I picked up a nasty strain of the Mutaba Virus or something like it over the weekend, and I'm on the verge of going into a coma for the next 12 hours to recuperate. Because of this, I don't have the energy to write about, or even watch, tonight's "Big Bang Theory," but I want to point you all to a story on Slate that asks a question I and others have asked ourselves many times in the last year and a half: does Sheldon have Asperger's? (More thoughts after the jump.)
The writers try to duck the issue, and Jim Parsons goes along with the party line while still acknowledging that the character's behavior couldn't be any more Asperger-like. I think this is a case of the writers either not knowing about Asperger's Syndrome going in, or else being reluctant to say Sheldon's on the autism spectrum because that would imply that they're making fun of someone's disability.
Now, I have some experience with friends who are on the spectrum, so I'd be sensitive to the idea of mocking something he can't help. And I actually like the show more if I watch it with the belief that Sheldon is an Aspie. Yes, the other characters tell jokes at Sheldon's expense and get exasperated at his rigidity, but they also indulge his quirks a lot more than they would if he was just socially tin-eared, I think. Watching the Mary McDonnell arc on "Grey's Anatomy," where the character's diagnosis is made explicit, and then used as fodder for jokes, I feel like old-fashioned sitcom "Big Bang" provides a more realistic, more human and, yes, funnier take on the situation than the big hit medical series.
For those of you who know about spectrum disorders, what do you think? Are you glad "Big Bang" refuses to spell out tha Sheldon has Asperger's, or do you prefer that they leave it vague and never even use the word?