Reddit users are angry with Bill Nye Saves The World, the new Netflix series starring the mechanical engineer and science advocate popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy; a moniker that has stuck with him since his 90s show of the same name. Members of the online community have taken to the website to voice their disappointment with the new show and its content, criticizing the production value and even discussing what they would consider more appropriate names for the series. Among the most brutal critiques was a very popular post lamenting the politicized approach of Bill Nye Saves The World, a vast difference from his past show which focused on education and was geared towards younger kids.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Bill Nye since I was ten,” writes Reddit user Sloth859. “Bill Nye the Science Guy was entertaining and educational. Bill Nye Saves the World is neither. In this show he simply brings up an issue, tells you which side you should be on, and then makes fun of people on the other side.” The critical post went on to provide examples of what the Reddit user called a misrepresentation of opposing viewpoints, including nuclear power, Paleo dieting, and alternative medicine. As of the time of this writing, the Reddit post has almost 83,000 upvotes and over 16,000 comments.
Other people share the same sentiments, and the criticisms aren’t limited to Reddit. The IMDb rating for the Bill Nye Saves The World is currently at a very low 3.2 out of 10 from 4,422 reviews, compared to the 8.5 out of 10 rating for the older series. While the show gets a 75 percent “freshness” score from Rotten Tomatoes, the user submitted rating is a dismal 29 percent, or 1.9 out of 5.
Some Reddit users have come to the defense of Bill Nye’s new show, however, showing that the initial reactions may simply be a result of disappointment from an audience expecting a modern reimagining of the older show. In one comment on Sloth859’s post, user jxl180 points out that childhood nostalgia could be the real culprit of viewers’ discontent.
“Yes, it’s total cringe; however, nearly every episode of Bill Nye TSG ended with a cringy/cheesy song (usually a parody) or rap,” the comment states. “I’m not even sure if people loved Bill Nye as much as they remember, or if the fact that it was watched in the classroom (instead of doing traditional classroom material) sweetened the pot. For me it didn’t matter what they showed as long as the TV cart was in the room.”
A graduate of Cornell University, Bill Nye began his career in science in 1977 as an engineer for multinational aerospace and defense corporation Boeing in Seattle, Washington, until he left the company in 1986 to pursue a career in comedy. He wrote skits and performed wacky science experiments for locally produced sketch comedy show, Almost Live!. Nye aspired to be a more modern and funny version of Nickelodeon’s 80s science show, Mr. Wizard, and he pitched his idea to KCTS-TV Channel 9, the Seattle public television station. Bill Nye the Science Guy was soon syndicated nationally and won 19 of the 23 Emmy Awards it was nominated for over its five seasons.
Since then, Nye has been a public voice in the scientific community, advocating for more research into climate change and using his public influence to encourage kids and young adults to enter various sciences as a career choice. He has continued his advocacy through speaking engagements and through his work on various media productions, including Through the Eyes of Nye, a more in-depth series geared towards an older audience than his shows previously targeted. More recently, he had also become a voice in the political arena, leading the April “March For Science” in Washington, D.C., a protest of the environmental policies of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as appearing on U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ new podcast, The Bernie Sanders Show.
Nye’s political activism may also have something to do with the backlash that Bill Nye Saves The World is receiving on Reddit and other social media platforms. For many, scientific research and discovery are built on objectivity, and politics just gets in the way. But others see science as already politicized and believe that there is a need for members of the scientific community to speak out and stand up to politicians. Regardless, it is unlikely that Bill Nye is going to stop trying to “Save The World,” no matter what Reddit users have to say about it.
[Featured Image by Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP Images]