Sheldon Cooper. Aspie, or offensive parody?

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riley
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23 Sep 2014, 8:59 am

pensieve wrote:
Are you guys blind? His friends rip on him any chance they get. They're sarcastic and don't hold their anger back on him, even though he has no idea why they would feel that way. It's just a reminder of what life is really like between me and NT's. And what about Penny? She's always like 'how can Sheldon be like that?'

While I love Sheldon I hate the way some of the characters treat him.

My friend who thinks the shows is deliberately mean to nerds would understand how I feel about it. I couldn't see how they were just making fun of nerds but I did once she explained it to me and hopefully she did when I explained to her about how they made an Asperger's character they were purposely mean to. If Sheldon was diagnosed they wouldn't make fun of him any more and it wouldn't be funny, because once Gerry from Boston legal was diagnosed his quirks were turned into symptoms and were no longer funny.

The whole show is an offensive parody.


The other characters are hardly NT except for Penny and she hasn't always been treated with respect anyway with the whole "dumb blonde" stigma.



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23 Sep 2014, 10:44 am

metaspie wrote:
My apologies if I'm coming across angrily or anything like that. Obviously communication isn't exactly my most innate skill, and that was not my intention.

I agree we should be able to laugh at ourselves. And I think others should be able to laugh at us and we should be able to laugh at others for things that any of us actually do that are actually funny. I think a full-on can't-breathe kind of laughing is the absolute greatest thing that happens to us in our lives, and that we can never do enough of it.

But I think that Sheldon's 'Sheldoniness' is trumped up to be more Aspie than it really is. Many of his behaviors are simply the kind of selfish as you'd expect from a psychopath, which is different to Asperger's because Aspies usually do feel and express regret if and when they realize that they have been inconsiderate of others. Psychopaths on the other hand know that they are being inconsiderate of others with no remorse at all, which often happens with Sheldon's character.

It is the fact that Sheldon's 'Sheldoniness' is purposely conflated with symptoms of Asperger's without rounding out WHY the character behaves why he does (e.g. the writers mean for him to be Aspie but are bad at writing it) that irks me.

I'm not saying the show should be yanked from the air (at least not for this) or that Aspies should be offended that the character exists.

Much to the contrary, I'm saying that if a true Aspie played the part it would have been a truer and funnier portrayal. Or the writers and Mr. Parsons might portray Asperger's in a truer and funnier way if they acknowledged from the beginning that it is obviously what they are attempting with that character and maybe consult with true Aspies during writing and filming.

My point with Tyler Perry was that it is people who know African-American culture that make truer and funnier portrayals of African-Americans, which African-Americans find funny for the African-Americanness it contains.

That is what I would have liked to see with this show as well, but alas I find a weak and sometimes quite morally objectional depiction of a condition that the writers and actor apparently don't understand well and therefore portray quite inorganically, while at the same time denying that it is the condition that they are so obviously stereotyping.

It's not that Sheldon couldn't be a great, funny, and more importantly true representation of Aspies in our mass-media that could help bridge the divide with NTs who would otherwise be at best indifferent and often much worse to the Aspies.

It's that he purposely isn't even though he could have been.


S'alright! 8) Communications isn't my strong suit, either.
I agree, Sheldon's Aspie characteristics are definitely exaggerated for the sake of humor, otherwise it would hardly be apparent. If for whatever reason I reveal to someone I've just met that I have Asperger's, the response usually is that they wouldn't have know it.


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23 Sep 2014, 10:47 am

riley wrote:
pensieve wrote:
Are you guys blind? His friends rip on him any chance they get. They're sarcastic and don't hold their anger back on him, even though he has no idea why they would feel that way. It's just a reminder of what life is really like between me and NT's. And what about Penny? She's always like 'how can Sheldon be like that?'

While I love Sheldon I hate the way some of the characters treat him.

My friend who thinks the shows is deliberately mean to nerds would understand how I feel about it. I couldn't see how they were just making fun of nerds but I did once she explained it to me and hopefully she did when I explained to her about how they made an Asperger's character they were purposely mean to. If Sheldon was diagnosed they wouldn't make fun of him any more and it wouldn't be funny, because once Gerry from Boston legal was diagnosed his quirks were turned into symptoms and were no longer funny.

The whole show is an offensive parody.


The other characters are hardly NT except for Penny and she hasn't always been treated with respect anyway with the whole "dumb blonde" stigma.


The first time I watched the show a few years ago with the second season, I had assumed all the male characters were Aspies, with Sheldon being the most extreme on the spectrum.


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24 Sep 2014, 1:05 pm

My first impression was also that all the guys were aspies, with Sheldon being more severe. But I don't think so anymore, having watched more of the show. Raj, Howard and Leonard are just nerds, not aspies.


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24 Sep 2014, 1:28 pm

Skilpadde wrote:
My first impression was also that all the guys were aspies, with Sheldon being more severe. But I don't think so anymore, having watched more of the show. Raj, Howard and Leonard are just nerds, not aspies.


Though Raj would become mute when in the presence of the opposite sex, and would have to have Howard speak for him, as he muttered questions to Howard with downcast eyes - unless he was drunk. Sounds at least a bit Aspieish to me. They've of course had him overcome that debilitating shyness, which might be s sign of him compensating for his high functioning autism, or possibly because the writers thought the gag was wearing thin, or just out of laziness on their part.


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24 Sep 2014, 10:55 pm

Those with historical knowledge of Hollywood might remember the concept of comical genius-nerds in Big-Bang is a 21st century TV rendition of the 80s movies "Revenge of the Nerds" but fast forwarded to move from when they were nerds in the school physics club to becoming Caltech and MIT professors.

Revenge of the Nerds was a gratuitous parody of young intellectuals caricatured with tight uncool clothes, buck teeth and braces. In Big Bang aside from Sheldon, the other three big bang nerds are relatively successful but just unlucky in love (except in later series when Leonard snares Penny). Sheldon seems happy with his life with or without female company but ends up with Amy from Caltech.

I asked a group of people I know (as a type of informal survey) if they associated any of the characters as Aspies. It's curious not one thought so. And come to think of it neither do I. I think this is just an exercise in confirmation bias, if you search these characters hard enough you will find odd behaviors that may resonate and the high intelligence bit is just an example of guilty by association not causation.

Raj and Howard come across as NT-geeks. Sheldon is an extreme OCD type. Leornard is probably the most NT of the four.



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25 Sep 2014, 7:42 am

I have never watched this show, nor has it ever looked the slightest bit interesting to me, but I've just watched a "best of Sheldon" video on YT as a crash course. And...

So far I'm just seeing an eccentric science and comics buff. Where does the Aspie part come in? There are some surface differences but basically he talks and behaves like any old sitcom character. Do they actually refer to him as an Aspie? :? He's sort of an interesting character but I don't relate to him all that much.

These clips also remind me why I don't watch any current sitcoms: for lack of a better phrase, everyone is acting too hard, to the point that it's painfully obvious they are just actors who are standing around trying to out-quirk each other. It sets my teeth on edge.


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25 Sep 2014, 10:48 am

I've only recently started watching that show but I have to say Sheldon Cooper acts EXACTLY like I did as a teenager/young adult. It's almost scary how similar he is to my younger self, even down to the hair! Only difference is that I wouldn't have such a large group of friends wanting to hang around me.



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25 Sep 2014, 7:46 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:
Skilpadde wrote:
My first impression was also that all the guys were aspies, with Sheldon being more severe. But I don't think so anymore, having watched more of the show. Raj, Howard and Leonard are just nerds, not aspies.


Though Raj would become mute when in the presence of the opposite sex, and would have to have Howard speak for him, as he muttered questions to Howard with downcast eyes - unless he was drunk. Sounds at least a bit Aspieish to me. They've of course had him overcome that debilitating shyness, which might be s sign of him compensating for his high functioning autism, or possibly because the writers thought the gag was wearing thin, or just out of laziness on their part.

Raj suffers from extreme shyness, which has nothing to do with AS. Some aspies are shy, as are some NTs and a few in either group suffer debilitating shyness. I went to mainstream school, and in my junior high class I had two classmates who were really shy. One of them blushed if people looked at him and had a real hard time talking in class. Shyness is not something that is specific for AS, and a lot of us aren't shy.
The way Raj has Howard talk for him in the presence of women comes off as infantile; it's how a shy child might behave and have his mother or other trusted person speak for him. It doesn't seem aspieish to me.


Quote:
Where does the Aspie part come in?

Just what comes to mind right now:

Sheldon has some stereotypical AS traits:

He hates having his routines disrupted in any way.
He doesn?t get sarcasm, and he can?t read expressions or body language.
He doesn?t know what is socially appropriate.
He holds monologues to his surroundings and can?t tell that people are bored and uninterested.

In one episode he said: ?You may not realize it but I have difficulties navigating certain aspects of real life. Not understanding sarcasm, feigning interest in others, not talking about trains as much as I want to. It?s exhausting! Which is why for twenty minutes a day, I had to go down to that room, turn my mind off and do what I need to do to recharge.?

In another episode he asks Penny if she and Leonard is friends with benefits, then proceeds to ask her if she is able to have sex with men without developing an emotional attachment.
Quote:
Penny: Sheldon, I really don?t want to talk about this with you.
Sheldon: Is this conversation making you uncomfortable?
Penny: Of course it?s making me uncomfortable, can?t you tell?
Sheldon: I really have no idea. I don?t particularly excel at reading facial expressions, body language?
Penny: I?m uncomfortable, Sheldon!
Sheldon: Thank you, that?s very helpful.


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26 Sep 2014, 4:30 am

Evil_Chuck wrote:
I have never watched this show, nor has it ever looked the slightest bit interesting to me, but I've just watched a "best of Sheldon" video on YT as a crash course. And...

So far I'm just seeing an eccentric science and comics buff. Where does the Aspie part come in? There are some surface differences but basically he talks and behaves like any old sitcom character. Do they actually refer to him as an Aspie? .


It's implied on the show that he's undiagnosed. There's a recurring joke of "I'm not crazy, my mother got me tested" and later on in the series, his mother explains that after she "got him tested" the doctors suggested a further assessment which she decided not to take him to.

Sheldon does have some aspie traits, but they're not nearly as consistent as his obnoxiousness. Occasionally, they give him sensory issues, but those go away in episodes where they're not needed. Whereas he's always stubborn and refuses to ever cooperate with anyone about anything. It's like the writers can't tell the difference between disliking change and being an arsehole.

I actually think out of all the characters, Bernadette comes across as more aspie/autistic than the others. She really geeks out over her job, she isn't completely socially able (she often misunderstands Penny's jokes), but she puts in a lot of effort to get along with everyone anyway. She seems more like someone who might have been undiagnosed and grown up passing as NT.



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26 Sep 2014, 9:37 am

Tiffany_Aching wrote:
Evil_Chuck wrote:
I have never watched this show, nor has it ever looked the slightest bit interesting to me, but I've just watched a "best of Sheldon" video on YT as a crash course. And...

So far I'm just seeing an eccentric science and comics buff. Where does the Aspie part come in? There are some surface differences but basically he talks and behaves like any old sitcom character. Do they actually refer to him as an Aspie? .


It's implied on the show that he's undiagnosed. There's a recurring joke of "I'm not crazy, my mother got me tested" and later on in the series, his mother explains that after she "got him tested" the doctors suggested a further assessment which she decided not to take him to.

Sheldon does have some aspie traits, but they're not nearly as consistent as his obnoxiousness. Occasionally, they give him sensory issues, but those go away in episodes where they're not needed. Whereas he's always stubborn and refuses to ever cooperate with anyone about anything. It's like the writers can't tell the difference between disliking change and being an arsehole.

I actually think out of all the characters, Bernadette comes across as more aspie/autistic than the others. She really geeks out over her job, she isn't completely socially able (she often misunderstands Penny's jokes), but she puts in a lot of effort to get along with everyone anyway. She seems more like someone who might have been undiagnosed and grown up passing as NT.


And don't forget Amy, who had started off as just a female Sheldon, but who has since become fleshed out as her own character who in many ways is more socialized that Sheldon.


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26 Sep 2014, 4:51 pm

I'm not forgetting Amy, but I'm hesitant to call her autistic precisely because she's written as the "female Sheldon". She suffers from a lot of the same stereotyping Sheldon does.

When I say Bernadette comes across as the most autistic, I mean it's the most accurate portrayal, even if it's accidental.



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26 Sep 2014, 5:21 pm

Skilpadde wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:
Skilpadde wrote:
My first impression was also that all the guys were aspies, with Sheldon being more severe. But I don't think so anymore, having watched more of the show. Raj, Howard and Leonard are just nerds, not aspies.


Though Raj would become mute when in the presence of the opposite sex, and would have to have Howard speak for him, as he muttered questions to Howard with downcast eyes - unless he was drunk. Sounds at least a bit Aspieish to me. They've of course had him overcome that debilitating shyness, which might be s sign of him compensating for his high functioning autism, or possibly because the writers thought the gag was wearing thin, or just out of laziness on their part.

Raj suffers from extreme shyness, which has nothing to do with AS. Some aspies are shy, as are some NTs and a few in either group suffer debilitating shyness. I went to mainstream school, and in my junior high class I had two classmates who were really shy. One of them blushed if people looked at him and had a real hard time talking in class. Shyness is not something that is specific for AS, and a lot of us aren't shy.
The way Raj has Howard talk for him in the presence of women comes off as infantile; it's how a shy child might behave and have his mother or other trusted person speak for him. It doesn't seem aspieish to me.


There is some cross over between selective muteness and ASD as they get sensory overload. SM is a very real thing and I am glad that they wrote a character in with it however they've kept it as a running joke and it's losing it's appeal. It can go hand in hand with autism sometimes, and the gf that kept taking off when she felt overwhelmed I think is more autistic than just shy as just sending a meal back was way too much for her to process and overwhelming.

Sheldon, despite some symptoms being exaggerated is endearing and while some may have a problem with how he's represented on the whole I think he has given the "NT" audience (NT as in just normal) some understanding which can only be a good thing and shows that there are ways to connect with people who are different.



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27 Sep 2014, 9:13 pm

riley wrote:
Sheldon, despite some symptoms being exaggerated is endearing and while some may have a problem with how he's represented on the whole I think he has given the "NT" audience (NT as in just normal) some understanding which can only be a good thing and shows that there are ways to connect with people who are different.


This is one positive about the show...I guess the more you try and make drama or comedy fit real world fidelity the entertainment value starts to wear thin.



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29 Sep 2014, 12:07 pm

Jumping in here. I have seen every episode of Big Bang and love the show. I personally didn't catch the AS undertones as much at the start of the series, but as it goes on they have some really emotional moment related to AS-like issues. For instance at the end of last season when (spoiler ahead) Penny and Leonard get engaged and several other things are going on as well, Sheldon has a moment of explaining why the changes are hard and that he just needs to go away for a while. Leonard wants to protect him to some degree and Penny encourages Sheldon to go because it is what he needs.

Honestly the social dynamics of the group are really complex behind the comedy. Very endearing under all the laughs.

As a side note, my father (who is very AS-ish himself) worked as an engineer for years in aerospace. He said that the relationships and conversations in that "nerdy" environment were very similar to the show. He said a lot of the engineers were of the same personality type as the men on the show. So at least in that respect it seems true to life.