In this chapter of the book Normalizing Mental Illness and Neurodiversity in Entertainment Media: Quieting the Madness, the author analyzes how two sitcoms — Community and The Big Bang Theory — have influenced their audiences’ perspectives toward Asperger Syndrome.
Benson Rajan, Assistant Professor, Jindal School of Journalism & Communication, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
This chapter considers how the sitcoms Community and The Big Bang Theory depict the condition of Asperger Syndrome. With great potential for raising awareness and providing or portraying the condition accurately, both sitcoms have a large fan base – Community with its passionate cult following and The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) with its all-ages comedy and 23.4 million watchers.
In this chapter, the author analyzes how these two sitcoms have influenced their audiences’ perspectives toward Asperger Syndrome.
The author utilizes thematic analysis to explore the extent to which the shows accurately portray Asperger’s Syndrome and communicate the disorder to their audiences. The author observes that the shows seem to focus less on the disorder and more on using the behavioral deficits that Asperger’s Syndrome entails to generate humor.
The inconsistencies and unexplained changes in behavioral patterns of the characters of Sheldon Cooper and Abed Nadir can lead to misapprehensions pertaining to the disorder. Nevertheless, the subtle representation of Asperger’s Syndrome in TBBT and Community was not concealed therefore, it should be acknowledged as contributing to awareness about Asperger’s Syndrome and increased discussion of how to develop more accurate and consistent representations of the disorder.
Published in: M. Johnson and C. J. Olson (Eds.), Normalizing Mental Illness and Neurodiversity in Entertainment Media: Quieting the Madness (pp. 66-82). Routledge.
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