9 seasons of any show is enough cause for celebration – proving the series longevity, success, and popularity year after year. And with sitcom’s, all the legendary ones have found their success in that time frame but also well after the set has shut down and the actors and actresses have moved on with their lives. Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, The King of Queens to name a few have all came in and made their mark on American television but also globally well after the series have ended. The Big Bang Theory has nearly made it nearly a decade and shows no signs of slowing down or coming around into the fourth turn and down the home stretch.
In the beginning of the series, it’s easy to watch it with rose colored glasses. Sure, the jokes are somewhat funny (as the laugh tracks suggest), the situations are given new code, and the one thing that was held in high regard from the start is science. But viewers kept coming back for the characters and their unique dynamic with one another. And yes, I do realize that the writers depict unhealthy stereotypes of the original 5 cast members that the writers thought (wrongly) best represented the niche market the series was marketed to. They don’t, The Big Bang Theory, as many would agree, is written by people who aren’t nerds nor have any inkling of nerd culture and how this control group of 5 characters doesn’t represent the actual culture.
That’s my biggest gripe with the series as it pushes forward into a decade of being on primetime and syndication. Not every nerd is a selective mute who cannot talk to women like Raj (Kunal Nayyar), not every nerd is in his late 20’s, lives with his mother and is dependent on her for every little thing like Howard (Simon Helberg), not every nerd has an eidetic memory, is a super genius who doesn’t understand the simplest social cues like Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and not every nerd has an unhealthy obsession with receiving his mother’s approval and in turn sabotages his own relationships like Leonard (Johnny Galecki).
On top of all that the series doesn’t show the viewers any sort of respect based on this fact. Writers of the series treat the word “nerd” as a forbidden fetish. We are all nerds of something that we are drawn to and feel engrossed by every aspect of that thing. Ask anyone who has watched 1 episode or the entire series, no one will deny the issue with how nerd culture is looked at by people who doesn’t understand it themselves.
While the glaringly obvious issues are now embedded in the series DNA, season after season, the one aspect that must be accurate is the science of it all. After all, 6 of the 8 main cast are involved in science in their lives and careers. The only two that aren’t are Penny (Kaley Cuoco) (technically a Hofstadter after eloping in the season 9 opener, but her last name has notoriously been absent since season 1) and Stewart (Kevin Sussman). Everyone else from the core four to Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) are involved in some type of science-based career. And the science, from my perspective sounds real and authentic given the heavy involvement by actual physics professors.
The last few seasons with 24 episodes a season have felt a bit stagnant and repetitive. Not much in development has come to the main cast with more characters being introduced. But the few moments that really pushed the characters out of their comfort zones (Raj finally breaking his selective mutism, Sheldon running away with no plan or schedule to adhere to, Howard marrying Bernadette, Penny quitting acting and the Cheesecake Factory, and Leonard standing up for himself) has brought life back into a series that looked to be getting old way too quickly. Season 9 gives more to Amy who broke up with Sheldon and started to date Dave (Stephen Merchant). That storyline than connects to Sheldon’s growth that pushes the two of them past their typical boy slash friend slash girl slash friend contractual relationship.
Leonard and Penny get married, Stuart stops being a freeloaded after Mrs. Wolowitz passes away, Howard and Bernadette are expecting a baby and Raj is being a jackass dating two women at a time and throwing it in everyone’s faces. Maybe it was better when he was a mute. The addition of Emily (Laura Spencer) and Claire (Alessandra Torresani) are welcome additions to the core dynamic in the same sense that Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik were welcomed additions that evened the ratio. Maybe it’s a distraction from the shows lackluster storylines that sitcoms constantly borrow from one another but are given upgrades based on the shows DNA or maybe series creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady want to give a bigger voice to women in this not so niche market.
As for the writing, the series has devolved lately. The nerd culture and science are still major players in the series foundation, but every episode has increasingly more crude sexual humor that was more subtle when the series first started. Nearly every joke is sexualized that comes from characters who at one point were complaining how lonely they were in the beginning. It’s just another example of how the writers view their subject matter – they have no clue about how people talk and converse in this controlled market that has expanded over the years.
The Big Bang Theory is still a go to for sitcom’s sake based on its longevity with not much else having a lasting impression during the 2010’s. Maybe Modern Family but with a 10th season looming for this group of likeable cliched characters, how much longer can this be sustained? The science, the characters and their dynamics are still much of a factor as in season 1 but with how many new ingredients added to the pot, has the show started its decent toward the finish line?
Created By: Chuck Lorre & Bill Prady
Music By: Barenaked Ladies
Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Kevin Sussman, & Laura Spencer
Where to Watch: HBO Max
Release Date: Episode 1 – September 21, 2015
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
My Score: 2.5 out of 5