There we said it. Much adored it may be, but The Big Bang Theory is racist, to the point of reawakening some of the older colonial ghosts, and the day they get through a season without calling us an uncouth lot is the day they can boast about their Indian connection.
In an industry where sitcoms are worth a dime a dozen, The Big Bang Theory sits prettily at the top of the food chart, with a cushy fan base of six million loyally tuning in every week. And though the Indian populace has done its fair bit to contribute to that number, TBBT’s idea of endearing itself to the Indian masses is by regularly reinforcing just how backward India, as a country, is.
That probably wasn't easy to read, but it had to be said. Casting an Indian in a lead role in a sitcom is the kind of stuff that myths are made of, so when Kunal Nayyar landed the role of a geeky scientist in Big Bang Theory, we whooped, we danced and we sobered up just as quickly once we got an earful of the racist wisecracks thrown his way.
Bear in mind that we have nothing against the show, and that there doesn't exist a single sitcom fan worth his salt who hasn't giggled at Sheldon's social ineptness at least once. And though these characters are the first to poke fun at themselves, there come those times when funny pushes its boundaries to step into pure crass territory. You don't have to take our word on it; we hunted down five of the most racist barbs that are gift wrapped and passed off as funny:
1. Sheldon: Because in our little group I am the smart one, Wolowitz is the funny one, and Koothrappali is the foreigner who tries to understand our culture and fails.
No matter how successful you get, Indians are always the outsiders, the also-rans. Then again, this might just be Sheldon's superiority complex speaking so maybe we can let this one pass.
2. Raj: I don't want to go back to India! It's hot, and it's loud, and there are so many people! You have no idea -- they're everywhere.
And here we have it! The man himself admitting the many hardships India has inflicted on him by not being spacious enough for his standards.
3. Amy: Do you know the story of Catherine the Great?
Amy: She ruled Russia in the 1700’s and one night when she was feeling particularly randy she used an intricate system of pulleys to have intimate relations with a horse.
Penny: I’m sorry, what does this have to do with me?
Amy: She engaged in inter-species hanky panky and people still call her great. I’m sure your reputation can survive you shagging a little Indian boy.
So now we have sleeping with Indian men being compared to bestiality. Does this get any worse?
4. Raj: As your friend, you might want to know that we didn’t have sex in the conventional sense.
Penny: Oh God, did you pull some weird Indian crap on me?
Apparently, it does. Raj may be the stereotypical brown guy with an exotic accent, crippled by his inability to speak to women and trying to escape the arranged marriages foisted on him by his bossy parents, but thou haven't witnessed the worst yet:
5. Leonard: I think it upsets Sheldon when you play with the food.
Sheldon: No. It upsets Sheldon when she willy-nilly takes it from the containers without regard for its equitable distribution. Raj, this is essentially why you have famine in India.
Sheldon may be God's gift to mankind, but stereotypical, much?
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