"Set my DVR to record The Big Bang Theory. The whole world is watching this thing and I need to know why." When a character from a TV show makes a reference to another TV show (and especially if that character is Scrubs' Dr. Cox), then you know you have to check it out for yourself. If you are an engineering student, you have probably watched or at least heard of the American TV show The Big Bang Theory. Since its premiere in September 2007, the show has been a huge hit all over the world.
The Big Bang Theory centers around five main characters: Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj, who all work at the same university, and Penny, the "girl-next-door." Sheldon, a theoretical physicist who studies string theory, was a child prodigy who entered college after fifth grade and received his Ph.D. at the age of 16. Due to his talent, he condones almost all other fields of study other than his, particularly the humanities and liberal arts. Despite being extremely smart with an IQ of 187, he is socially awkward and is hopeless at dealing with delicate social situations. However, to be accepted in society he follows a set of guidelines that his mother taught him, such as offering a hot beverage for the guests in his home and saying "there, there" to comfort a troubled friend.
Howard is a Jewish aerospace engineer who still lives with his mother. He is perhaps the most perverted character on the show, as well as the worst dressed with his matching colors. Raj is a particle astrophysicist who comes from a very rich family in India. He absolutely cannot talk to girls unless he drinks alcohol. More often than not his sensitive and feminine side is revealed; although he is desperate to date any girl, the show frequently suggests that he is gay.
Leonard, an experimental physicist, lives together with Sheldon as roommates and therefore constantly has to deal with his outrageous requests and complaints. Although he looks like a stereotypical, unattractive nerd, he seems to get around. At one point during the series, he dates Penny, something that he has been constantly fantasizing over. Penny, who moved to LA to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, lives across the hallway from Leonard and Sheldon's apartment. She is the typical "girl-next-door": blond, beautiful and living adjacent to a man who thinks he is out of her league.
The show focuses on the relationships between the five main characters and their interactions with each other. Most of the jokes on the show are related to science, engineering and technology. For example, Sheldon dresses up as the Doppler effect for Halloween and expects everyone at Penny's party to understand how ingenious his idea is (if you're curious as to how anyone could dress up as a scientific phenomenon, watch the show or keep a look out for the hoodie design for KAIST's Department of Physics, which was inspired by this episode of The Big Bang Theory). Also, when Penny seeks relationship advice from Sheldon, he relates her situation to Schr_dinger's cat. He tells Penny that she should go on the date with Leonard to find out whether the cat is dead or alive. The only way to find out is to "open the box" which collapses the wave function of an uncertain date with Leonard into a specific outcome.
Although the show does not exactly portray the lives of engineering students, The Big Bang Theory is something that a lot of KAIST students would enjoy. It would not be uncommon for us to understand most of the scientific references and nerdy jokes because they are related to what we are currently learning at the university. The fact that we understand them is what makes the show funnier and more relatable.
Unlike the movie 3 Idiots, the show does not exaggerate or emphasize the hardships of scientists or engineering students (other than the difficulty of finding a girlfriend perhaps). It strengthens the stereotypes of science nerds while breaking them at the same time by showing the humorous and witty side of their lives. If the only reason you haven't watched it yet is because you are too hip to like something that everyone else is watching, then you are definitely missing out. Watching one of the short, 20-minute episodes of The Big Bang Theory is a nice way of taking a break from one's studies. So sit back and embrace your inner nerd; this show is bound to have you chuckling, and before you know it you'll be addicted. Just make sure you don't start watching during exam week, and you'll be fine.
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