The Big Bang Theory (Season 12) 2018

“Howard, Bernadette, Raj, Penny, Leonard, I apologize if I haven’t been the friend you deserve. But I want you to know, in my way, I love you all.”

Over the course of 12 seasons The Big Bang Theory has certainly remained constant and unchanging. Of course, If nothing changed from season 1 until now than the show wouldn’t have made it this far and ended up as a failed experiment gone haywire. The necessary changes the show had to go through made the type of impact for creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady to stick the landing, which very few sitcom multi-camera shows get. For 12 years, we as the audience got to witness exponential growth from characters that many of us can relate to. It goes without question that majority of the time the writers of the longest running multi-camera sitcom don’t understand nerd and geek culture whatsoever and have exploited stereotypes for cheap laughs and entertainment.

That type of disconnect is front and center, year after year for 12 years – the writers never learned or did their research beyond the physics. The science and math check out – those bases were covered extensively but a little sensitivity could have gone a long way with how the show’s atmosphere is perceived. Season 12’s entire narrative revolves around change – change from characters personalities to overall growth. is it too little too late? Maybe, an argument can be made for both sides. 

Looking back to season 1, it’s almost impossible to predict the trajectory of any one of the core group especially Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who has made so much progress despite being the same arrogant and insufferable know-it-all that we had to suffer with for that amount of time. I like many others never would have imagined Sheldon paired up with another person until he met Amy (Mayim Bialik) who changed his life and opened him up to a world of possibilities that he chose to stay away from and be isolated in his own world. It’s all about growth and Sheldon is at the center of it.

Season 12 stars the way every past season does, picking up where the previous one left off, going through the motions of catching everyone up. Around mid-season is when the story starts to steer in one direction more than the others – Sheldon and Amy achieving the highest honor in the science community, something they’ve worked for their entire lives – winning the Nobel Prize. As much as Sheldon hates the concept of change being a creature of habit and order, this prize represents a big moment for the couple, they come to a fork in the road and it’s time to decide which path to take.  

Meanwhile everyone else in the core group take a back seat. While show has largely been able to balance all 8 characters, season 12 puts them in the background as support to Sheldon and Amy. After all, Sheldon is the only character that gets a spin-off. But growth still comes to Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco). The finale gives them a chance – concluding their 12-season arc, going from strangers to complicated to a couple to married and finally to expecting parents. 

After years of Stuart (Kevin Sussman) being written as a doormat, the writing team makes him worth watching and forming an attachment to. Not every small business owner is a creepy 40 something with no prospects. The writers sure had a blast mocking Stuart for his art degree and his financial struggles the same way Sheldon consistently mocks Howard (Simon Helberg) for his lowly master’s degree in engineering from MIT. It’s no wonder Howard and by extension Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) would have to constantly defend themselves and prove to the “smartest guy in the room” that they had any worth. 

The writing will always be the shows biggest concern with how these characters are perceived. The stereotypes portrayed are not only insulting but they don’t represent any of the culture. The writing makes the culture look toxic and gross. Nerds come in all shapes and sizes, intelligence levels and areas of interest. In true Big Bang fashion, a sincere moment can never be just that, a joke must written as if to say look we have to be funny all the time. Every emotional moment is undercut by the canned laughter. At least Leonard and his mother Beverly (Christine Baranski) got their moment that has been building since the beginning. 

Writing aside, what The Big Bang accomplished is nothing to overlook. As a multi-camera sitcom, it became the longest running series passing Cheers by one episode. That’s a lot of Star Wars and science to talk about. When the focus shifted to more adulting topics like marriage and children, what gave the show its foundation, the science and at the time the niche culture gets lost. Dialogue centered around crude humor and sex as if the show couldn’t come up with any original ideas anymore. At least there was no shortage of celebrity cameos to keep the appropriated “culture” alive in the show. 

Now the world knows that basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actor Joe Manganiello are nerds just like the rest of us.

Despite all the underlying issues and baggage and toxicity The Big Bang Theory created, what made the series worth revisiting season after season all starts and ends with the performances by the cast. For 12 years, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, and Kevin Sussman gave their all to their roles. Their chemistry together and the family they built is unlike any other. What these 8 actors and actresses did with their characters made the series finale worth the ride. Sheldon’s final monologue is proof that the character is one of the most endearing to ever be created. In its final season, the show finally lets the characters live in their emotions – something that has plagued the series since season 1. 

I just wish that Raj (Kunal Nayyar) got more out of his character other than learning how to speak to women. Out of the 8, everyone else got their happy ending, why not him?

Created By: Chuck Lorre & Bill Prady

Directed By: Mark Cendrowski, Kristy Cecil & Nikki Lorre

Music By: Barenaked Ladies

Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, and Kevin Sussman

Where to Watch: HBO Max

Release Date: September 24, 2018

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

My Score: 4 out of 5

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