Most of us watch American TV shows. Some of these shows strike a chord with us in no time. Our affinity for each of these shows may be attributed to a lot of factors including genre, the cast or the characters in the show.
Take Friends for instance. It has been the quintessential comedy show ever since it first went on air in 1994. Although all the six main characters are equally likeable, Chandler Bing stands out. The character, portrayed by Matthew Perry, redefines comedy and is blessed with an impeccable sense of timing. Be it any situation; Chandler can break the tension with a funny one-liner, however somber the situation is.
The title of this piece is misleading, some might say. It is supposed to be about a person with a split personality. But it isn’t. It is about two people from seemingly different backgrounds, but who have a lot in common. The other person that I am talking about is obviously Sheldon Cooper (played by Jim Parsons), from The Big Bang Theory, another hugely popular sitcom. Dr Cooper, as other ‘lesser’ minds address him, is a person who is a psychology student’s Bermuda Triangle. There seems to be no plausible explanation at hand to account for his unnatural behavior and his one-of-a-kind-ness. I even read on one blog that Sheldon may have Asperger’s Syndrome which may explain why he is uncomfortable at social gatherings. However, Sheldon does not seem to possess those characteristics that a person with Asperger’s normally would (like Shah Rukh did in My Name Is Khan).
If I were to say that Chandler and Sheldon share a lot of traits and behave in a similar fashion in some situations, most people would scoff at me. However, there are certain characteristics that you cannot ignore. Both Sheldon and Chandler are afraid of dogs, but seem to like cats! Both of them are adept at wordplay and pun that can make the audience laugh very easily, although Sheldon does not do it intentionally. Both of them make feeble attempts at social conversation but fail miserably. There is a child inside each of the two characters. This side of the character is seen in Sheldon’s love for comic books, science fiction movies and his attachment to his grandmother. Chandler likes to play with mundane stuff like balloons and likes video games too. But the most significant point of similarity is that people just love watching them on-screen!
Then again, there are certain differences between the two characters that are stark. Sheldon’s definition of recreation is similar to that of Ross (a puzzle maybe?), while Chandler likes to engage himself in outdoor activities (racquetball) and watches television shows, like a normal person. The biggest difference however is that Chandler has low self-esteem while Sheldon is outright supercilious. Again, these traits are those that make us laugh until we cry. And yeah..both of them are very emotional characters. Bazinga! Sheldon isn’t!
The bottom-line is, these idiosyncrasies make these characters the crowd-pleasers that they are. Sheldon’s tangerine malapropism, though not intended, shows just how much thought has gone into the script, timing and line delivery. Both Perry and Parsons are excellent comedians who outshine the other actors on their respective shows with little effort. Sometimes, they do quibble like this post does, but they at least make the viewers laugh! Thanks to these two, the word ‘sarcasm’ has acquired an extra dimension!