To be clear: The show is not about comics, Superman, or comic geekdom. However...
Last week, due to a DVR catastrophe/ meltdown, we missed the opening episode of the new CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory", a title which suggests either something either more in the realm of Nova or skewing into the adult film spectrum than the show actually delivers.
I wouldn't normally be up on the latest of CBS's sitcom offerings, but The Big Bang Theory stars Jim Parsons, a guy I know from high school and whose mom is still very pally with The Karebear. This week we got ourselves situated and watched the show rather than just letting it record (Jamie had also missed Heroes last week, and was quite despondent).
I am delighted to say that Jim is great as Sheldon, one of two geeky physicists living in an apartment across the hall from "Penny", an attractive Cheesecake Factory waitress. Of course, Penny is pretty, so the geeks across the hall (Sheldon excepted) awkwardly try to pitch woo while becoming distracted with geeky pursuits. Sheldon is the one decidedly not infatuated with the girl, and is, perhaps, mildly annoyed by his friend's infatuation. The program is a sort of "clash of cultures" comedy that pits stereotypes of socially awkward, but brilliant, minds against the stereotypes of pretty, anti-intellectualism without ever really taking sides.
What's interesting is that Sheldon is supposed to be a DC Comics fan, as hinted at through wardrobe choices and the opening segment of this week's episode in which the geeks were prepping for a Superman movie marathon.
It is odd to know exactly where you stand when you hear characters uttering actual conversations you've had as a point of amusement. Especially when the conversation is accurate, according to The Science of Superman (although Wolverton doesn't foresee Lois being cut into pieces as much as being smushed when Superman saves her).
Alas, I suppose I know I'm a geek. The 20-somethings at work have remarked as much, as have most girls in middle-school and high school. My wife. My parents. Jason, as often as possible.
What I do find curious is that the show looks at these sorts of things as tics rather than merely deriding comic fandom as a clean intersection with loserdom on the geek Venn Diagram (although most of the audience will surely read it that way, bringing their own opinions into the mix). The show has to ask you to respect Leonard and Sheldon to some extent, or else the premise of the multi-camera sit-com won't work (single camera sit-coms do not ask that you actually like the stars of the show. See: The Office, US and UK, and Arrested Development). So, just as Dustin Hoffman once bought his underwear at Sears when he wasn't counting matchsticks, our intrepid heroes ponder the might of the Green Lantern Corps when not discussing Newtonian Physics.
Further, its a sign that the 80's (and perhaps the 90's) have ended that the premise of the show is NOT the transformation of the leads "from geek to chic", but in letting Penny, and therefore the audience, discover the men behind the Superman t-shirts.
Now, from experience, I assure you, comic fandom may come part and parcel with a PhD in Physics (though I doubt it), but comic fandom absolutely does not equal genius in the sciences or much of anything else. It is nice, however, that the stereotype of my early comic reading days, that comics were for the dimwitted, apparently no longer applies (I was asked a question along these lines during an e-mail exchange with a journalist when I wrote for Comic Fodder. I was asked if I found readers to be kind of slow, or wasn't it a sign that the readers had no imagination of their own. No, she had no idea she was being sort of insulting.).
I withhold any opinion on The Big Bang Theory until more episodes air. I'm not sure how they intend to make the premise work over multiple seasons, but the producers do seem keenly aware that the trick to a show is a simple premise at first, then to build around the characters.
Anyhow, tune in and watch Jim.