Oh, don’t cringe! This isn’t going to be a rant about somebody stereotyping a whole group of people based on, well, on nothing. On the other hand, if you aren’t a TBBT-nerd, you might think I’m being obtuse to the point of obsession.
I watched an ‘unaired pilot’ of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ recently. I’d put up links to where you can download this episode from, but that would be superfluous. Go Google. Or something. (Yes, I bootlegged the episode. As rationalisation for my behaviour, here’s Stephen Fry’s take on bootlegging. I’d add that Amazon.com doesn’t even sell mp3s in India; so they have no reason to complain about ‘loss of revenue’.)
What you notice about this unaired pilot is how much more lifelike the characters are – yes, Sheldon and Leonard are still nerds, still socially awkward, and still clueless about women, but they aren’t the caricatures that the series that eventually got made has. What I mean is this: yes, Leonard Hofstadter finds Penny (‘Katy’ in the unaired pilot) and tries to befriend her, but he only wants to help her, and isn’t thinking of ‘our kids will be beautiful and smart’ (who remembers that from the ‘aired’ pilot? Sheldon says in reply: ‘not to mention imaginary’.)
Sheldon, as in the TV series, is more sociophobic than Leonard, but goes to bars, drinks, dances, and has even slept with Gilda. He also finds women with large hindquarters attractive. The blonde stereotype is shunned as well, in the series that did not get made. Sure, Katy is no astrophysicist, but she isn’t as clueless as the Penny from the TV series.
For me, the unaired pilot was vastly more intelligent, and by inference enjoyable, than what’s on TV now. In fact, the network that airs the series may have decided that the unaired pilot was too intelligent for their audience and asked Chuck Lorre to change things. It is also possible that Chuck Lorre decided that it is easier to draw out of any number of stereotypes of socially awkward nerds and put them together than to create and maintain lifelike characters for any reasonable amount of time.