WTF Emmys? Why picking Big Bang over Parks and Rec is madness
Words: Rebecca Vacroe
If you don't know me well and want to understand me, you should know that The Big Bang Theory's Emmy nomination for a best comedy and Parks and Recreation's lack there of this year is something that makes me have a lot of feelings. It sums up my capacity for hyperbole, my love of awards shows and Amy Poehler, and my ability to feel very, very passionately about things that are of very, very little consequence.
It has previously explained by others why Big Bang is a boring turd in the floral landscape of a Chuck Lorre nightmare so why on earth does it continue to garner the praise and popularity of critics and fans? I hypothesize that it has something, if not everything, to do with Sheldon Cooper, because my fragile psyche cannot handle the notion that it could be anything to do with any of the other stale and misogynistic characters spouting jokes about nerds that wouldn't have been funny if they were told in the fifties.
Help my catharsis. Let’s explore together the myriad of reasons why this latest snub is an atrocity.
Awards are supposedly given on the merit of the performance of the relevant role. In this case that means the stars of Parks and Rec would have been awarded based on their characters in the show rather than their other projects or previous characters they've played, no matter how much we loved them. In 2011, Melissa McCarthy won her Emmy for Mike and Molly, beating out the likes of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Edie Falco, and we all know that there is no way that had anything to do with her turn in Bridesmaids. Mike and Molly is totally forgettable, but in Bridesmaids and indeed in her guest appearance on SNL McCarthy was amazing and reminded us all why we loved her, because we'd totally forgotten. Because of Mike and Molly. Because it's forgettable, remember.
The cast of Big Bang Theory have little to offer outside the show. This wouldn't be a problem if their performances were strong to begin with, but as far as career making goes, I find it a shame that this "will do". Boasting a cast of SNL alumni, independently successful stand up comedians, fantastic tweeters, and Aubrey Plaza, how these performers are bested by a guy who can't talk to women unless he's drunk makes me feel like this:
Helpful versions of reality
If you watched a lot of Dawson’s Creek, you'll remember Dawson was always talking about film (I'm extrapolating his logic to TV here) and its relation to reality. While it does remove us from “reality”, providing escapism and fantasy, audiences connect well with relatable on-screen scenarios. So much of GIRLS’ popularity was attributed to its resonance with its target audience. It was also the reason why it made me want to punch everyone in the face, and why Big Bang solicits the same reaction from me. Jokes work by triggering new connections in our brain to make us laugh, which is why surrealistic and outlandish comedies often work, too. I've never worked in a public office or had dog poo flung at me by children in a field but I can appreciate why that's funny when it happens to Leslie Knope.
I suppose similar situations arise in Big Bang – such as the revenge foam prank gone wrong – but the aspect of mirroring human experience is hollow in Big Bang. So often when watching Parks and Rec I've verged on tears.
As far as Big Bang goes, though, not even nerds want to relate to Big Bang. It's a dated parody of an “nichey” experience, appealing to a jock mentality. As the author says "You find the nerds’ awkwardness funny because you can side with Penny’s normalness". Not every show needs to present an accurate, or in the case of Parks and Rec, hopeful or uplifting, presentation of society, but to reward a show that is lacking authenticity at the expense of one whose essence is so legitimate seems like a GIANT ERROR OF JUDGEMENT. (Hyperbole, I warned you.)
Ability to Empathise with Characters
It’s hard to follow a show for sustained period of time if you never connect to any characters – even on a base level. The Office held me with my love of Jim, my investment in the future of Michael Scott and even the awful Kelly Kapoor. Breaking Bad’s last few seasons have seen me bubbling with hate, but its hooks are in and I'm invested enough to want to see what happens to Walt, even if he makes me want to break things.
I care 0% about any of the characters on Big Bang. I don't care if that skivvy wearing one comes back from space, I don't care about Penny’s acting aspirations and I certainly have no investment in Leonard who is like, what, the most pathetic and boring lead of a TV show of all time?
Conversely, Parks and Recreation presents us with multifaceted characters. Everyone hates Gerry but when Gerry retires, you kinda wanna cry, right? April is really mean and Anne can be annoying, but the portrayal by the actors paired with spot on writing renders them with enough humanity that you want to be every single person’s friend. Except Jeremy Jamm. No one likes that Jeremy Jamm.
Having a feminist agenda is sadly not a pre-requisite for good television. If I had my way, it would be, and the way television depicts women is often gross at best.
And look, I like listening to rap music, watching WWE, and Breaking Bad, which has awful women in it when there are women at all. But Big Bang feeds into some of the most simplistic and inherently harmful ideas about women.
Tapping into the undercurrent that women are objects that exist purely for a man’s attention and enjoyment is deplorable – not to mention boring and unfunny. Parks and Recreation treats all its characters – especially its women – with humanity and respect, giving us careers to aspire to if that's what we want (Leslie) or teaching us there's no issue in overtly hating work (April).
I am not using hyperbole when I say that Parks and Recreation is one of the best comedies of all time, and Big Bang is one of the worst shows ever to have existed in the history of the universe – 'in a hot dense state'.