#1 TV show, Thursday, 8/18/16
5.66 million viewers
What it is: A sitcom about a bunch of nerds (physicists, mostly) hanging out with each other, nerdily. In this episode, Sheldon’s grandmother visits and Raj agonizes over a potential date with an aspiring screenwriter.
This is not a cool show. It is the kind of thing that often gets cited by hipster-ish people as evidence that the world rewards mindless pablum while ignoring or suppressing true artistic achievements. It is so uncool, in fact, that it has inspired waves of contrarian backlash-against-the-backlash thinkpieces about why it might be Actually Good after all.
I’m hesitant to come down too hard on it for a personal reason: Some relatives of mine are fans and gave me some DVDs of it as a gift a while back. If any of them are reading this now: Thanks again! Sorry I didn’t visit more last time I was in town!
Sorry also to report that, truth be told, I’m not a big fan of the show myself. Still, judging from this ep and the one or two I watched from those DVDs, Big Bang Theory isn’t godawful so much as old-fashioned. Much like Two and a Half Men, co-creator Chuck Lorre’s other big project (or one of them, anyway), the show spices up its age-old multicamera laugh track format with sexual innuendo rather than any social commentary or formal innovation; “Meemaw Materialization” alone includes references to threesomes, old lady underwear and the loss of Sheldon’s virginity. Your opinion of the program will probably come down to whether you find this stuff titillating or just kind of gross. But the performers all hit the notes they’re going for and there’s at least some attempt to make the characters likable and relatable, which is more than can be said for some sitcoms. I imagine this won’t be the last time the show comes up on this blog (like NCIS, it’s such a hit that it can reach #1 in the ratings even with a rerun, as was the case this week), so my opinion on it may change, but for now: It’s whatever. Commercial success is less about getting people to love you than it is about getting a whole lot of people to think you’re, you know, fine. Every Nielsen viewer counts the same, whether they’re glued to their seat or looking up periodically from their laundry.