If you're anything like me, you were super excited when you heard that Bill Nye was getting a brand new show on Netflix.
After all, this is the science guy. This is the man whose VHS tapes taught us about everything from angular momentum to archaeology when the science teachers of the nation were hungover. He taught a generation of young minds to love science with indefatigable passion and a quirky sense of humor.
More recently, Bill Nye has become the friendly, recognizable face of reason on countless cable news channels. He has gone toe-to-toe with creationists and climate change deniers, patiently explaining the baselessness of their opinions, and pleading with Americans to make decisions based on facts.
Given all that, booking him to host his own Netflix show sounded like a great idea. The world needs a dose of rationality more than ever. Who better to serve it than America's most beloved edutainer? What could possibly go wrong?
Well. The reviews of Bill Nye Saves the World are in, and they are scathing.
The near-consensus among audience members of all political persuasions is that the show obnoxious. Here's what Reddit has to say about it:
But don't take Reddit's word for it. Bill Nye Saves the World currently has a 3.3/10 rating on IMDb, and a 28% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Although, interestingly, it has a 75% "fresh" rating from professional critics).
There are a couple of possible explanations for the massive unpopularity with ordinary viewers.
It hardly helps that several of the show's segments have gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
Exhibit A is this song, a woefully misguided ode to sexual diversity that includes the line: "Who enjoys a Fleshlight/ in the cold moonlight?/ With a sad clown/ skyping via satellite."
Exhibit B is this animated sketch featuring ice cream cones. Vanilla is attempting to force the other flavors into conversion therapy. This backfires when the other flavors then attempt to pressure him into trying "a neapolitan". The whole thing ends in an inexplicable ice cream orgy.
But personally, I think the reason for the negative reaction to Bill Nye Saves the World is bigger than one or two cringe-inducing segments. The show spends less time explaining its positions than it spends mocking people who don't share them. That's not science.
And look, Bill Nye is right about almost everything. Sexuality isn't black and white. We do need green energy. You should get your children vaccinated. But who is this show for? Is it for people who haven't heard all the facts, or is it for people who already agree with Bill?
If the show's intended audience is people who already agree with its message, then that's a self-congratulatory waste. People who are already worried about climate change don't need Bill Nye the Science Guy for the same reason choir boys don't need Sunday School.
On the other hand, if the show is meant to convince irrational people to accept evidence, then talking down to those same people is counter-productive, however tempting it may be.
So I'm begging you, Bill: please stop making fun of the deniers and start actually trying to convince them. We can't afford to keep losing the war after winning all the battles.
If you can make 8-year-old me care about rocks and minerals, you can make republicans care about climate change.