Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill.
If you grew up in the nineties, you are likely familiar with Bill Nye the Science Guy, a show that made us think about cool scientific principles or fun and engaging terms. Maybe that tv cart rolled into class and you knew you were going to enjoy the day at school because the VHS tape of Bill Nye was sitting, waiting on the teachers desk.
For those too young to remember the tv cart, back in the day, there weren’t projectors in each classroom. If a teacher wanted to show a video, they had to roll a large cart with a giant tv and VHS player that had to be brought in and plugged in. It was a dark time for technology, but a good day for students. (If you don’t know what a VHS tape is, you are so lucky. You don’t understand the work that used to go into watching your favorite movie or skipping the commercials. Consider this fun Buzzfeed article about the torture we nineties folks went through for entertainment and communication.)
Today, it seems that Bill Nye (the person, not the show) is here to continue in his tradition of encouraging us to think and care about science. He’s been a vocal advocate for policies that protect the climate. He’s debated evolution versus creationism. He planned, in large part, the March for Science this past month. And now, he has arrived, To Save the World.
Netflix produced and released the 13 episode season, with each episode focusing on a specific issue, from climate change to video games to the sexual spectrum.
The show is a delight. As a fan of Nye’s energetic style and finding myself in agreement with his positions on the issues, it was easy to watch in its 30-minutes segments. However, I can also see some detractions from it. First, many of the segments looked at actual hard facts, in particular his reliance on a “table of experts;” however, there were many times that I was left hoping for a more scientific explanation of things.
I think that he had an opportunity to use scientific principles and terminology in a fun way that would have made the science a lot less threatening. A lot of people feel that they will never understand the science, and so never try. While I liked the ideas and the use of real world examples and segments, I think Nye missed the mark slightly.
Second, he was unabashedly against certain ideas. While I can understand his frustration with the purveyance of religious ideologies that largely ignore scientific principles, I don’t know that his harsh comments in regards to them do anything to aid in educating that segment of his audience. Now perhaps he assumed that no one watching it falls into that category, but it still seems like a misstep.
However, apart from those two things, I honestly enjoyed the show. There is an enthusiasm to the reporting, a quirky inclusion of celebrity figures, and an overall introduction of scientific principles that matter today. I think that this was a fun way to engage a now adult audience (we’re adults guys, can you believe it?), and get us to think about why science matters, and why what we do about it is important. Maybe you feel on the fence about vaccinations. Maybe you don’t understand the importance of space exploration.
Well, Bill Nye is here to… dare I say it? Save the world.