What the women of Big Bang Theory found in the comics shop

big-bang-theory-girls-in-comic-shop.jpg
We didn’t watch last night’s hilarious “Women go to a comics shop” episode of Big Bang Theory, but Scott Johnson did so we wouldn’t have to, and the results sound quite ghastly:

Meanwhile, the girls finish reading their new comic books, and they agree that comic books are stupid. Bernadette says, “It’s crazy they spend hours arguing about things that don’t even exist.” Then, the girls get in an argument over what the rules are in regards to no one else being able to pick up Thor’s hammer. They decide to read their comic books again to find out.


More wacky hijinks in the link.

Reading the recap, well it’s just a sitcom, but it sounds like a good snapshot of the world circa 1982. And they say this show is pro nerd?

BTW in the above screencap I note that two of the women–the nerdy ones–are wearing their handbags crossbody, a posture normally used when in a position of danger where flight could be necessary. I guess it’s the little touches that add verisimilitude.

Comments

  1. I wish I’d come up with the description of BBT being “a nerd minstrel show” but it’s pretty damn accurate.

  2. Sphinx Magoo says:

    I’d just seen this yesterday and thought it might be appropriate:
    http://sockpuppettheatre.com/video/trolling-101/

  3. Stuart’s (unnamed) comics shop on BBT is more 1992 (or 1999) than 1982, and not that far removed from the majority of comics shops today–the ones that are still almost completely focused on superhero books, the 80% of shops that still don’t order any comics outside of the Diamond Premier publishers. And while the “comics book shops are places no women go” message in the first half of the episode is noxious*, the smooth transition of the group from “what do they see in these?” to hour-long arguments about minor details of concept was a hoot.

    (*Stuart does rise to the occasion, pushing the women towards a smarter, more intelligent, less nerd-o-centric comic, Fables.)

    I’m pretty far down the social outcast nerd continuum–in my Facebook “job history”, I say that I spent 1984-1992 being Comic Book Guy, and I mean it. At its worst, yes, it’s minstrelry. But the enjoyment I get from BBT when it’s good is that it find the balance between the social awkwardness of geek culture and the genuine delight it brings to its practitioners. This episode, more than most, found that balance.

  4. Chris Hero says:

    I don’t normally watch this show, or any TV outside of sports and the Daily Show, but I did watch this last night. I didn’t see anything offensive about it. I felt it was pretty accurate in regards to most of the comic stores I visit – all DC/Marvel superheroes all the time with an older white male customer base. Comic stores in huge cities usually have a diverse clientele, but the average store in, say, Cleveland or St Louis is all a bunch of older white guys buying DC/Marvel books. There aren’t a lot of women customers in those stores.

  5. Charles Knight says:

    ” And they say this show is pro nerd?”

    I’d never seen this show but since it was mentioned a couple of days ago, I checked out a few episodes – it seems to be very clearly in the “laughing at” not “laughing with” – certainly never came across as “pro-nerd”.

  6. I didn’t have a problem with this week’s BBT at all. I always hear people talk about how so-called “Geek Culture” is so much more inclusive and yes, I see tons of more girls/women at various cons. But you know where I still never see them? Comic book stores. In my experience, this episode rang pretty true.

  7. Torsten Adair says:

    Okay… they live near Pasadena (many characters work at CalTech).
    So, if they are hardcore comics readers, wouldn’t they visit the best shop in the area? (Or even drive a bit to Secret Headquarters?)

    So, how stereotypical is Stuart Bloom, the comics shop owner?

  8. “Comic stores in huge cities usually have a diverse clientele, but the average store in, say, Cleveland or St Louis is all a bunch of older white guys buying DC/Marvel books.”

    Not Star Clipper! http://www.starclipper.com

    “So, how stereotypical is Stuart Bloom, the comics shop owner?”

    He’s not the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, if that’s what you’re asking. He’s still very much a comic book nerd, but he tends to find the main cast guys (especially Sheldon) exhausting, and unlike the main cast, he had the confidence to ask out Penny the first time he met her instead of hemming and hawing about it for several weeks/seasons. He’s also a wannabe artist, which I guess is fairly stereotypical.

  9. I thought the episode was pretty funny. At first hated this show but I think once you stop taking it seriously and realize that it is a dumb sitcom it becomes a ton more enjoyable.

    I do kind of agree with what peter says. I think in general, most people say they are nerds (men and women) but they are just posing because it is “in” right now. I’ve talked to people that say they have gone to San Diego Comic Con but have never read a comic book in their life. It makes me mad because I never could get tickets or afford to go to that con but these people who have never picked up a comic book go. I work as a clerk at a donut shop and I always wear video game or comic book shirts and people say things like “nice shirt. I love spider-man, Sonic the hedgehog and etc.” But the moment I try to get in a conversation about it then they look at me like I am crazy or weird (which I probably am). Maybe it is pretending to be kind of nerdy and geeky is whats cool instead of actually being one.

  10. As an “older wehite guy”, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with older white guys buying comics at shops. I never bought into the “hostility toward new/different people” schtick. Comic shops aren’t biker bars … just walk in …

  11. Jackie Estrada says:

    I thought the episode was pretty funny! Only part was about the girls in the comics shop. The rest of the show was about the guys dressing up as ST:NG characters to go to a Bakersfield Comic-Con, which they mined for lots of laughs . . .

  12. You’ve all skipped entirely over the other plotline where the guys have their car stolen while they’re in the middle of the desert dressed in STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION costumes.

    It’s quite clear from the episode that the girls have been in the shop many times before and clearly they and the owner know each other by names. The whole point of the show was that they actually bought comics this time instead of just hanging around waiting. And then they went home and argued about them. Thus proving that comics are addictive. But we all knew that..

    It’s perfectly obvious that the publicity people who put out the original blurb have never actually watched the show.

  13. I particularly liked how the women dissed comics as being stupid (did they even read the FABLES #1 that Stuart recommended? great plug!) and then got sucked in via the silly arguments because, at their heart, comics are fun reading material and do draw (pun intended) the reader in. Before I read comics I never thought of them as silly, rather I viewed them as soap operas and I didn’t want to spend so much money following umpteen characters each month – but once I started buying them for my then-fiancee while he was in the Navy, I couldn’t not read them. I lucked out in that it was the mid-80s and I rode that indie wave for awhile, but I never shied away from superheroes. And I still consider many fight scenes silly and testosterone-targeted but, even so, I find stuff to like in most kinds of comics. Robin remarked that he’d have liked to see a different final scene, in which at least one of the guys blew up because one of the women pulled a mint-in-bag comic out of the bag. :)

  14. Elledee says:

    The episode was very pro comics. As the writer above says, the girls had gone to the shop before, had no problems going to it and wasn’t turned off by it, but had never actually read comics. Like new readers they’re confused and somewhat turned off, but as they discussed the books we watched them actually get involved and have opinions. Stuart’s shop also sells many books other than super-heroes as he asks them what kind of comics they’d like to see, suggests titles better suited for them, but they want to check out the super-hero comics in order to understand what their boy friends are reading. Fairly realistic actually, as was their view of the material without even realizing that they were becoming hooked, too.

  15. kungpow9960 says:

    I thought the episode was pretty pro-comics and pro-”nerd culture” overall. Yes, more women are going to conventions, reading comics, etc. But for a lot of us, our significant others don’t really get our interest in comics and sci-fi, etc. That was what the women characters going into the comic store and then reading a comic book was about: they eventually viewed the book as a story, not just a picture book, even though they did so unconsciously and humorously (“you don’t know Thor’s life!!”)

    I will say that my wife was skeptical about my interest in The Walking Dead comics…until she watched the show. Now, she’s asking me about the comics and how they compare with the show’s plots and characters.

    The other part of the episode was about how weird nerds can feel when other people make fun of us. When the guys are sitting at the table in the diner and Sheldon says something like, “These people are laughing at us and think we’re idiots. I want to go home,” I think we all identify with similar experiences.

    To me, the episode was about how easy it is to make fun of geeks/nerds, but also how great the stories and comics and movies and games we love really are and how easy it is for “non-nerds” to love them as well.

  16. I watched it. I laughed. And yet, I agree. The depiction of women and comics in the show is inaccurate and stereotypical, and as a woman who has visited comics shops since the ’70s (prior to then, I bought my comics at the local drug store) and gone to comicons since the ’70s, I really wish they’d introduce a female character who represents we female nerds/geeks.

  17. Evan Meadow says:

    whoswhoz:

    “It’s perfectly obvious that the publicity people who put out the original blurb have never actually watched the show.”

    No it’s perfectly obvious that the publicity people who put the original blurb up knew exactly what they were doing and trolled the internet because it got us all riled up, more people watched the show, another “most watched episode in BBT history” ever press release, and plenty of us going “Hey, that one wasn’t that bad.”

    They knew EXACTLY what they were doing. The only thing the show needed was a “You Mad?” bumper instead of Chuck Lorre’s latest vanity card.

  18. This may be the first time “hilarious” has been used in regard to an episode of BBT. I find it to be a show written by stupid people imagining what smart people are like.

  19. I enjoy BBT and watch it every week. But I watch it AS A SITCOM, not for some sort of vicarious validation of my “geeky” lifestyle and interests. I watch it because the characters are amusing, the writing is better than most sitcoms, and I enjoy laughing at it (and sometimes with it).

    Now, on to this specific episode: My wife has had this experience MULTIPLE TIMES. She has followed me into a shop and felt all eyes turn to her with a mixture of fear, lust and confusion. She’s told me — more than once — that she’s more uncomfortable there than she is walking into an adult bookstore with me (back before everything was online, so we never bother going to those anymore).

    She’s also said that walking into one ALONE is even more weird, and that every time she’s done so, some guy rushes out from behind the counter to quickly offer to help her find whatever gift she’s shopping for because, each and every time that a woman walks in and gets that confused look on her face, she’s there to shop for a hubby, boyfriend or kid.

    ——————————-

    BTW: My wife took the writers to task for one of the line’s from Stuart (the shop owner). When he said, “I swear to god I will turn a hose on you!” my wife said, “That’s stupid… there’s no way he’d ever risk putting water near those comics!”

    Ahhhhh, I’m blessed with a tolerant wife, lads.

    And as for the rest of you who don’t like this, let me ask you a VERY important question: If you don’t like BBT, can you name a MODERN sitcom that you do like? In my experience, the people who really don’t like BBT really don’t like ANY sitcoms at all. Oh, they have a few they watched when they were younger, but couldn’t name a single one made in the last 10 years that they watched with any regularity. It’s not that sitcoms now are worse than they used to be, it’s mostly that people grow up and their tastes change away from silly entertainment like sitcoms.

  20. BTW: On another note, I really thought that Stuart should have suggested a graphic novel compilation of issues for them — you know, a collected story arc rather than single issues.

  21. “If you don’t like BBT, can you name a MODERN sitcom that you do like? In my experience, the people who really don’t like BBT really don’t like ANY sitcoms at all. Oh, they have a few they watched when they were younger, but couldn’t name a single one made in the last 10 years that they watched with any regularity. ”

    I find the opposite: most people I know who hate BBT hate it because it’s TOTALLY an ’80s sitcom, whereas they prefer more modern, single camera sitcoms like 30 Rock, The Office, Community, etc.

  22. Randy says:

    I think people have already commented on this in the thread sufficiently to douse the flames of righteous rage, but I also think it’s worth noting that we, as a community, are probably no different than any other community targeted by sitcoms — gays, divorcees, adoptees, multi-racial couples, soup Nazis, disabled people of any sort, people with depression or disorders or addictions, etc. etc. — some of us will accept the poke in good fun as just that, and some of us can’t take a joke because it’s not funny to us. Everyone’s got their own opinions, and that’s okay.

    It’s also worth raising the contentious point about women walking into a comic shop get ogled by the male populous, as the same thing happens at a singles bar or supermarket or sporting goods store. (Most) men are dogs. (Most) men know it. Some women are dogs too, and ogle men. I suspect some of them know that too…

  23. David Serchay says:

    Let’s face it though, some of the women’s arguments about Thor’s hammer wasn’t too different than some of the stuff discussed in the comments here:

    http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/01/05/drawing-crazy-patterns-other-characters-lifting-thors-hammer/

    Both even mentioned outer space

  24. The first four seasons of BBT were great. With Season 5 and 6 they turned into a regular sitcom, much less intelligent than the previous seasons (probably why it’s now the most popular sitcom)

    Yes, it did poke fun at the nerd culture, but at the same time, you do feel that they were on “our” side. They also make fun of a lot of other things, but this is a show about very intelligent nerds, so it’s only natural that this was the focus. There were a ton of references to things that weren’t exactly mainstream geek culture as well.

    In the first couple of seasons they would let their characters ramble on about Superman and Kryptonian skin cells, Joe Chill’s role in the post Zero Hour version of Batman and about the continuity of Clone Wars. Not to mention all the (correct) science they were talking about. It’s a miracle that the show became as popular is it did become. Now the show has turned into a soap about weddings, bridesmaids and an unbelievable boring storyline about Howards marriage. *sigh*

  25. I’d go a little further than the poster who said that the episode proves that “comics are addictive.”

    My take-away is that, even allowing for the humorous intent of the show, “stories are addictive” to anyone who allows him/herself to invest in the story’s basic “givens.” A reader who’s determined not to enter into the “Game of Thor” and its rules will always find debates about Thor’s hammer to be stupid. To the reader who becomes invested, though, the rules become an important part of the narrative, and have to be taken on their own internal logic.

  26. Stephen Schumacher says:

    I agree with Hogne’s comments except about the show falling off a cliff since Season 5 and no longer featuring nerd ramblings. The latest show’s climax is a discussion about Red Hulk of all things! (“Red Hulk picked up Thor with his hammer.” “So Red Hulk is worthy.” “How could Red Hulk be worthy?” “You don’t know his life!”) I doubt that 0.5% of the show’s audience has ever heard of Red Hulk, but they can glean the gist and get the point. BBT has so many in-jokes and visual shout-outs that (as Hogne says) I gotta believe the show’s writers are “one of us” and on “our” side. They’re also pretty savvy about Asperger’s syndrome. I think the “I-don’t-watch-it-but-I-don’t-like-it” antipathy toward BBT here is pretty off-base.

  27. @Stephen: You’re right. When I wrote that I still hadn’t watched the BBT episode in question. I was answering on a general basis. Actually, when the comments about Red Hulk were made I felt a twinge of hope for the show again. In fact, this episode wasn’t half bad. And boy did Sheldon look good as Data.

  28. Alexandra says:

    “…Now, on to this specific episode: My wife has had this experience MULTIPLE TIMES. She has followed me into a shop and felt all eyes turn to her with a mixture of fear, lust and confusion. She’s told me — more than once — that she’s more uncomfortable there than she is walking into an adult bookstore with me (back before everything was online, so we never bother going to those anymore).

    “She’s also said that walking into one ALONE is even more weird, and that every time she’s done so, some guy rushes out from behind the counter to quickly offer to help her find whatever gift she’s shopping for because, each and every time that a woman walks in and gets that confused look on her face, she’s there to shop for a hubby, boyfriend or kid…”

    Indeed.

    Also, it’s *not* anti-comics prejudice to acknowledge that some comic book readers can be prejudiced!

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