Did you hear the one about the Jew, the Hindu, the Christian and the . . . indeterminate . . . who went into a bar?
The punch line is The Big Bang Theory. If you haven’t discovered this half hour of brilliant writing and acting yet, please schedule it into your life.
With a title like The Big Bang Theory, it’s obvious that the developers of this show appreciate science and how it enriches our lives. They bring us highly educated main characters who make their livings in the fields of physics and engineering. But they also bring us religion, too, and somehow they manage to balance the two without offending and with wicked humour.
The characters (like most of us) navigate through life using guidance systems granted to them by their parents—a Jew, a Hindu, a Christian and an . . . indeterminate. The characters (like most of us) try to balance that which was given to them by their parents with that which came to them through education and personal experience. When the two ideas conflict, the resulting tension leads to humour.
I believe the show is so popular because almost all of us can identify with that tension. Almost all of us question the stories and the histories of our parents. And yet, those stories and histories remain an indelible aspect of our characters. We can fight against that history, or we can accept it and laugh.
The writers of The Big Bang Theory acknowledge science in all its wonder. They also acknowledge that, whether we like it or not, we all have stories and histories, too, and we’re richer for it.