A generation grew up on the Emmy-winning TV show Bill Nye the Science Guy. The series spanned 100 episodes and covered everything from dinosaurs to computers. Kids came home from school to watch Bill Nye on PBS in their living rooms. They cheered when their teacher would pop a Bill Nye video into the VCR during science class and enthusiastically sang along to the show’s intro. These days, however, as Nye has become increasingly involved in politicized issues, he is more likely to be seen on the news than on children’s television.
A mechanical engineer, Nye is nonetheless well-known for being brought on by news channels to argue for climate change or against creationism.
On Sept. 22, 2015, the pro-life community was greatly disappointed when Nye released a short video with Big Think titled “Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?” in which he argues for abortion. The video begins with the assertion, “Many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans,” even though the consensus of embryologists is that the moment of fertilization marks the beginning of human life. Other points of Nye’s include that “you wouldn’t know how big a human egg was if it weren’t for microscopes,” and that an insistence on abstinence and closing abortion facilities has been ineffective for society at large. Throughout the video he laments the “deep scientific lack of understanding” of pro-lifers and repeatedly emphasizes how frustrated he is.
On April 21, 2017, his new series Bill Nye Saves the World premiered on Netflix with the proclamation that “Bill is back!” It is evident from the show that he is continuing down the same politically correct path, though the tide of popular opinion is turning against him. The series has a 3.3/10 rating on IMDb and an average rating of 1.9/5 for the Rotten Tomatoes audience score.
In “Episode 9: The Sexual Spectrum” Nye distinguishes sex (being biological) from gender (how one identifies), but both, he asserts, are nonetheless on a spectrum, as are “attraction” and “expression.” Nye exclaims, “For those of you out there…who may be concerned about people who don’t seem to share your sexuality, just get over it, will you?!” Later in the episode, cartoon ice cream cones of different flavours attend “Ice Cream Conversion Therapy.” Vanilla claims that it feels it is the “most natural of the ice creams” and that everyone else should be vanilla too, or at least pretend to be. Further, “if you want to get right with a big ice cream in the sky, change your flavor by wishing to be vanilla.” The other ice cream flavours insist that their flavour is an unchangeable part of themselves and the clip ends in a big ice cream orgy.
A song by comedian Rachel Bloom featured in the episode and creatively titled, “My Sex Junk,” has gone viral. At the time of writing, the video has almost 2 million views on YouTube, with 2,194 likes to 127,823 dislikes. In addition to describing crude sexual acts and how Bloom is “down for anything,” the song makes claims such as “Sex how you want/It’s your G*D*** right.”
A meme circulating in response to the episode claims that on a Bill Nye the Science Guy episode Nye stated, “Gender is determined by your chromosomes.” While this is not true, another character on the show did say, “Inside each of our cells are these things called chromosomes and they control whether we become a boy or a girl…there are only two possibilities: XX – a girl – or XY – a boy.”
In “Episode 12: Designer Babies” Nye, acknowledging that “designer babies” sounds creepy, still spouts the perceived merits of IVF and how the technology can be used to determine which embryos, or “cell clusters” as he calls them, have “undesirable sets of genes” such as genetic disorders. He says, “We want everybody to have the chance to make good choices.” Not only does the episode seem to imply that a “good choice” is eliminating those embryos with genetic conditions, but in the following episode, “Episode 13: Earth’s People Problem,” Travis Rieder, who is an ethicist at the Berman Institute at Johns Hopkins University and was featured on the episode’s panel, says penalizing those in the developed world who have “extra” kids should at least be considered as a solution to “overpopulation” and its corresponding connection to climate change.