Sunday, April 16, 2017

Defiance of Female Stereotypes in “The Big Bang Theory”

Female scientists on TV? Unbelievable! Not any more...

“The Big Bang Theory” is a CBS TV show produced by Chuck Lorre. This situation comedy, still popular in it’s tenth season, depicts the story of Sheldon Cooper, a theoretical physicist; Leonard Hofstadter, an experimental physicist; Penny Hofstadter, a pharmaceutical sales representative; Howard Wolowitz, an engineer; Rajesh Koothrappali, an astrophysicist at Caltech; Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist; and Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, a pharmaceutical biochemist. “The Big Band Theory” represents a forward thinking show, with equality between genders and female characters who are empowered and independent.

All three of the main female characters interact with one another and make choices independently from their male significant others. They are very intelligent and hold positions at levels that reflect their abilities. This was not always the case. Originally, Penny was an unsuccessful actress and waitress, but then she studied to become a pharmaceutical rep. After being hired for this position, her character has been portrayed as smarter and more self-confident. In Howard and Bernadette's case, Bernadette makes more money than Howard, defying the classical stereotype that men make more money than women. Bernadette manages the home finances, and in most cases, is also the head of the household, another position stereotypically held by the husband. Bernadette shows this while also expressing her motherly instincts after she had her baby. She runs the house, and commands everybody else in the household, including her husband and their male friends, reinforcing the stereotype of how mothers have strong maternal instincts, but also defying the stereotype that men are the leaders of the house.

Another important aspect of “The Big Bang Theory” is the fact that the women in the series are never objectified or referred to as sex objects, and all the men treat them with respect, and are not dominant over their significant others. The men in the series rarely talk about other women, and if they do, they never objectify women. The women have nights out together, and they almost never talk about other males. However, in Amy’s and Sheldon’s relationship, the stereotypical roles are reversed. Amy, at times, thinks of Sheldon as a sex object, such as when Amy fantasies about Sheldon being a sexy train engineer. This satirizes societal constructs set forth.

Amongst the men, Howard and Sheldon fall under the stereotypical “smart guy/nerd” umbrella, as they both are very nerdy, and are constantly expressing how smart they are. Their characters revolve around both their level of knowledge, and their love of comics and science fiction, such as “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” They are both somewhat socially awkward, another stereotypical trait of nerds. Because the characters are multidimensional, the show makes them human, and not just a stereotype.

Overall, “The Big Band Theory” is a forward thinking show that represents women as intelligent, empowered people. These characters seem to accurately represent the types of women one would find in the real world. So even though it is a light-hearted comedy, it takes women seriously.

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