Subject: Zing comments on, of all things, The Big Bang Theory (and, as it turns out, HIMYM and Friends, too).
Posted on: 2019-11-18 10:35:03 UTC

I say 'of all things' because it's pretty far from being a favorite of mine, much less something I watch frequently...but it's on Netflix, and I've watched a few episodes here and there since its early days, so why not?

I still wouldn't say I really love this show. I'm well aware of some of the criticism about it, and agree with a good amount of it; it bugs me that almost none of the recurring female characters are even remotely into any of the 'nerdy/geeky' films the guys like. Not even a little. As a viewer who is most definitely female and also most definitely got very into things like Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the MCU and more mildly into Star Wars (it's possible to like something a little bit, BBT writers! Seriously, I'd describe myself as a casual Star Wars fan at best, and there are installments I'm not really into, but I've still enjoyed going to see some of them even if I'm not generally the one pushing to see them and don't really care too much either way! It's possible! Why are you so blind to nuance?), where was I--right, as a woman who did get into some of these shows and movies, and not in a reluctant, faked, or to please a boyfriend way (1), this bugs me. A lot. Repeatedly. As with other things I dislike about the series, it starts bugging me about three to five episodes in. Every time.

(Also, for the record, I'm also pretty into dresses, nail polish, makeup when I feel like wearing it, fun hairstyles, even rom-coms, which are sometimes good and frequently amusing to get the picture. I mean, I also know how to put up a set of shelves and develop film and chop firewood, but--my point is, nuance exists, and so do women who a, frequently look pretty 'feminine', b, enjoy doing all sorts of things that are currently female-coded, c, are very into fantasy and sci-fi and not faking it in the least, especially not for someone they're dating, and d, are also capable of doing and enjoying tasks that are currently male-coded. Just. Nuance. Argh.)

This shows up with the male characters, too, of course. Even when they break out of their stereotypical roles a bit, it's often treated as something embarrassing, or someone implies they're weak men or lesser men because of it. Going past that, the characters frequently aren't nice to each other; the show reminds me of Friends that way, honestly. In the early seasons, at least (I'm told it gets a bit better in the later seasons), they treat each other horribly! It's awful! I came away thinking they were horrible people who didn't like each other very much at all! I mean, Phoebe is kind of fun, and I generally like Joey, but just--no! Unless the title of the show was kind of meant ironically, or as something for them to grow into, it just doesn't work for me!

(And yes, you could say some similar things about How I Met Your Mother, which, oddly enough, I kind of love. My rebuttal there? Even in the first season, you can see evidence that they love each other. Over the course of the series, they all show some very good parts of themselves. And the episodes where a psychologist joins their group for a bit and ends up exploding with analysis of how messed up they all are doesn't hurt, either. But they mostly aren't as cruel to each other, and, well, for the most part, it's very clear that there actually is a strong undercurrent of love, loyalty, and friendship, especially once you've seen more of the series. It works a lot better for me.)

...wait, I'm supposed to be talking about the Big Bang Theory.

The thing is...a piece of what I actually had in mind to talk about when I started this post is a positive. Weirdly enough, that positive is Sheldon and Amy's relationship. I don't remember too much of the beginning, and I didn't see a lot of the middle...but in the last two seasons? They're very sweet, and have possibly the healthiest Spoiler description of the lot. Think about it: they're supportive of each other--heck, there's a moment Amy comes in and Sheldon goes "Can you believe X?!" and Amy puts down her bag while saying, "No! I'm shocked and outraged!" and then, as she sits down, "Now tell me why I'm shocked and outraged?" She has his back without yet knowing what's going on; if she sees a flaw in what he tells her, she finds a way to talk him into understanding why the other person is upset, without tearing him down or even giving the impression that she's not in his corner even though she believes he's in the wrong. They do clash, obviously; the thing is, though, once they've stormed away and cooled off and talked through it with a friend...I mean, there's a scene where Sheldon keeps trying to turn a conversation to his accomplishments, despite it being colleagues from Amy's field who want to talk about how amazing they think she is, and, at most, how lucky he is to be with her, and come on, talk her up with us, tell us what you thought when she first told you about her amazing theory about x! Understandably, this leads to a big fight.

The thing is...when he comes back, he gives a sincere apology, and includes the realization that this was a time when he should have been the 'cameo in her movie' (like Iron Man being in a Captain America movie and not being upset he isn't getting all the attention or trying to take it over). It's sweet, it's fairly genuine, and he promises to work at doing better in the future, even though it might take him a lifetime to get good at it.

But that's how they are at this point. They're supportive, they know how to fight and apologize and work through their's easy to buy that there's something there, and that they really are suited for each other and in a pretty happy and healthy relationship. And that's amazing, both because they're incredibly unconventional and because they're doing much better than their 'more normal' friends, who don't have similarly solid or healthy dynamics in their marriages. The show does acknowledge they have issues, though, at least, so that's something.

Anyway. I'm in the final season, though right now I'm at a point where I'm fed up with the show again; at some point I'll keep going, probably skipping the episodes with less interesting summaries (what can I say? I'm barely a casual watcher of this show), to see what they do in the final episode. I'm curious.

(And finally, a disclaimer: if you happen to love Friends, or BBT, or hate HIMYM, that's perfectly fine with me. Heck, I've had roommates who were Friends superfans. These are my personal impressions of the shows, minus some influence from critiques I've read of BBT; I absolutely don't mean them as an attack on you, and if your opinions run counter to mine, that's great! There are certainly good and bad things in all three shows, and while we might not share opinions, the different things people see in the same piece of media...that's always interesting.)


(1) To be fair, I did start watching Doctor Who because my boyfriend at the time--or possibly my good friend who became my boyfriend the next year, I'm a bit unsure of the timing--kept forgetting I hadn't seen it, and eventually I got curious and decided to try it out. I ended up loving it, and got a new show, fandom, and conversation topic as well as being able to catch the references. We wound up writing bits of fanfic together--ohh, yeah, no, this was before we dated. I remember now. So I got into Doctor Who because my new good friend (well, newly close--we'd been in the same grade for years) kept referencing it to me before remembering I hadn't seen it, and I got curious. Remind me to tell you my impressions of Rose and the Doctor before I watched the show and only knew them from fanfic summaries--I was waaaay off. I had absolutely no clue who they were or what the show was really about.

Anyway. I did give the show a chance because he kept mentioning it, and I think I saw Avengers on his initiative, too (I think we were dating at that point, going by the release date), but I got into both because I genuinely loved them, not because he bugged me into it or I wanted to impress him or something like that. At most, we're talking about the kind of influence that looks like 'this person that I like a lot is into this thing and it doesn't sound horrible; I'll give it a shot. Ooh, I love it, new fandom!'

(Actually, if you were around in 2014ish, you might remember him--he was on the Board for a bit, going by Time Engineer. In a slightly roundabout way, you can thank him for Jacques' existence. I mean, it's possible I would've tried the show on my own someday, or that Lily would've created Jacques on her own, but in the version we've got...yeah.)

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