When it comes to the science-orientated CBS comedy show The Big Bang Theory there have been mixed reviews from ‘real-life’ scientists, resulting in various blog entries on why they love or hate the show. Some believe that it gives a negative view on scientists, others simply enjoy the comedic approach to topics they identify with. Nevertheless, when disregarding personal opinions on the jokes and the characters, there is no denying that the show has brought science into our homes and popular culture.
Popular culture is often viewed as being something trivial, reflecting the tastes of the general public, but it’s also a way of introducing new ideas to the masses. I’ll use my sister as an example…
My sister Rosie is 12 years old and The Big Bang Theory is undoubtedly her favourite programme on TV. So of course she knows the theme song by heart, and can often be heard quoting Sheldon Cooper (bazinga!) Yet, I am also aware that it has inspired her to pursue new interests. Although she has always been interested in animals, since watching The Big Bang Theory this has developed into an interest in biology, with particular fascination in how animals live. In the show, a potential source of inspiration for this could be Bernadette. Bernadette is a microbiologist, and as well as achieving in her field is also considered to be one of the more socially accepted characters. Rosie says:
“The Big Bang Theory has made science more interesting to me. It’s a funny show that makes you take notice of the science facts – they are included in the stories and are shown in a fun way! My favourite character is Sheldon.”
At the moment she is into creepy crawlies – she has bought a Spider World kit, and can sit for hours analysing the ants living on our tree in the garden under a magnifying glass!
Television has always been considered a good way of capturing children’s attention, and if done in the right way can educate as well as entertain. It’s a way of making science accessible. For Rosie, The Big Bang Theory seems to be doing something right! After all, I never thought I would overhear my little sister discussing the Large Hadron Collider (true story), or be answering some of the science questions whilst watching The Chase. “Where did you learn that?” I asked. “The Big Bang Theory,” she said.