UPDATE: I saw two episodes.
Catching up on my journals, this Science Magazine fluff interview (sorry, subscription only) with experimental particle physicist David Saltzberg caught my eye. Dr. Saltzberg is the science advisor to the TV show The Big Bang Theory, in which *gasp* nerdy male physicists nerdily woo *double gasp* their sexy and unattainble blond bombshell neighbor. He’s pretty defensive about criticism that the show is sexist:
Most of the show’s detractors, he notes, have never seen a whole episode. Prady stresses that The Big Bang Theory means no ill will. “If the scientific community is concerned with how we depict them, be gentle and be patient,” he says. “We are you; we love you.”
Ok, I’ve never seen an episode, but I might just based on this challenge. Still, no matter how he spins it, there’s nothing new about the male-geek-chases-popular-hot-girl trope. And I, for one, am really sick of it. Clearly, Saltzberg does not understand how condescending this is:
Saltzberg views the show as a tool for science education: PBS’s NOVA with rim shots. During an awkward date, Leonard gets an olive to rotate inside a glass–and corrects Penny, and likely most viewers, that centripetal, not centrifugal, force explains the trick.
This may say “physics is cool,” but it also strongly says that “men do the science, women are the pretty.” There’s just as much gender indoctrination as science education in that scene. In the words of the inimitable Zuska, I puke on The Big Bang Theory‘s shoes.
I am bit raw on this, having just been accosted by a drunk American tourist who accused me of computing on my vacation. When I explained that I was, in fact, a (baby) marine biologist at work, he laughed uproariously and said, “Yeah, and I’m a NASA rocket scientist!” while walking away.