Title

Religious Rhetoric and Satire: Investigating the Comic and Burlesque Frames Within The Big Bang Theory

Publication Date

8-2015

Abstract

We suggest The Big Bang Theory television program uses satire, comedy, burlesque, and even intertextual references to offer its perspectives on the “geeky” world of brilliant scientists (and their friends), how they cope with popular culture, and religious and spiritual worldviews. More specifically, based on expanded notions of the comic and burlesque frames (Burke, 1961 Burke, K. (1961). The rhetoric of religion: Studies in logology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. [Google Scholar]; Appel, 1996 Appel, E. (1996). Burlesque drama as a rhetorical genre: The hudibrastic ridicule of William F. Buckley, Jr. Western Journal of Communication, 60, 269–284. doi:10.1080/10570319609374547[Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar]) we analyze examples of “religious/spiritual” counter-publics demonstrated in the following characters: Sheldon Cooper, Mary Cooper, Howard Wolowitz, Rajesh Koothrappali, Leonard Hofstader, Penny, Amy Farrah Fowler, and Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz. Applying the Burkean/Appelian notions of the comic frame to a popular culture television show reveals the robust qualities and ever-evolving theoretical applications from rhetoric's rich historical legacy. Rhetorically, The Big Bang Theory presents a mixed but ultimately respectful attitude toward religion and its important role in human development.

Keywords

Big Bang Theory; Television programs

Publication Title

Journal of media and religion

Volume

14

Issue

2

First Page

88

Last Page

101

DOI of Published Version

10.1080/15348423.2015.1051457

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