For a long time, I didn’t get the television show “The Big Bang Theory.” My husband was really into it—so much so in fact I found it annoying. On numerous occasions he watched it when we traveled (oddly, he only watched it on planes). I was a little embarrassed when he didn’t seem to realize how loudly he was laughing because his headphones were on and I wanted to pretend I didn’t know him.
But this past fall, he started watching the endless reruns at home and I started paying more attention. At first, I smiled a little bit but then after I got to know the characters better I found myself enjoying it as much as he did. In fact, around the holidays when we were in Target we decided to purchase the first ten seasons in a DVD box set so that we could start from the beginning and watch every episode. It was a huge commitment but one I was prepared to make.
For those of you who don’t know much about “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s about a group of Caltech professor scientist friends (Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj), and Sheldon and Leonard’s across-the-hall female neighbor (Penny). As the show progressed, new characters joined the original five, including love interests, Amy and Bernadette, as well as Stuart, the owner of the comic book store the men frequent.
The show is a comedy. However, it is often touching and thought-provoking. The self-proclaimed nerds frequently discuss how they were bullied as kids, with one of Leonard’s former tormentors (who’s still a jerk) appearing in an episode. And while the male leads act juvenile, playing video games, paint ball and board games such as Dungeons and Dragons in their free time, they are also incredibly supportive and tolerant of one another.
Sheldon, a brilliant physicist, has Asperger’s syndrome and OCD and, although he can be extremely annoying, they love and accept him for who he is. In one episode, Professor Proton (played brilliantly by Bob Newhart) asks Leonard why he puts up with Sheldon, to which Leonard replies that Sheldon is a little broken and he needs him and that Leonard needs Sheldon as well. Isn’t that what friendship is about after all? Jim Parsons has deservedly won multiple awards for his portrayal of Sheldon.
“Big Bang” also delves into the difficult relationship people have with their families. Leonard wishes his cold psychiatrist mother could be more like Sheldon’s warm and nurturing mom and Sheldon wishes that his bible-thumping Texan mom could be brilliant and analytical like Leonard’s. Penny wants her father’s approval of her choice of boyfriends and Bernadette wants her dad to get closer to Howard. One thing they all agree on is that they are glad their mothers aren’t like Howard’s overbearing Jewish mom.
I would be doing the show a disservice if I didn’t mention some of show’s guest stars. In addition to Bob Newhart, cameos and guest appearances have been made by Bill Nye the Science Guy, George Takei, Stephen Hawking, Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Sheen, LeVar Burton, Stan Lee, Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones, and Elon Musk to name a few. The guest stars seem to have had as much fun appearing on the show as much as the cast appreciated having them.
One of the best aspects of “Big Bang” is that the writers have allowed each of the characters to grow. Some have gotten married and had children, others have changed jobs. Raj, who was initially too shy to talk to women without first drinking alcohol finally gets over his shyness in season six. Penny learns that she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places and realizes Leonard is The One.
Out of all the characters, Sheldon grows the most; his friendship with Penny and his relationship with Amy (played by Mayim Bialik) help him develop empathy and humor. While initially he does not seem to have any interest in women and his romance with Amy evolves glacially, it does indeed evolve. From hand holding to a hug to a kiss to “coitus,” as Sheldon refers to lovemaking, to a marriage proposal, Amy and Sheldon’s love story is a beautiful one.
The show also deals with many real life issues, such as the death of Howard’s mother—who we never actually see but hear in almost every episode – (HOWARD!…), to the decision Bernadatte makes to return to work after the birth of her and Howard’s daughter. I read that the original cast members took a pay cut a few years ago so that Bialik and Melissa Rauch (the actor who plays Bernadette) would earn the same salary as them, which I thought showed a tremendous amount about the relationship all the actors have with each other even off-screen.
So now it’s season 12 and near the end. The actors and writers have decided that the show has gone about as far as it can go and will be wrapping it up in May. Now that I’ve fallen in love with “Big Bang” I’m really sad it won’t be on anymore. I will miss seeing the gang walking up and down the steps to their apartments and sitting in Sheldon and Leonard’s living room eating together. Thank goodness we have the box set and can also watch the reruns almost nightly on television but it won’t be the same.
Even though I was late to the party, thank you “Big Bang” for being smart and sweet and quirky and for teaching me that sometimes my husband is right.