FINALLY made it through the cold open of an episode of The Big Bang Theory. We realized what the problem was. I initially felt that the jokes were trying too hard. It felt as if they were written by non-geeks who thought they knew what geeks thought were funny. Having now far too many friends whose viewing opinions I trust tell me good things about this show, I toughed it out with my husband and soon came to realize that (A) that is how Sheldon is supposed to be, and more importantly, (B) the people in charge of the laugh track need to be shot.
Now that we understand Sheldon's character, we can appreciate him and find it amusing, but that laugh track was making us cringe. I was wrong about the jokes being written by non-geeks. It was the guy pushing the laugh button that was clueless.
Fortunately, either the laugh track grew more subdued as the show progressed, or else we managed to get used to it. Big Bang Theory is officially on the DVR list now.