The Big Bang Observation
The Big Bang Theory ran on CBS from 2007 to 2019. Admittedly, I didn’t watch the first couple of seasons. I began watching it around 2014. When it went into syndication, I began watching the reruns on TBS. When I went down to the very basic cable package in 2020, the only thing I really missed were those reruns. I bought the series on DVD and began watching it from beginning to end. Eventually, I got HBO Max and was able to stream it as well.
Having watched it a ton of times, I have a number of things that I have observed about the show and its characters. First, some random things. Why do Leonard and Penny’s apartments have doorbells but no one uses them? And why do they have a card catalog in the apartment? Is there anything in the drawers or is it empty? Did Leonard put the old fuse holder on the wooden pillar? And what purpose does it serve, if any? And the set up of the apartments make no sense. Apartments tend to fold in on themselves to make the best use of space, but the apartments in the show are all spread out. Despite some of the lingering questions I have about the décore, I do love the bright colors they use to decorate the apartments.
Now, I want to address so-called “Nerd Culture.” While the writers do seem to have an affinity for things like Dungeons and Dragons, Comic Books, Star Trek and Star Wars, they also make fun of the characters for having a passion for these same things. Real life “nerds” have complained that the writing often portrays them in an unflattering light. I can see why someone might take offense to some of jokes, but I don’t feel the comedy was meant to be malicious. I think a lot of the problems stem from Anti-Intellectual streak that runs through the US. If the writer’s merely praised the those who were incredibly intelligent, the show would not have had such a broad appeal. If the characters were without flaws, no one would have liked them. The have to make the characters socially awkward to make them more relatable or likable.
Sheldon Cooper is, without a doubt, on the autism spectrum. I am not sure why they never actually addressed it. Perhaps they didn’t intend to write him that way, but once they did, they decided not to call attention to it. If they had labeled Sheldon as such, they would have received a great deal of criticism for how the portrayed someone with autism. They couldn’t poke fun at Sheldon’s quirks if they admitted those quirks grew out of the fact he was neurodivergent.
While I have read about Sheldon having Asperger’s Syndrome, I haven’t noticed anything mentioned about Leonard’s Mother Beverly. Her cold and detached parenting style screams autism. The reason Sheldon and Beverly get along so well, is that they are both neurodivergent. It also makes sense that Leonard gets stuck with Sheldon as a roommate because of his “mommy” issues. Leonard tolerates Sheldon because he had tolerate his mother growing up. Sheldon slowly starts to stand up for himself and resolve some of his issues through his relationship with his his friend and roommate over the 12 year run of the show. We see Leonard get to the point where he can marry Penny and live with her instead of the infuriating Sheldon. Sheldon is still a huge part of his life and still lives across the hall, but the two of them are no longer working out their issues together.
Howard’s relationship with his mother is quite troubling. They tend to make fun of their unhealthy closeness, but what they never address is how mean Howard is to her. She yells at him from across the house and he angrily snaps back at her. Although her love may feel smothering, the level of resentment Howard demonstrates is disturbing. And Mrs. Wolowitz just takes it. She deserves more respect than that. It just makes me sad to see how Howard treats her.
He doesn’t always treat Bernadette great either, but she has a mean streak and fights back. Their relationship had some unhealthy undercurrents, but luckily they seemed to work on their relationship and ultimately come to a healthy and happy place together.
The writer’s have often used homosexuality and bisexuality as a cause for comedy, but never really addressed the issues seriously. I really would have liked to Raj date a guy even if it wasn’t Howard. He keeps claiming he isn’t and maybe he isn’t gay in the strictest sense. Raj is probably bisexual, but the writers never thought to explore that intelligently. The writers also made quite a few references to Amy’s crush on Penny, but it was never addressed either. Amy went from asexual to bisexual quickly and without ceremony. Again, it was played for laughs, but it should have been explored further.
Another thing that gets overlooked is just how abusive Amy’s mother was. Amy’s mother wasn’t just odd or a “ball-buster.” She was controlling over Amy and incredibly uncomfortable with any hint that her daughter was a sexual being. Amy awkwardness and outsider status was due largely to her mother isolating her from corruptible influences. Although Amy’s Mom wasn’t labeled overly religious, we get the feeling religion was a part of her reason for controlling Amy. Sheldon’s mother wasn’t abusive, but she was very religious. Amy and Sheldon both became scientists and atheists, at least in part due to their religious upbringings. I would think this element of their childhoods is part of why they connected in the first place.
The show Young Sheldon explores Sheldon’s childhood in Texas. I thought they did a great job in casting a younger version of his Mom. She looked a lot like Laurie Metcalf, who played Mary Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. They I found out that the young Mary Cooper is played by Zoey Perry, who is the daughter of Laurie Metcalf! No wonder they looked so much alike!
Overall, I have enjoyed the prequel to The Big Bang Theory,: however, I couldn’t help but notice George Cooper’s alcoholism is played down in the spin-off. Sheldon’s recollections in the original series paint a childhood filled with drama. I imagine the writer’s didn’t want us to hate George Senior, so they toned down his bad behavior when they started writing the new show. One could also argue that Sheldon made things sound worse than they really were. Despite being toned down, the basic outline of events remains true, which is nice. It would have driven me crazy if they kept Sheldon’s parents together or changed some other part of the narrative we would already given in the original show.
People either seem to love or hate The Big Bang Theory. While I consider myself a fan, I do see flaws in the show. There are many funny moments, but some jokes do fall flat. The jokes that fall flat are jokes that rely too heavily on stereotypes or try to over simplify things too much. There are some serious moments that are moving, but overall tone of the show is light. Comedy is supposed to be light, but some serious moments are necessary to keep it real. The trick is finding the right balance. Sometimes The Big Bang Theory succeeds in keeping this balance and other times it doesn’t.
Despite these issues, I love The Big Bang Theory anyway. I have come to feel like I know the characters. They are familiar and relatable. They grew and changed over 12 Seasons and I have come to see them as friends. Watching the show is comforting.
Hi Cari! 😊 Been meaning to tell you I enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing!