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Television Government

What Non-Geeks Hate About the Big Bang Theory 406

v3rgEz writes: It has been said that there is a lot to dislike about the Big Bang Theory, from the typical geek's point of view: It plays in stereotypes of geekdom for cheap laughs, makes non-sensical gags, and has a laugh track in 2015. But what does the rest of America (well, the part of America not making it the number one show on television) think? FCC complaints recently released accuse the show of everything from animal cruelty to subliminal messaging, demanding that the sitcom be ripped from the airwaves lest it ruin America. The full complaints for your reading pleasure.
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What Non-Geeks Hate About the Big Bang Theory

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:12PM (#50665267)

    The most painful thing about this show are the "jokes" which are telegraphed to the audience by the world's most obnoxious laugh track.

    • Laugh tracks are also a crime against comic timing, possibly second only to post-production editing, which should be done absolutely minimally in the case of a sitcom.

      There was a blog post a while back from someone who went to see a sitcom being recorded, with audience, and loved every minute of it. When it came to the TV broadcast, though, they'd edited it to shreds, forcing in the best takes of just about every individual line instead of letting longer parts play out in one take. It was abysmal.

      Same thing

      • they'd edited it to shreds... It was abysmal.

        Once you know how they make sausage, it doesn't taste so good anymore.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:48PM (#50665589) Journal

      I'm an old fogie and used to laugh tracks. Most "light" comedies seem awkward without them. It guess it's hard to make every generation happy.

      But as far as the show, I sometimes get a "geek" kick out of it. You get dialog similar to:

      A: "Rats, according to my carefully considered forecasts, I'll probably die before they can upload human conscientiousness into androids so one can live forever."

      B: "Oh great, you'll really want to mill around as an awkward, annoying robot?"

      A: "You claim I'm awkward and annoying now. How is that a change?"

      B: "You sleep a third of the day now."

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        > I'm an old fogie and used to laugh tracks. Most "light" comedies seem awkward without them. It guess it's hard to make every generation happy.

        I grew up with them too. I think what really destroyed them for me was that, after I realized they existed, I noticed....they just keep using the same one over and over. Its like that Wilhelm Scream. Once your recognize it....its not part of the scene anymore...its jarring.

        I don't hear "people laughing" I hear "that laugh track", the same one I have heard since I

    • There is no laugh track. They film in front of a live studio audience every single week. My sister and I have attended a taping. If you don't believe me, watch the special features from the DVD seasons or go here: http://tvtickets.com/fmi/shows... [tvtickets.com] to get your own tickets.

      For scenes that they don't film live because they're filmed outside or on location (like where Howard throws out the first pitch for the Los Angeles Angels' game), they take that clip and show it to the live studio audience to record t

  • There is a lot of sex in soaps, most of it handled in a fair less discreet way than BBT. Pretending that people haven't watched TV for the sex on it for the last 50 years is a bit naive. (some Soaps have been running that long!).

  • Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I didn't realize the show was supposed to be about geeks. I thought it was ironically portraying the disconnect between the academic pursuit of science and things that happen in the real world. Real scientists are busy doing real work for real money. Meanwhile Big Bang Theorists are trying to figure out why the gay actor's character is so clumsy with women.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:19PM (#50665325)

      I don't watch it because it's a bit like going to work. I work in an engineering R&D firm, and there are quite a few characters here. Certainly Big Bang Theory is a sitcom and exaggerates things to dramatic effect, but there have been real life situations over here that aren't shown on TV because people wouldn't find them credible.

      Imagine a place of employment where nobody is bad as Sheldon, maybe only a half Sheldon. But there are 10 of them, and they each have their own peculiar quirks and tastes in their Sheldon-ness.

    • I didn't realize the show was supposed to be about geeks. I thought it was ironically portraying the disconnect between the academic pursuit of science and things that happen in the real world.

      I've never seen it.

      I take it they intended to do "Dilbert in hard-science academia" but were about as effective as liberal artists usually are when they try to portray anything on the physics or engineering side of the fence?

  • ,,,are Geeks.

    They would like to be, but lack the essential 'hacker' mentality required to Be a Geek.

    Most of them are unimaginative morons, although highly educated.

    A highly educated moron is easy to achieve with modern education; they can calculate something without any understanding whatsoever.

    • Actually there's no hacker mentality required to be a geek. Stop gatekeeping what a geek is.

      Like, the hacker mentality kinda sucks, actually. It's convinced a lot of people that broken software like Windows is worth keeping around because there are work arounds for the warts in the system.

      Whatever happened to just having a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for something?

      Or biting heads off chickens? If you're not biting heads off chickens, you're not a real geek.

      • The show is OK, but isn't really for geeks and none of the characters are much like any geek I've ever known. I always wonder, does the Sheldon character like Windows and Microsoft because they get a kickback? I find it implausible that his character would be not just a user, but a true MSFT fan.

        • The show is OK, but isn't really for geeks and none of the characters are much like any geek I've ever known.

          Go to a con sometime.... you will encounter every geek stereotype you can imagine. While one might legitimately argue that the characters on BBT are exaggerations of what the the average geek is probably like, if what I encounter whenever I go to a con is any indication at all, I would say they are probably not more than a standard deviation or so away from the norm, and I find that it is not remotely an unbelievable cross-section of nerd-dom. Truth be told, it's unlikely many people would consider a sitcom about more typical nerds to be very funny anyways (and while a lot of people don't think BBT is very funny, one only has to look at the ratings to realize that there exists no small number of people that think otherwise).

          But honestly, many of the people I encounter at cons make the characters on BBT seem tame in comparison, I have more than encountered my share of Sheldons, Leonards, Howards, and Raj's.

          • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:01PM (#50666205)

            Go to a con sometime.... you will encounter every geek stereotype you can imagine. While one might legitimately argue that the characters on BBT are exaggerations of what the the average geek is probably like, if what I encounter whenever I go to a con is any indication at all, I would say they are probably not more than a standard deviation or so away from the norm,

            People who attend cons are self-selected groups, and trying to determine a "norm" from such a group would be a mistake. It is also a positive feedback loop, where edge-of-the-curve geeks flock because they create an environment where they're comfortable.

            It's like going to a smoking lounge in an airport, counting heads, and saying that "smoking is the norm".

            • by mark-t ( 151149 )

              My point is that the characters *ARE* fairly "normal" when compared with such a group, and since many of the characters are supposed to be geeks and/or nerds anyways, it's my observation that the characters are not that unrepresentative of the subculture that they are supposed to be portraying. In my opinion, people who say they don't know any nerds like the characters on that show probably haven't ever attended events where nerds of *ALL* types tend to gather. The characters may come across as being

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The show is OK, but isn't really for geeks and none of the characters are much like any geek I've ever known.

          I'm a physicist in Pasadena. I know more than a few people like each of the characters, and may or may not be similar to some of them.

          The first three seasons were pretty good, and there are (or at least were) quite a few physics in-jokes, but it's hard to maintain something like that and they've turned most of the characters into caricatures of their earlier season versions.

    • This post is a prime candidate for /r/iamverysmart :P.

    • Ah, the true Scotsman and all that. I do enjoy The Big Bang Theory and I dislike Mr. Robot. Also, I only liked Star Trek when I was a little kid. Ditto for Dr. Who.
      • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:35PM (#50665477)
        I like it, too; it's got it's problems, but it makes me laugh, which is the point. If anything, though, I see it more as the wet dream of nerds - they all get women (some of them quite attractive, some of them nerdy themselves - which is very attractive to a lot of nerds). I work in a very creative environment, with a lot of animators and artists - and a lot of them like the show. They all have toy collections and nerdy sides to them. The show doesn't have intellectual humor - it just makes you think it does; at the end of the day, it's like a lot of other sitcoms where we watch the lives of a bunch of social misfits - like the Simpsons, Married with Children, Seinfeld...
        • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:24PM (#50665921)

          My sentiments also. Yes, the geekery is dumbed down for general audiences, but would it be the #1 sitcom if the endless comic book references were Neal Stephenson references instead? It does manage to nail a significant number of nerd-culture specialties, such as the pecking order among different types of scientists and engineers, and the angry little academic wrangles that perfectly illustrate Kingsley Amis' comment, "The reason that academic disputes are so bitter is that the stakes are so small." It gets away with a lot of ethnic humor and innuendos hitherto reserved for cable.

          The FCC complaints from religious cranks among the general audiences are exactly the same as complaints about other top shows. Civilization means that such people write letters to government bureaus, rather than chopping peoples' heads off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ,,,are Geeks.

      They would like to be, but lack the essential 'hacker' mentality required to Be a Geek.

      Most of them are unimaginative morons, although highly educated.

      A highly educated moron is easy to achieve with modern education; they can calculate something without any understanding whatsoever.

      I've always considered the show to be "blackface" for nerds.

      • by Canth7 ( 520476 )

        I've always considered the show to be "blackface" for nerds.

        Or "White Chicks" for Monty Python writers.

      • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:29PM (#50666439)

        I've always considered the show to be "blackface" for nerds.

        The show has evolved over the years. While it used to be a compare and contrast of geeks versus normal people, it's now a show about relationships.

        Leonard and Penny's benchmark "normal, but nerdy" relationship compared to Howard and Bernadette's cuckolding relationship, compared to Amy's needs with Sheldon, and finally to Raj's struggle to find a keep a girlfriend.

        It used to be geeks v. world. Now it's geeks v. geeks. It's why Raj talks to women now, and why we rarely see them interact with "normies" except to setup a problem that each couple treats differently -- or that the boys treat differently than the vastly-more-normal girls.

        [For what it's worth, I never found it be nerd blackface. We both laughed at and with them...]

      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @12:29AM (#50667607)

        I don't see that. Black face is intensely offensive. Big Bang Theory only insults people without a sense of humor who can't laugh at themselves. Geeks should never become a protected class, that's ridiculous. Speaking as a nerd myself, nerds are indeed funny. To try and equate these two things is offensive in itself.

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @04:45AM (#50668505) Journal

          I don't see that. Black face is intensely offensive. Big Bang Theory only insults people without a sense of humor who can't laugh at themselves

          Blackface is offensive because it insults black people be reinforcing stereotypes that are not really true outside of prejudiced perception. The big bang theory, in contrast, insults geeks by reinforcing stereotypes that are not really true outside of a prejudiced perception. It's therefore completely different and not offensive.

    • ,,,are Geeks.

      None of the geeks I know watch TV.
      They are too busy getting stuff done.

      • I don't think I have ever watched an episode of BBT, because what little I have seen of the characters makes my skin crawl.

      • None of the geeks I know watch TV.
        They are too busy getting stuff done.

        You don't know any geeks who watch Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead or...

        I like the Big Bang Theory. It's not smart, it doesn't try to be smart but I find it plenty funny. Sure they laugh at the geeks, but they also laugh at the non-geeks. Geeks are getting pissed off because geeks are being made fun of but it's like South Park, there is nobody who is off limits so it's fine. The geeks are dumb and the regular people are neanderthals. Bafoonery is a old reliable source of comedy.

    • As a long term geek, I cannot stand this show. None of the geeks I know watch it (although that is like a the liberal from Manhattan wondering how Nixon was elected even though none of their friends voted for him). It's just a generic multi camera sit com that plays to the lowest common denominator like shows such as Friends before it.

      Personally, I always thought Community was the show that geeks watched.

  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:20PM (#50665331) Homepage

    This show reminds me of "Friends" in so many ways it's frightening. It's a cookie-cutter production, seemingly. You just have different personality experts working this show.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Canth7 ( 520476 )
      As a self professed geek, I get a lot more out of the sophomoric humor in Friends than I ever have out of the BBT. Or maybe it's all just a moo point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • It has similarities to Friends, for sure.

      The biggest and most obvious one, and the one that gets people feeling that way, has to be the set layout. The sets for the two apartments are almost identical and shot from the exact same perspective. The only difference is that the kitchens are on opposite sides of the room.

    • This show reminds me of "Friends" in so many ways it's frightening. It's a cookie-cutter production, seemingly. You just have different personality experts working this show.

      the vast majority of tv comedies these days are Friends ripoffs. that's the way hollywood works. before that, it was Seinfeld ripoffs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:21PM (#50665337)

    There was some genuine geekiness in the beginning but it is all gone now. Now its a show about stupid obnoxious people trying to seem smart... not at all as fun as it was in the beginning when it was about nice people with personality problems.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:21PM (#50665341)
    Probably one of the worst sitcoms I've ever tried to watch. Go to youtube and search "big bang theory without laugh track" and see what I mean.
    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:37PM (#50665499) Homepage

      Go to youtube and search "big bang theory without laugh track" and see what I mean.

      What does that tell you? All it tells you is that we're used to a certain presentation of certain forms of entertainment, and when our expectations are not met it's jarring and disconcerting. Take a non-laugh-tracked "sitcom" (if they still fit that definition) like Peep Show or The Office or [insert non-laugh tracked sitcom you do find funny here] and add a laugh track and it will probably be just as un-funny because it throws the whole thing out of whack.

      Take a production of MacBeth and have everyone perform it in flippers. Probably not going to last long.

      If something makes someone laugh (for example, BBT with audience laughter), it's funny. If something doesn't make someone laugh (for example, BBT without laugh track) that doesn't mean that the first version wasn't "funny", and that the viewer must be therefore have been suffering some kind of delusion when they laughed the first time round.

      You don't find BBT funny either way; fine. That doesn't mean anyone who does is wrong, whether they laugh at the un-laugh-tracked version or not.

    • by jfengel ( 409917 )

      I didn't care for BBT, either, but pretty much all laugh-track sitcoms sound like that when you remove the canned laughter. Friends, for example, fares no better [youtube.com]. The whole pacing of the show is designed around the laugh track.

      So are the jokes. The laugh track clues you in to laugh, so they don't have to work really hard to make the script work. They basically hook an audience with a few characters they engage with and some stock lines, and then just repeat the formula. Once they've got them, people really

    • by khelms ( 772692 )
      Try watching just about any movie without the music. It won't seem as dramatic or scary or sad or whatever they're shooting for because we're trained to associate certain types of music with certain types of emotional responses.
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:38PM (#50665509) Journal

    Ok, not to break up a (somewhat) popular hate fest, but you HAVE to realize, for any given sitcom on commercial TV, there's inevitably going to be FCC complaints, many of which are going to be ... strange. Consider, in any group of people 300M large, a significant fraction of which watch TV, a significant fraction of *that* having no other damn thing going in their lives, what the heck do you THINK is going to happen? We used to call these people Fred and Ethyl, after Lucy's hapless elderly neighbors. Fred and Ethyl eat dinner off tin fold-up TV trays and watch TV in real time, including commercials. Fred and Ethyl can't tell the difference between rubber brains and the head meat of small animals. They think objects thrown from offstage must be from monkeys in a cage because that's what the dialog alludes to. They think the sounds of a cat squalling are being made by someone torturing a cat just behind that fake window there. Combine this with the current fashion of being offended at the tiniest opportunity, and what do you THINK is going to happen?

    This article speaks more about the reporters than the reportees. It's non-news, but it bashes a show that some geeks don't like. So let's go with it. (In Kevin Kline's voice) DisapPOINTed.

    And finally, it's not a laugh track -- it's a multicamera studio production in front of a live audience. Geeze.

    I thought this was news for nerds. Not news for clueless nerds.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:44PM (#50665559) Homepage Journal
    If you don't like the show then don't watch it anymore, but don't go trying to enforce your standards on everyone else.
  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:44PM (#50665565) Homepage
    I'm such a geek that I honestly thought this discussion would be about the real big bang theory.

    I haven't watched sitcoms or network television in over twenty years.
  • by seoras ( 147590 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:50PM (#50665609)

    Chill. It's not worth getting worked up about. It's just a TV show.
    I personally enjoy it and the characters, it's no worse or better than The Simpsons, Family Guy or South Park.
    The acting has as many dimensions.
    I do enjoy reading Chuck Lorre's vanity cards and I often wonder where he gets his inspiration from.
    An entertaining writer, not a serious one, just a good comedy satirist.
    If it makes you laugh, great. If it doesn't, don't watch it.

    • If it makes you laugh, great. If it doesn't, don't watch it.

      I feel the same about football -- but that, sadly, does not fly with certain geeks. There are people who not only don't like certain entertainments, but are offended by those who do.

      Some kind of an insecurity thing, I guess.

    • WTF would possess anyone to complain to the FCC about Big Bang Theory, not the network, but the FCC, fucking seriously? Those complaints should go directly to the garbage bin, because anyone who writes one is clearly too stupid to be allowed to have the means of communicating with other humans.

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:00PM (#50665699)

    I'm not a fan of BBT at all, for the various reasons described on the "geek" side above. But I gotta say, after reading these complaints...wow. Yeah, the show's not getting taken down anytime soon on account of these chuckleheads.

    Here's a subset of a particular gem:

    He is harass and reached out via his mother for helped and asked them to stop-In other words he reported it, his mother reported it and the bullying proceed. -message that we as responsible adults want to give to our children and others

    Okay, that's about all I can take of that. There's only so much I can stand of prose written by a lifetime aficionado of the flavor of paint chips.

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

    FCC complaints are not really the place to go for anything. The only people who ever complain to the FCC about anything other than radio interference are..... crackpots and wingnut commanders. Yes, there are enough crackpots out there with enough free time to generate some complaints, but that doesn't mean its anything other than the ravings of the insane.

    You may as well read the writings of Francis E Dec Esquire.

  • ... but since year one, the program has morphed from a fairly geeky show into "Friends with Nerds". Meh. If I want sexual innuendo, there are other shows that do it better. Time to bring it to an end.
  • I actually feel bad for some lowly analyst job at the FCC that has to read each and every one of these complaints and issue some type of a response to the complaint. In between fits of laughter from what was submitted, and uncontrollable crying when you realize you're job is to read them.

  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES ( 2546640 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:33PM (#50665977)

    This show stands alone in the history of entertainment as the one piece of media that I decided willfully not to give any chance whatsoever, regardless of input from friends and relatives. I read the premise of the pilot, was insulted, and said to myself "the masses of above average intelligence normies are going to LOVE this crap". Now, in 2015, I feel privileged that I couldn't pick a single Big Bang theory actor out of a lineup. Also, get off my lawn.

  • But alas, Big Bang Theory has jumped its shark and become plain stupid and tedious.

  • As a geek, I can definitely relate to it. I'm married to a much less geeky wife, and our relationship dynamic is definitely similar to Penny and Leonards, with him being book smart but life challenged, and her being life smart but academically challenged. Sure it's an exaggeration of a stereotype, but so much of comedy is.

    Of course, the exception where my wife goes against type is in her relatively new hobby of collecting Pop Vinyls figurines, which even makes her go into comic book stores and the like
  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:48PM (#50666099)
    The most irritating thing about Big Bang Theory is my relatives telling me I would love it because I'm smart and into computers.
  • You'd think for being educated, they'd have a higher level of wit. I find in life the smarter someone is, the more entertaining their jokes can be. But enough of the show, if you want some cheap laughs, go back and read all the comments in this thread in Sheldon's voice. It is comedy gold since everyone is over analyzing.
  • by Nehmo ( 757404 ) <nehmo54@hotmail.com> on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:12PM (#50666301)

    This is /., not People magazine. The big bang theory is firstly about the beginning of our universe. This predates the TV sitcom that adopted the name. Submitter should punctuated the title to indicate he/she was referring to the name of the sitcom.

    Nowadays, misleading titles translates into rudely wasting people's time. The sloppy title counts as a fault as serious as you can get in terms of punctuation errors.

  • by Jack Frost ( 4283017 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:15PM (#50666325)
    I live near Burbank where the Big Bang Theory is recorded. The show's not that funny, fine, but it's fun to watch them tape it. I've been in the audience. While I can't speak for everyone there, I'm not a robot and I was given the authority of when to laugh. There's no "Laugh Now Or We'll Find You" signs. People literally laugh out at the slightest thing. I assume it's because only the most ardent fans go through the trouble of attending (the whole process can take 7-10 hours). As for the weird faux laugh-track; audiences are recorded separately from the actor's mics. I wouldn't put it past studio to "rev up" the audience track on the jokes that fall short. The interesting thing is that when a joke fails (not that uncommon; surprised?), you see the writers huddling next to the director, and after a few minutes reshoot the scene with a different joke/line. It's interesting to watch the process, if not exhausting. TL;DR: I've been in the Big Bang Theory audience; real humans, actually laughing with their mouth holes
    • As for the weird faux laugh-track; audiences are recorded separately from the actor's mics. I wouldn't put it past studio to "rev up" the audience track on the jokes that fall short.

      I would imagine they don't bother synchronizing the audience reaction with the show, and instead pick out clips of genuine audience laughter and splice it back into the final show in editing. Otherwise the shots where the actor keeps blowing a line and the 5th take is the keeper, there would be no laughter because the audience

  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @11:58PM (#50667487)
    I dislike it because it's not funny. Like, at all.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:05AM (#50668143)

    It should read "what soccer moms without a real problem hate about the BBT".

    This is a prime example of complaints from people who have nothing to complain about but want to feel outraged about some shit. Seriously. What the fuck is this? This is a perfect display of PC bullying. Yes, the jokes are sometimes crude, graphic and silly. But that's what makes jokes funny. You know funny, right? Like "What's the opposite of Christopher Reeves? Christopher Walken." Yes, that's tasteless, yes that's VERY offensive, but most of all, it's insanely funny. Yes, I can laugh about that. And for fuck's sake, I WANT to laugh about that. Deal with it. If you don't like to hear me talking, if you don't want to hear me tell such jokes, it's well within your rights to not listen to me.

    You think that show is not suitable for your kids? Then don't let them watch it. Simple as that. The TV is not your cheap babysitter, and I refuse to let you turn it into one. Because that would also mean that I only get to see Teletubbies and similar rubbish. You wanted kids. Now deal with it. It's YOUR kids. Not mine. And don't you dare shifting the burden of raising them onto me.

    Raise them or shoot them. Either is fine with me, but don't dump them on society!

  • What I hate.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:29AM (#50668249) Homepage Journal

    What I hate about the Big Bang Theory is the temporal asymmetry of a low entropy point just choosing to pop into existence with no understood process for getting that low entropy situation out of an earlier higher entropy situation. Either it did, or it didn't. Either way, it's asymmetric.

  • Man, Big Bang Theory (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @04:17AM (#50668421)

    I have so called "geek" friends who keep insisting this is the best show ever.

    Please, check out The IT Crowd [imdb.com] instead. Not only that show is hilarious in ways BBT simply cannot be, but it is also a much more accurate portrayal of the geek life.

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