I've quit watching The Big Bang Theory. It's in its, what, eighth season now, and for me, has been becoming less funny with every passing year, until now it feels like an abusive relationship. Of course, it's more popular then ever, its main stars have just negotiated for something like a million bucks an episode, and the public just can't get enough of the show, if all the merchandising tie-ins are any indication.
But I'm done. I was done at the end of Season Three, really, but I hung on, hoping that maybe the show would go back to being funny, that they'd ditch the uber-creepy Amy and bring back the glorious odd-couple dynamic between Sheldon and Penny, or that at least they'd stop letting the show slide into a parody of the geek culture that it was fast becoming. I figured that Chuck Lorre was just off his game after his protracted struggles with Charlie Sheen, and that he'd start paying closer attention to his "other" show once he had his wranglings with "Two and a Half Men" straightened out.
No such luck. Sheldon stopped being childlike and forgiveably obnoxious and became 100% selfish prick, all the time--and now he's a mean-spirited, vindictive selfish prick, too--Penny turned into a pointless, alcoholic slut, Raj became even more suspiciously gay, and Amy...my God, for a neurobiologist, she's one freaked out piece of work. Why would any girl stay with an emotionally abusive boyfriend like Sheldon, unless she's making a case study of whatever neuroses he's being controlled by? I don't care how sexually hard-up she is, Sheldon just isn't worth it, she could get more genuine satisfaction out of a cucumber, and since the actor who plays him came out of the closet, the whole dynamic is just icky. And I never did like Leonard, who never seemed to be able to tell the truth, and who hasn't gotten much better with that. At least he stayed consistent.
The only characters who were mildly tolerable were Howard and Bernardette. Who would have guessed that the smarmy, skirt-chasing Wolowitz would become the nice, married guy? Well, now he's involved in a strange pseudo-sibling rivalry with the totally useless secondary character of Stuart, who lost his comic book shop in a fire, and who is now the live-in personal aide to Howard's obese and domineering mother. And Bernie has become an amoral shrew who sees nothing wrong with pushing questionable pharmaceuticals or bullying her friends and co-workers.
And this is meant to make us laugh, is it?
I hung on doggedly, hoping to find at least one funny joke in an episode. I wasn't looking forward to this new season, and at least in that way, I wasn't disappointed. In the season premiere, I don't think I laughed once. I do remember laughing three times, though--once when Sheldon and Howard were having a debate over who's smarter, an engineer or a physicist; once when Bernardette encouraged Penny to study for her new job, because it "can't hurt to be the teacher's pet" and the others asked "Who here ever got hurt by being the teacher's pet?" and they all raised their hands; and the little post-episode bit where the boys are playing science trivia questions for candy bars, and look like they're actually enjoying themselves, rather than Sheldon moping and the other three grudgingly going along with it. One asks "Why didn't the girls like us in school?" and another answers "Because we're nerdy and weird and no good at sports?" and the four of them cheer.
Perhaps it's because I'm out of step with the rest of the country, or perhaps it's because I know the sort of guys this show is making fun of. Or maybe it's because I had such high hopes for the series when it started, back when it was funny, and before it devolved into making fun of the very people it was supposed to be celebrating. In any event, we ceremoniously wiped it from our DVR queue.
Now to find something else to do with our Thursday evenings...