Saturday, 2 May 2015

The Big Bang Theory (TBBT)

I know I know – the series has tanked.  It’s a bloated turkey weighed down by itself, and the high expectations and boy, it currently beats even soap operas with its facile treatment .

But it used to be good once upon a time – and those times live on thanks to repeats as well as those DVDs and Youtube uploads.
Image result for the big bang theory

There’s a lot going for the big bang theory. In recent times its possibly IMHO one of the most creatively written comedies I have experienced.  (somehow 30 rock and HIMYM just didn’t tickle me and I got supremely bored in some episodes – I mean, I’d rather watch the current episodes of TBBT)

Anyways this is how I’d got started given my usual late laggard status. One of my colleagues in SE Asia had given me this collection of TV series which he thought I’d like – one was 30 Rock and the other was TBBT. (He claimed he liked the super genius in TBBT and thought he was gay – which turned out to be true years later when the actor came out!)

I watched 30 Rock and its loud, cynical and ultra-clever tone seemed a little too gimmicky for me – also too fast.   I sometimes wonder how people get those jokes. (and that for me reflects the quandary and the paradox that the US represents – how can a nation with one of the most illiterate and limited intelligence enjoy such highly creative and higher forms of comedy too. Peanuts the hit comic strip was definitely in no means for children and I think that about says it – same for MAD).
Image result for the big bang theory

 Anyways the other TV series he’d given me was TBBT and though the title seemed intriguing, I just got into the series real easily.

Y’see the word of TBBT  is precisely what most Indian male students, especially south Indian – if I can be bold enough to generalize – inhabit.  This nerdy culture, and very shy of talking to girls, and obsessed with academic trivia and a lot of personality disorders and insecurities - yup – fitted right in.

And it was a glimpse provided with a lot of affection and creativity.  Each character was etched and portrayed brilliantly. The situations remarkably surreal in getting the real-life nuances quite right.

For a real short time in the 1990s I had shacked up in a apartment with a student friend in Cambridge MA, and life there was sooo remarkably similar to this, where I got to see the lighter side of some of the most brilliant minds at play – only everyone was working and studying so hard that TBBT seems a party in comparison.  I also attended a few parties and gatherings at that time heard those jokes about Indians not mixing up or having the courage to talk to girls – which was partly but mostly true.

And for me TBBT also got the Indian angle real right.  It was a nice acknowledgement of the Indian contribution to the scientific community there, and all their idiosyncracies coming through.  Kunal Nayyar is also a brilliant actor who has got into the skin of the character and one can forgive and forget the errors in the script. (FYR while the name is South Indian everything about the character is from the north, including his parents and the references he keeps making).  Even Kunal who is fair by Indian standards plays it down, going darker and put on weight for sticking to the out-of-shape stereotype of Indian academics.

And like I have said before, it is only when everything comes together that things begin to look great. The writing was superlative, the characters strongly and well-etched out, the situations understandable and finally the actors who bring these characters to life that very few can.

In the initial seasons they managed to bring in other characters effortlessly – right from Amy to Sheldon and Leonard’s moms to  Bernadette  - they just weaved in naturally and took the series to further heights.

I found it hard to have one or two favourite moments.  Each time I catch an episode from the initial series – either through a repeat or sometimes on a flight, I automatically start considering it my favourite.

So here's to the original team of TBBT and thank you for about seven years of great glorious fun!!

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