I am a huge fan of the CBS sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (TBBT) produced and written by Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre. It is now in its 6th year, and enjoying humongous ratings, beating the venerable ‘American Idol’ (AI). In my opinion, that is such a GREAT turn of events. When you think about the premises of both TBBT and AI, they break down to how success and achievement is awarded in the US.
For example, the AI method is that you can achieve great success by getting a lucky break (through auditioning of course, and perceived talent). AI celebrates talent based on the contestants ability to sing and entertain, and TBBT posits that career success comes from studying, learning and academic achievement.
The “big prize” the characters are after on TBBT is a Nobel Prize and the prize the contestants are chasing on AI are record deals, money and fame. It is no doubt much harder to achieve a Nobel Prize; celebrity and fame are fairly easy to obtain, (Snooki, for example) and talent is not necessarily a requirement. Since both of these shows are watched by millions of young Americans, (demographically desirable 18-34 year olds) I believe that the better message to impart on youth is one of academic achievement and education. (I do believe that music and the arts are also an essential part of education and life; I just am not sure a TV show/singing contest is the best way to achieve a career in the arts).
Note that TBBT character (Penny) is an actress, or trying to be one, and is always low on cash and struggling with her career choice. Singing, acting and writing are REALLY tough careers. The competition (as shown in AI auditions) is huge! It is far better to make career decisions based on reality: mechanical engineers will always be in demand, but another singer or actor? Not so much.
Why TBBT is good for young Americans is because the writers have made being smart accessible, desirable and really funny. They have made science, astronomy, mechanical engineering, neuro and micro biology normal, everyday occupations. And, trust me on this, America needs its young people to get excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs (and space exploration). American students regularly score poorly in worldwide measures of science and math. As a society, the US needs far more scientists and mathematicians than celebrities or singers.
That’s all I’m saying. Making science cool is so very hard to accomplish, and the talented writers and actors (see, I do like actors!) have really done an amazing job. Johhny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Kevin Sussman, and Kaley Cuoco are talented and deserving of all the accolades and awards they receive. And they’ll also be the first ones to tell you how “lucky” they are!
Need a career assessment to find your way to a fulfilling career in the sciences? Or music? Email your story to Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com for a complimentary career session!