ack in elementary school, science was my favorite subject. But elementary school science isn’t all that representative of actual science. Science was painting balloons to look like planets and tracing our shadows in chalk on the blacktop, and just hearing the name “Bill Nye” is a reminder of those times. It’s a show that’s still directed at us — late 90s, early 2000s kids. But we grew up. And “Bill Nye saves the world” reflects that.
His newest show is similar to his old show, in that’s a manifestation of what his viewers need and want to hear. Back then, we just wanted jokes. Now, we want to hear that there is hope, that science is still science — regardless of how much the media or politics may try to discredit it.
The old show echoed a childhood sense of blissful ignorance. When asked what we knew about the word “matter”, we’d quote Bill Nye and yell “inertia is a property of matter” — never mind the fact that none of us knew what inertia meant. His newest show echoes his younger viewers (us) as we leave that place of ignorance and begin to notice the problems flawed world. The humor isn’t pulled from thin air; instead, it bluntly addresses the topic at hand.
The show hits a perfect balance between discussing a nostalgic past and current news. He’s older, but that doesn’t stop him from acting like that lovable cool dad. He doesn’t hesitate in making fun of himself trying to be cool either, quipping “I’m loving me some Netflix on the electric internet machines that all the kids are using.”
In the first episode, he likens the issue of climate change to World War II — a comparison that may seem extreme, but is somewhat fitting considering it neutralizes the crass under-exaggerations about global warming lately. Climate change may seem distant and ungraspable, but Nye reminds us that it really isn’t. The serious discussion about climate change is mingled with slightly more humorous elements, like playing the song “Panda” by Desiigner when the show begins talking about how global warming will hurt pandas. The song might be a few months old, but creative touches like those keep the show from seeming too boring and documentary-like.
The overly-enthusiastic kids that used to serve as Nye’s “lab assistants” have now been replaced with professionals and well-known public figures like Karlie Kloss. Still, the show isn’t without its flaws, although these tiny flaws, like the sound effects from the are essentially trivial. The show’s live audience is reminiscent of a talk show, but the audience does lean towards cheesy, rather than engaging the viewer. The simultaneous “oooh” and “aahh”s from the live audience seem outdated in a show that’s modern enough for Nye and Karlie Kloss to exchange fist bumps instead of high fives.
Humor, however, is in no way a replacement for expressing his opinions. In episode 1, Nye bluntly states that the U.S.’ greatest export is our culture. He argues that if only we were the ones to take a stance on climate change, other countries would surely follow suit. Nye might be onto something. Even if the U.S.’ efforts to stop climate change doesn’t cause a domino effect of other countries doing the same, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
It’s messages like these that prove that Nye’s new show has grown up, just as his viewers have. He’s no longer just a guy in a lab coat trying to get kids to like science. He’s a guy in a lab coat, pressing his viewers to face that science is necessary, it’s crucial. As he stated, a scientific error margin of a few percent doesn’t mean that scientific studies can be wiped away by the words of a politician. And if you still think that Bill Nye is just another outdated celebrity trying to stay relevant, it still doesn’t mean you can ignore climate change. He’ll just keep on making puns and referencing people that is still are undeniably relevant like Jay-Z — “Paraphrasing my colleague Jay-Z, it’s not one problem, we’ve got 99 problems — and they’re all difficult.”
Whether you take Bill Nye seriously or whether you only watch his shows for the nostalgic feeling and cheesy puns, he does his job by getting the information across. Tackling climate change in episode 1 was just the start. Bill Nye’s show might not save the world, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.