girl, he calls them all losers. That’s one of many examples. It is a total give an inch, take a mile thing.

      Personally I cant stand Penny and Leonard. The writers are obviously damaged people who know nothing about how real relationships work. I wont comment on Bern and Howard, pure fantasy land.

  • Welsa

    I agree with most of your facts however, raj was never arrogant.

  • Chris

    Community was funny the first season. I’m sorry, but that show is infinitely unfunny now.

    Now, had you said 30 Rock…

  • Show started off great and since the 3rd season has pretty much died off. Some nuggets here and there but not as entertaining any more.

  • Scarmax

    I also cannot stand Sheldon Cooper as a character and it’s why I stopped watching the show 2 seasons ago. No human being acts as arrogant as he does and gets away with it. I hate his constant condescending attitude towards everyone, and his inhuman lack of emotion. It’s not funny, it’s absurd and insulting and it makes me even more angry that all the other characters have never once bothered to address his callousness. If I actually knew anyone who acted like Sheldon Cooper, I’d be in jail right now because I would have beaten them to death with a tire iron.

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