For those of us who love the Big Bang Theory, Sky has turned out to be a quite handy subscription as they started to broadcast the 10th season. For me, this came in the perfect moment as I just finished watching the 9th season on Netflix.
For those who are not watching the series yet, seriously what are you waiting for? It is absolutely hilarious and interesting from many aspects. The series follows lives of a group of young researchers and their neighbours and friends (mostly the wannabe actress and waitress Penny and Stuart who owns the comic book store, but there are also other characters that keep occurring in the series such as Stephen Hawking, etc). Very much like in a globally popular ‘Friends’, characters mature and change during the series, but this series also attempts to present a reality of one niche group of people (researchers), as well as their interaction with the general society.
I indeed became a fan of The Big Bang Theory and after suffering from confusing random broadcasts on TV channels, I committed to watch all seasons one by one. The reason I love this series so much is not so much in its humour but also in the way it portrays the research active academics, i.e. people like me. While Friends portrayed everyday life of a group of Americans (Topić, 2016), in this series, researchers are portrayed as nerds almost entirely alienated from the world and its trends.
One of the main descriptive characteristics is that guys in the series love Star Wars and comics. After initial amusement of stereotypes I perceived as just stereotypes, I realised I actually love Star Wars and comics too, so perhaps there is some truth that nerds who complete (too) many degrees have similar interests. What is more, Sheldon’s research interest is predominantly centred on exploring the string theory, which is quite fascinating as I have been interested in that all my life. Sheldon also talks about time travelling, and as several of my blogs (see here & here) testify I am quite a fan of the imaginary phenomenon myself.
In other words, even sitcoms based primarily on humour and exaggerated representation of reality can make us learn something about ourselves so that we can start questioning how we may look to the world and our social surrounding. Or, perhaps we can also ask ourselves to what extent do we really understand social relations, and to what extent we simply abide to social conventions without approving or understanding them.
Due to my previous education, I do understand the socialisation process well; however, this series certainly made me think about defining and re-defining the phenomenon. If we understand socialisation as a set of rules according to which a certain society lives (Haralambos & Holborn, 2002) then we can indeed say that we learn behaviour without always understanding it, and by judging those who see things differently as weird. Of course, there is a clear implication that Sheldon has a heavy Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as well as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) (Personality Disorders: The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper, 2016); however, eventually he does learn social conventions and starts to function better in a group setting albeit remains bluntly honest about recognising social conventions, once he manages to do so. Furthermore, we can also say ‘so what’ to his OCD and NPD, as he is able to function and produce research.
Nevertheless, popularity of this character is witnessed in growing academic work analysing his profile (see Vitelli, 2016 and Winston, 2016). Some even debated whether Sheldon has an Asperger’s but the opinions are still divided about this (see Bibel, 2010).
Because of popularity of Jim Parsons who has received many awards for his vivid portrayal of Sheldon, it all of a sudden became cute to have an OCD and there are forums debating this character and what he represents (see e.g. Quora forum on Sheldon Cooper).
The 1st episode of the season 10 continues the story of Sheldon’s mom and Leonard’s dad possibly sleeping together that left unresolved in the last episode of season nine. The situation is causing insomnia to Sheldon who is worried he and Leonard may end up as some version of brothers if they parents end up together. And, when Sheldon does not sleep Leonard and Penny can’t sleep either (what else is new?).
However, for those who haven’t started the 10th season yet, I will not go into too many details as I do not want to be a spoiler. But, I am certainly looking forward to more episodes and laughs with Sheldon and the gang.
Thank you for reading.
Bibel, S. (2010). Dr. Mayim Bialik’s Diagnosis: ‘Big Bang’s Sheldon Has OCD. Available at: http://my.xfinity.com/blogs/tv/2010/11/10/dr-mayim-bialiks-diagnosis-big-bangs-sheldon-has-ocd/ (Accessed 26 October 2016)
Quora forum on Sheldon Cooper (n.d.). Available at: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-about-Sheldon-Cooper-from-TV-series-The-Big-Bang-Theory (Accessed 26 October 2016)
Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (2002). Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. London: Harper Collins Publishers.
Personality Disorders: The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper (2016). Available at: https://reelrundown.com/tv/Sheldon-Cooper-PDs (Accessed 26 October 2016)
Topić, M. (2016). “Do you even understand what off the rack means?”- Americanization and Jewish Identities in the Television series ‘Friends’ (under review).
Vitelli, R. (2016). Dissecting Sheldon Cooper: How The Big Bang Theory plays with the stereotype of the mad genius. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201607/dissecting-sheldon-cooper (Accessed 26 October 2016)
Winston, C. N. (2016). Evaluating media’s portrayal of an eccentric-genius: Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Available at: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2014-45068-001 (Accessed 26 October 2016)