Geek culture has reached a tipping point – becoming a part of mainstream culture such that sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory exist in a world next to medical dramas and procedural crime shows. But Big Bang is far from the first sitcom with geeky inclinations. Check out these classic sitcoms which combined some fantastically geeky references with a laugh track and/or live studio audience.
The Simpsons – “The Springfield Files”
It’s pretty clear that Matt Groening and his writers love the world of geek, given that he went on to create one of the geekiest animated sitcoms, Futurama. It’s therefore not at all surprising that The Simpsons often featured geeky themes in various forms.
One of our faves is “The Springfield Files,” an episode that guest-starred Leonard Nimoy (who narrated most of the episode), as well as Gillian Anderson and David Duchovney, who reprised their X-Files roles as Agents Scully and Mulder. What’s more mysterious than unexplained aliens? The answer is simply Mr. Burns promising love and then breaking into song.
Community – “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”
Community has gone geeky in many, many ways, though one of the best may be “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,” an episode where the study group decided to help a bullied and depressed student, Neil. Turns out Neil plays D&D and the group decides to join a game in order to lift his spirits.
All seems to go well; Jeff is cooly aloof, Abed and Troy accept each other’s realities, Annie proves herself more likable than we thought possible, and, of course, Pierce fills the role as antagonist. In the end the study group and adventuring group both fulfill their missions and all ends well.
That ’70s Show – “A New Hope”
Eric’s love of Star Wars is chronicled throughout the run of the show, but this first-season episode introduces the characters to the franchise, while also referencing it in multiple ways, including a crazy dream where Red plays the part of Obi Wan, Kitty is an X-Wing pilot who is vacuuming with R2-D2, and Hyde and Kelso play the parts of Han and Chewie.
How I Met Your Mother‘s Star Wars References
While HIMYM doesn’t have an entire episode dedicated to a geeky theme, Ted, Marshall, and Barney’s enduring love of Star Wars is a recurring theme in the franchise, seen regularly in their references to the movies as part of their normal exchanges. For example, after Marshall’s father dies and his friends are trying to comfort him by not disagreeing with him, Marshall tries to provoke them as shown in the clip above. The look on Barney and Ted’s faces after Marshall makes his outrageous claim in regard to Episode 1 shows just what kind of Star Wars fans these characters are.
Friends – “The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry”
Phoebe discovers her sister has been filming pornographic parodies, starring as “Buffay the Vampire Layer,” a play on her last name as well as a reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the reference is short and fleeting, the over-the-top hair of Buffay is rather Buffy-esque and the brooding dark-haired vampire Nosferatool does kinda remind us of Angel.
What are some of the most memorable geeky references in non-geeky shows? Let us know in the comments!
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