One of the things I like best in a TV show is smart writing, and one of the shows out there with that characteristic is the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the show, it centers on the interaction of four researchers at a university who meet every stereotype of the classic nerd. The nerdiest of them all is an astrophysicist named Sheldon Cooper, well played by a talented actor named Jim Parsons.
It's not the most high-brow show in the world; in fact, a disappointingly large proportion of episode plot lines and within-the-show jokes resort to the "nerds-never-get-laid" cliche. (Even the show's title plays off that theme, of course.) I'm no prude and the jokes don't offend or bother me. I'd just like to see the writers reach beyond them more often than they do. They're surely capable of it, as last Thursday's episode illustrated with some of the funniest lines I've heard on TV in a while.
The storyline begins with university president "inviting" the four compadres -- more of an ultimatum to attend than an invitation, really -- to a reception with major donors. Sheldon initially refuses to go, feeling it is beneath him.
He changes his mind when a friend persuades him that unless he's there to argue for donations to support the work of hard science, the money might go to the geology department -- whom Sheldon disparages as "the dirt people." He admits the prospect scares him.
Then prepare to be terrified, his friend continues, because the benefactors might even decide to support -- gasp! -- the liberal arts. Millions, she implies, could go to poets, literary critics and "students of gender studies." I was already laughing at that as she said it.
Sheldon's horrified reply: "Oh, the humanities!"
I laughed harder than I have in a long time at a TV show. Good job, Big Bang writers. More smart stuff like that and fewer cheap sex jokes and I'll like your work even more.