Media, TV Rambles

TV Rambles: Why The Big Bang Theory Should End

Wow, it’s been a year since I last posted in the TV Rambles section. Today I’m back on this topic, only with a difference. This post is not going to be a review but a spontaneous commentary inspired by the latest news about one of my favourite comedy shows, The Big Bang Theory.

The sitcom – one of the most popular shows in the U.S. – has been in the news for the past weeks as media analysts and critics speculated about its possible renewal after the current 10th season. While there is no confirmation of this yet, the chances seemed high until a few weeks ago. However, what was confirmed earlier this week was the creation of a prequel based on the young Sheldon Cooper (the most popular character of the show), which could be aired later this year or next year.

All this talk about TBBTs future revived some thoughts which I had tried to suppress in order to enjoy this show.

As a long-time follower I have to say that, notwithstanding the idea of a spin-off, TBBT should not be renewed after the 10th season. In fact, it often feels like we could’ve even survived without the last season (or two). There, I said it.

The Good Old Days

I started watching The Big Bang Theory when there were already 3 or 4 seasons. As a sitcom formula, it didn’t seem overly outstanding. There’s even the annoying laugh track. What attracted me, of course, was that the protagonists were geeks. Although I don’t consider myself a classic geek (games, comics and cosplaying aren’t exactly part of my life), I found these characters more relatable than the regular sociable types that usually populate American comedy shows.

What I liked best was not just that the geeks were the main characters (as opposed to being the side-kicks to the perfect-looking protagonist), but also the overall setting. One would expect nerdy characters to thrive in a high-school setting but in this case, they were adults based in a post-graduate academic environment. At the time, I thought it was an innovative idea. Each character has quirky qualities that are the basis of running gags. Leonard is the shy, wimpy guy who can’t get a girl, Sheldon is socially clueless, Howard is a wannabe womaniser and Raj can’t even speak to girls. Then there’s Penny, the classic blonde girl who lives next door, too sexy for the nerds but with her own personal failures. They’re all stereotypes, yes, but I think that stereotypes are essential to comedies, at least to a certain point.

The original main cast © Warner Bros. / CBS

Another thing I’ve always loved about TBBT is that the guest stars weren’t simply famous celebrities but also important people from the scientific field of study and from the geeky popular culture. Stephen Hawking and Wil Wheaton are perhaps the best examples. These appearances are all hilarious and they give a little depth to the scientific and geeky themes while making it more bearable (not everyone can understand references).

The Girls and the Evolution

Season 3 saw the introduction of two female characters that would become regulars later on. These were Bernadette and Amy, who would later hook up with Howard and Sheldon respectively (and Penny with Leonard). Both girls have their own quirks: one is of small stature but with a fiery, dominating personality; the other is socially awkward and sexually frustrated. Both of them work in the sciences, so they perfectly complement their male counterparts while bringing variety to the female part of the cast (I was never a Penny fan, sorry).

Unfortunately, as the series progressed and both the male and female characters matured, fans started to target Bernadette and Amy, accusing them of being the cause of the show’s decline. I’ve always disagreed with this because these two characters brought about a much-needed evolution. They helped the male protagonists break out of their stereotypes, showing that geeks are human after all and deserving (as well as capable) of entertaining social and romantic relationships.

Bernadette and Amy © Warner Bros. / CBS

Now what?

I have to say that since the last couple of seasons, I don’t laugh as hard anymore. I can’t explain why or what is exactly wrong. I can’t say if it’s the jokes that don’t work anymore or if it’s the whole storyline that has become monotonous. The video clips with the laugh track removed perhaps prove that the jokes aren’t as funny as they seem.

I also think that each character hasn’t a lot left to offer, now that their life seems almost settled. Leonard and Penny have always been the least interesting to me, Howard and Bernadette are all about forming a family, and even Shamy (Sheldon & Amy) has become kind of regular. Raj and Stuart (I think Stuart deserves to appear more often) are the only ones that still make me laugh, maybe because they’re the only ones who are still misfits and who are still evolving.

That’s precisely why I think that The Big Bang Theory should come to an end as soon as possible. Not necessarily because it’s not funny anymore, but because the characters have evolved. Once a character reaches a certain stage of maturity, chances are that his story arc won’t remain as engaging anymore. (SPOILER ALERT until the end of the paragraph for those who haven’t followed the last season or two) Leonard and Penny have learned to tone down their differences and live together without having Sheldon around; Howard and Bernadette have reached a new level of maturity with the arrival of their baby; Amy and Sheldon are now a regular cohabiting couple and the latter is learning that his girlfriend and everyone around him is a human being with feelings. It’s only Raj who’s still in the process of finding his place, having no steady girlfriend yet (not that it’s necessary, but that’s how his character was built up) but at least he’s realising that he needs to become assertive and financially independent. Finally, Howard’s and Leonard’s project with the military needs a closure, but it’s not something that I’m personally interested in.

The Future

At first, when I read the news about the prequel project, I was pleased because I thought it would spell the end of the original show. I’m not sure if the prequel could be a success, though. Spin-offs have always been tricky, with some big successes such as Frasier and some flops like Joey. Having a prequel based on the most popular character seems like a good choice, but how many TBBT are willing to see a show with a kid as a protagonist? No matter what, a prequel sounds better than a renewal.

© Warner Bros. / CBS

The chances for a renewal seem high just because the show is still a winner in terms of ratings. However, as a long-time (but now tired) fan, I really hope the story finally comes to a closure. Ten years are enough for a sitcom. The more they persist, the less funny and engaging it becomes and it can drive more fans away. It would be such a pity to stretch it out longer until it fizzles. So please, just wrap it up as soon as possible, make it end with a bang and let’s just remember it as one of the most influential sitcoms of the 2000s.

UPDATE @ 21st March: So, the news of the renewal came in just yesterday. Two more seasons plus the spin-off. It’s not surprising since it still performs so well after all these years. But my points are still valid. Will it end with a bang or will it fizzle into nothing?

Do you watch The Big Bang Theory? Do you agree or disagree with my opinion? Leave a comment on this post or drop me a mail!
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  • Reply PS 19th March 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I really liked your post and I found it interesting. Isn’t it funny how perspectives are different? I watched a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory in its first and second season and did not enjoy it. It actually wasn’t until I sat down with a friend as she watched a couple of episodes in season 8 that it started to peak my interest and I went back and watched all the seasons. I found the show to be funnier as the show went on, and really enjoyed the 9th season the best (haven’t started the 10th season yet)– with Amy Ferra Fowler being my favorite character.

    I do agree with you, though- prequels and spin offs are very risky, and I’m not sure a TBBT spinoff would be much of a success.

    • Reply Tiziana 19th March 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks! Yes it’s funny how perspectives differ but that’s the beauty of it all.

      Amy is still my fave together with Sheldon, although Raj and Stuart make me laugh the hardest these days. I started to sort of give up on this show precisely during the 9th season, maybe it ceased to appear innovative in my eyes. Whatever happens now, I still appreciate having followed it and I’ll still rank it among my favourites.

      Thanks a lot for your input!

  • Reply Myna Kaltschnee 21st March 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Hey Tizy,

    I watch TBBT from time to time. I like the sitcom a lot and just like you, I somehow can relate with the nerdy protagonists – at least more than with most other sitcom characters. I must confess, that I don’t know the new episodes yet. I haven’t watched the last two or three seasons yet. Anyway I understand what you mean with saying that the characters have evolved and the story is told. I don’t think a spin-off is a good idea… it’s probably like with Two and a Half Men after Charlie Sheen left the show. It wasn’t really interesting anymore. Only because a sitcom is commercially successful doesn’t mean that it makes sense to prolong it over and over again.

    Great article!


    • Reply Tiziana 22nd March 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Mimi 🙂

      Oh, I hope I haven’t spoiled too much for you if you plan on watching more.
      I never followed Two and a Half Men except for some random episodes when Sheen was still there. Changing a main actor is definitely a no-no, no matter what the circumstances are.

      Oh well, now we’ll get two more seasons of TBBT anyway, we’ll see if it gets better or worse. I wish they could learn from the British and keep a show 3-4 seasons long max. In fact, my next tv review will be of a British geeky comedy. 🙂

      Thanks a lot for the comment and like! Take care *hugs*.

  • Reply wonderwall360blog 16th April 2017 at 4:42 pm

    I find Bernadette’s voice really annoying and squeaky. Pity as Like idea of two female scientists in it.

    • Reply Tiziana 16th April 2017 at 6:52 pm

      I agree, such a trait can only be funny for a couple of episodes, then it soon becomes annoying. I like that there are female scientists too, perhaps one of few good things with the female characters of this show.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  • Reply TV Rambles: The IT Crowd – Scrabbled Rambles 23rd April 2017 at 9:46 pm

    […] READ: Why The Big Bang Theory Should End (Scrabbled Rambles) […]

  • Reply Mike 14th August 2017 at 11:20 am

    The show should unvind by breaking all the romantic relationships in one season and in the final make the original gang be nerds and sexy blonde neighbour again.. As they were in the begining. Older, wiser, yes.. but single quirky unattached group again…

    • Reply Tiziana 14th August 2017 at 8:38 pm

      Hi Mike.
      That would be an interesting twist! But I doubt the producers and the audience want that, usually the general public roots for a positive, conventional ending haha.
      Thanks for the comment!

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