CBS Television

I thoroughly enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory on CBS.

It’s a television program about a group of young, male, scientific geniuses who interact with life mostly through their non-genius, female, neighbor.

While the actors are good, and the dialogue is clever, what really makes the show exceptional is the performance of actor Jim Parsons in the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

Sheldon’s friends are mostly incapable of comfortable human interaction because of sheltered childhoods or overindulged desires for input and analysis.  He differs from them in that his anti-social behavior is not brought on by a lack of experience with other people.

Sheldon is incalculably brilliant.

Because of his intellect, Sheldon has incredibly high self-esteem and an overly developed sense of pride. His inability to make significant connections with others is a result of his refusal to regard them as worthy of his time and consideration.

He’s curt, smug, dismissive, and hilarious.

While his friends have all been trained in the American dream of flexibility and tolerance, Sheldon has deduced that forcing his preferences onto others not only produces satisfying results, it also confirms his rightful place at the top of the heaping pile where intellect and imagination meet.

Sheldon’s friends all have inferiority complexes; Sheldon has a superiority complex.

Sheldon doesn’t believe in God because he has logically deduced that God can’t exist.  He is rigid because he doesn’t take things on faith; he believes only what is measurable and provable.

Because he has been “measured and proven” to be superior, he believes that everyone else should recognize his pre-eminence and cater to him.  In Sheldon’s world everything bows to Sheldon, the episodes often revolve around how Sheldon’s inflexibility and assertiveness causes the rest of the group to consistently give in to him… then resent him.

In dramatic or difficult situations Sheldon rests in the knowledge “he’s smarter…” and others will eventually “come around to seeing that he’s right”.  Sheldon’s superiority demands that he doesn’t make adjustments, everyone else adjusts to him.

He is the master of his universe.

Through logic, Sheldon hasn’t just proven that there is no God, he has replaced God with himself.  Because of his intellection, he believes that he is both the immovable object and the irresistible force.

If Jim Parson’s performances are what make The Big Bang Theory exceptional, what makes it truly funny is the places that Sheldon’s immense self-belief take him.

Sheldon believes that the world should bend to him, even though he doesn’t actually have the power to “make it so”. While he may have superior brain power, he is still physically and socially inferior to the people he believes that he is better than.

Sheldon’s lack of actual power over humans, especially the non-genius Blonde next door, usually proves to be his undoing.

As fun as it is to watch Sheldon “lord it over” his minions for the first 15 minutes of the program, it’s much funnier to watch things unravel for him over the last 10 minutes. It’s often a cunning commentary on the fact that intelligence and knowledge do not coalesce into wisdom without both life experience and a humility brought on by failure.

We aren’t so different from Sheldon are we?

We know better than everybody else.

We believe our thoughts and opinions are best.

We believe we have the power to accomplish our will.

We investigate our universe’s origins while ignoring its authorship.

Isn’t our personal failure both measurable and provable?

 Isn’t it verified and compiled by an overwhelming amount of witnesses?

In the face of consistent and persistent failure, humanity continues to assert our own superiority, but isn’t our personal superiority actually something that we choose to believe by faith?

In the area of perceived personal-righteousness and transcendence, Sheldon proves himself to be a man of faith.  In the worship of science, comic books, and ultimately himself he demonstrates that he is also a man of religion.  In the demand that his preferences and opinions must be catered to he also proselytizes for his very precise and narrow doctrines.

The Big Bang Theory is both funny and sad because it is an honest look into the heart of a humanity that sets itself up as both the exception and the rule to human religion, and like a good scientist it never takes itself too seriously… no matter how smart it is.


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