Hey CBS - what's with all the brainiacs?
CBS has more shows about geniuses than any other network ever - forensic and detective shows, threat-of-the-week shows, The Big Bang Theory - at least a dozen programs, dwarfing the number of CBS shows about idiots (Big Brother).
Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory, IQ 187)
Leonard Hofstadter (The Big Bang Theory, IQ 173)
Sherlock Holmes (Elementary, IQ 190)
Simon Cade (NCIS, IQ 160)
Walter O'Brien (leader of the pack of geniuses on Scorpion, IQ 197)
Spencer Reid (Criminal Minds, IQ 187)
And a bunch more.
And this fall on CBS - Limitless, a spinoff of the Bradley Cooper movie about a pill that turns on all your brain cells at once. In the Limitless promo, a character says, "Every time he takes it, he basically becomes the smartest person in the world." (This follows last year's cancelled CBS series Intelligence, about the world's first person to have a brain chip that directly connects him to the internet.)
So why is CBS obsessed with genius? I suspect that much of it has to do with the average age of CBS viewers - nearly 59, the oldest of all the major networks - for these reasons:
1. Older viewers might tend to prefer straightforward, simple narratives, and there's nothing like a genius to neatly wrap up everything by the end of the hour.
2. The world is complicated and confusing and increasingly tech-heavy, especially for some older people. So it's comforting to see that genius good guys can keep the world from spinning into chaos.
3. I'm watching a show about super-smart people, and I can understand it, so I must be super-smart (even though my awful grandkids constantly roll their eyes at me).
Some quick irony - clicking around for this post, I found an article by Dave Logan for CBS MoneyWatch, "Why Geniuses Don't Have Jobs." Dave, you should check out your parent company - they love to hire geniuses, at least the fake TV kind.
And now for my gripe. I have the highest IQ in America and the second-highest IQ in the world - 199 - two points higher than that Walter O'Brien goofball and thus higher than any of CBS's gaggle of geniuses. (Though in actuality, almost everything about claiming to have an IQ at this level is nonsense.) So where's my CBS show? I'm TV-ready, having written TV comedy for more than 25 years (racking up eight Writers Guild Award and Emmy nominations). My life is like a sitcom - though I'm a genius, my family treats me like a dumb TV dad, and I've had lots of fun adventures - stripping, bar bouncing, being a 26-year-old high school senior, suing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a flawed question, and taking less than a year to earn enough college credit to graduate with eight majors. You don't see Sherlock Holmes or The Mentalist doing any of that.
I live a few blocks away from a billboard for Scorpion (featuring four TV geniuses, a blackboard with equations, the liquid metal cop from Terminator 2, the runner-up from season five of American Idol, and the tagline, "This team is pure genius") which mocks me daily from high above my 2000 Toyota Celica. I applied to work for the real-life company on which Scorpion is based and reached out to a Scorpion producer. Nothin'.
So c'mon, CBS - take a meeting. You can't get any closer to real genius than a real, live genius.