Back to the Future and the Revenge of the Nerds showed us that nice guys can finish first and eventually employ not-so-nice guys to wash their cars. Well, the wet sponge has hit the bucket, because it’s official: brains trump brawn, as echoed in popular geek TV shows The Big Bang Theory and Silicon Valley.
The fast-paced and witty The Big Bang Theory is from the “King of Sitcoms” Chuck Lorre, who brought us Dharma & Greg, Mike & Molly and Two and a Half Men.
Based on the misadventures of four nerdy scientist friends and the aspiring-actress-next-door, we get a fly-on-the-wall perspective of their lives in Pasadena. The Big Bang Theory is obsessed with geek culture, scientific knowledge and mustering up the courage to *gulp*… speak to girls.
With Judge’s offbeat sense of humour and cult mood, the comedy focusses on a band of coders trying to make it big on the back of a groundbreaking compression tool in the fast and cutthroat Californian technopreneur empire.
Both shows deal with the trials and tribulations of geeks in a campus type environment with a strong focus on their professional ambition and sexual conquest. And they both have an Asian guy, a bumbling kingpin, a robotic oracle, a perverted jester and a cute girl-next-door! They even share an actor in Josh Brener, who played Dale, the comic book store stand-in for The Big Bang Theory and “Big Head” in Silicon Valley.
Similar shows: Friends vs Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Big Bang Theory is more in line with that other Warner fan favourite Friends, revolving around the gang’s interpersonal squabbles, filmed at fixed scenarios, in front of a live studio audience with a laugh track and a 20-minute run time at 24-25 episodes per season.
Merits: Edgy art vs zippy laughs
While Silicon Valley has more artistic merit, stoner grit and is better at geek paradise-building, The Big Bang Theory is funnier and more lovable, revelling in superheroes, Star Trek and geek pop culture.
Silicon Valley is edgier, injecting crass language and cringe-worthy comedy to create a hellish microcosm much like The Simpsons, while The Big Bang Theory is formulaic and geared towards zippy laughs, zingers and “bazingas”.
Star power: Jim Parsons vs Thomas Middleditch
When it comes to star power, Jim Parsons is in his element as the socially-challenged and intolerant genius Sheldon with four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. A figurehead for The Big Bang Theory, he’s quite literally head and shoulders above the rest. Then, Simon Helberg is hilarious as the multi-talented, spindly and perverted Howard Wolowitz.
In Silicon Valley‘s corner is the perfectly cast frontman Thomas Middleditch, who shares the responsibility with TJ Miller as the dirty, intrepid leech Erlich, with versatile stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh.
It’s a close call on IMDB, but with a higher critics rating and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Silicon Valley takes it!
The Big Bang Theory:
IMDB rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 81%
IMDB rating: 8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95%
And, finally, if they had to go head-to-head Anchorman street-fight style… Silicon Valley would win, but if it were a popularity contest… it’s The Big Bang Theory all the way!