The first season of The Big Bang Theory introduced many of the show’s most beloved elements, but certain aspects have become problematic with time.
In 2007, The Big Bang Theory debuted its first season to positive reviews from audiences and critics. It was the beginning of what would be a 12 year journey with a cast of adorkable characters who redefined what it meant to be a television nerd.Big Bang’s first season introduced most of the elements fans would grow to love, including five of the seven lead characters. However, certain aspects of this first season are questionable when looked at with a 2021 eye. Inappropriate behavior and problematic storylines permeate the many details that have aged poorly over the years.
PMS And AA
Big Bang made several cheap jokes throughout its run, the sort of humor that would provoke a Sheldon style laugh out of most people. At its best, the show offered funny yet clever quips, mixing science with comedy to create something unique in television. At its worst, it used unfunny jokes that came across as lazy and uninspired.One of the most glaring examples happens during season 1’s Physics Bowl episode. Leonard’s team chooses the name Perpetual Motion Squad, or PMS, while Sheldon goes with Army Ants, or AA. Big Bang loved joking about Sheldon’s socially awkward moments, but this particular joke is not only unfunny but plain dumb, especially because Sheldon supposedly grew up with an alcoholic father.
Raj’s Drunken Behavior
There are plenty of things about Raj that don’t make sense, making him one of the show’s most divisive characters. Some fans appreciate his sensitivity and humor, while others dislike how cruel he acts towards his friends. In season one, he spent a significant amount of time quiet because of his selective mutism.In the episode The Grasshopper Experiment, Raj learns that drinking alcohol will allow him to talk to women. He then gets drunk and becomes unbearably obnoxious while out with Lalita Gupta, a childhood acquaintance that his parents want him to date. Raj’s drunken behavior carried on for the rest of the show, and it always remained questionable at best and annoying at worst.
Sheldon Breaking Into Penny’s Apartment
Sheldon’s invasive nature and lack of boundaries are a prominent part of his characterization. He doesn’t understand when he’s being creepy or crossing a line and pushes the limits of appropriate behavior. Sheldon doesn’t act out of malice necessarily, but there are times when he knows he’s doing wrong, and he simply doesn’t care.Case in point, the show’s second episode, The Big Bran Hypothesis.After seeing how messy and dirty Penny’s apartment is, Sheldon uses the spare key she gave him and enters her apartment at night to clean it. Leonard insists they leave, but Sheldon gets his way, as usual. Penny is understandably shocked and demands her key back but forgives them in the end. Still, the plot showcases everything that’s wrong with Sheldon, and it becomes even more problematic in the current social climate.
The Laugh Track
Laugh tracks are a staple of sitcoms. They are one of the genre’s most defining qualities, an aspect that, despite its notoriety, has become increasingly dated with the years.The Big Bang Theory is far from the only sitcom where the laugh track becomes obnoxious after a while, but it is one of the most recent examples. And while the show employed this trait throughout its duration, it felt especially wonky in season one. Perhaps it was because the show was still finding its footing, or maybe because modern audiences are more annoyed by laugh tracks than ever.
Penny Lashing Out At The Guys
During one of The Big Bang Theory’s classic episodes, Leonard buys a life-size replica of the time machine from the movie, sending the gang into a frenzy. They have trouble getting up the stairs and end up blocking them, forcing Penny to try and jump to the adjacent building to make it to work on time. After she fails and hurts her knees, she storms into the guys’ apartment and lashes out at them, mocking their childish hobbies and calling them pathetic.Understandably, Penny would be angry at losing a day’s job, and the guys had no right to block the staircase. However, her words were not only overly harsh but also hypocritical because she too engages in childish interests and banal pursuits without anyone calling her pathetic. She also should’ve known that jumping across buildings wasn’t the smartest choice.
Raj’s Selective Mutism
As previously mentioned, Raj spends much of Big Bang’s early seasons quiet because of his selective mutism. However, the show is inconsistent with the particulars of his condition, choosing instead to use it as the butt of the joke. Indeed, Raj is often the guys’ punching bag, and it all begins in season one.Selective mutism is incredibly rare, and the show could’ve done something unique with Rajs character. Instead, it used it only as a way to point out how weird and nerdy Raj was and even made fun of him because of it. Rajs overall role in the show hasn’t aged particularly well, but his selective mutism is by far the worst offender.
Howard’s Overly Creepy Behavior
Perhaps the most infamous and questionable part of Big Bang’s early seasons is how creepy Howard was. He behaved wildly inappropriately to the women in his life, making rude and at times gross commentaries about them and pretty much earning their scorn.Penny is often disturbed by his presence because of how intense he is. What’s worse, the show doesn’t seem to make up its mind about whether Howard is a misunderstood but harmless guy desperately trying to make a connection or a borderline stalker trying to force himself on women. Howard changes the most out of all the characters in the show, and he arguably has the best character arc in The Big Bang Theory. However, that only makes his early behavior even more questionable.
The Show’s Treatment Of Geek Culture
The shows tagline for season one was Smart is the new sexy, suggesting it would show all the incredible ways so called nerd culture is. However it actually went the opposite way, using it to justify why the characters were clumsy and socially awkward.To make matters worse, it reinforced all the negative stereotypes that come with being a nerd. Girls, especially the ones that are conventionally pretty, can’t like comic books or superheroes. Cool guys work out instead of reading books. Intelligent kids get bullied in high school, and they grow to become borderline geniuses with social ineptitude. On and on, Big Bang reinforced the idea that smart isn’t the new sexy, it’s the same smart it always was. And considering how crucial these geeky elements were to its success, it’s shocking it never treated them with the respect they deserve.