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Theoretical Genius

Gavan Reilly gets his head around The Big Bang Theory

While more well-known American output like 30 Rock and Mad Men were the main headline grabbers at last week’s Primetime Emmy Awards, one cult series with a rapidly-growing fanbase managed to grab its first major nominations at any awards ceremony, and is slowly making an impact on mainstream consciousness with its snappy dialogue and smart nods to modern culture.

tbbtThe Big Bang Theory, created by Chuck Lorre of How I Met Your Mother fame, tells the story of physicists and roommates Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter, whose feelings of intellectual superiority are thrown into chaos when attractive waitress Penny moves into the empty apartment across the hall. Sheldon’s utter lack of humility and idiosyncratic need for routine act as a comic foil when juxtaposed against Penny’s social savvy and stereotyped bimbo ways. Leonard, harbouring a deep crush on Penny, tries to mediate between the two and invariably sees his romantic ambitions frustrated by his faultless honesty and Sheldon’s incessant complaints, as well as the sleaziness and sheer ineptitude respectively of colleagues Howard and Raj.

Though the general concept of the show is not an original one – pretty girl, socially inept boys, romance is stifled and hilarity ensues – there are refreshing modern touches to the lifestyle the characters lead. The show knowingly namedrops references to Facebook and MySpace status updates, and has even evolved over its relatively brief history to include more modern references to Twitter and Kindle. The four men even have their own real-life Twitter pages, smartly synchronised with the narrative of the show, tapping intelligently into the market the show is predominantly aimed at.

Don’t be dissuaded by the obvious geekiness of the topics discussed by the four men; while obviously having their scientific passions, they have their modern indulgences like fast food, paintballing and Rock Band; and Penny’s everyday take on their own complicated subjects, cutely amplified by her slow integration into their own geeky world keeps the content universally appealing. The whole package is neatly wrapped together by witheringly wry put-downs and an absurdly entertaining ensemble cast. TBBT is certainly worth investigation for nerds and bimbos alike – besides, if ever geek chic was at its zenith, these are its golden days, and The Big Bang Theory is a cracking embodiment of how inclusive it can be.

Series 3 of The Big Bang Theory began in the U.S. last week; the first two series air regularly on Channel 4 and RTÉ Two.