Over the years, there have been some sitcoms that have captivated audiences and stood the test of time. From Seinfeld to Friends, Modern Family to The Office, these shows have proven the continued relevance of the sitcom genre through the last few decades. Meanwhile, The Big Bang Theory has quietly turned heads since 2007. Now in its eleventh season, the programme is as consequential as ever, with enviable ratings and endless laughs.
Older eps of the Big Bang have been airing on Channel Nine for a while, with the occasional new episodes. While 9 had exclusive free to air rights, they now share this with Channel 7. The latter’s deal to secure Big Bang re runs have paid off big, proof of the sitcom’s marketability. The programme is also available on catchup TV, and for streaming online. At eleven seasons, Big Bang eclipses Friends in terms of longevity, and likewise surpasses How I met your mother (9 seasons). Throughout its run, the show has garnered a large following, critical acclaim and many accolades. Its cast is at the heart of this success.
As Friends demonstrated, having the right people is indispensable. Through a decade, the six stars had equal billing, and had perfect attendance. There is no doubt that Friends’s straightforward dialogue and plot helped its sustainability. I remember one peer at uni, who was still learning English. When we talked about what we watched, he said he was an old timer as he watched Friends. Don’t you watch Big Bang? I have trouble understanding it, he confessed. You could turn on the subtitles, I suggested. I don’t really get the things, he said. You know physics….He is not alone in that regard. Even Stuart, the comic book guy who is a recurring character, would stare blankly at Sheldon as he blathered.
The story of four scientists growing together is a novel one. The series has gone beyond merely a friendship chronicle, sprinkling it with their jobs, family and love life, zest for movies, comic books, and good food as well as their own struggles. Apart from being successful in their careers, they have unique backgrounds. We would know that Sheldon Cooper is the obsessive compulsive, difficult, self styled genius who never allows anyone to sit on his spot in their couch. He rarely apologises and often suffers from tunnel vision. When he’s locked in, it’s very tough to change his mindset. The little things also bothers him, like a pigeon camping near his window. Sheldon’s character has been so successful that the actor, Jim Parsons, has transitioned into the big screen. He even sung (or lip-synced) the hilariously freaky Man or Muppet, which won an Oscar.
Howard and Raj
The other male members of the gang are Howard Walowitz, Leonard Hofstadter, and Rajesh Koothrappali. Howard is the only one of the four without a PhD, a recurring joke on the show. Until his mother passed away, he was a bit close to her. Their shouting at each other in the same house was both comical and unnerving. Later on he would meet his future wife, Bernadette, and she became part of the gang. In like manner, Raj is also tight with his parents. Even though they are in India, he would regularly Skype with them, leading to some awkward moments. Ideally, his parents would approve of his girl, showing their close family ties.
Leonard and Penny
You could say that Leonard is the most likeable of the group. Though he wears glasses and has a high IQ, he is quite relatable, a consummate good guy. In a way, he is the Ross Geller of Big Bang. Aside from being incredibly smart with a desirable job to boot, his affable persona makes girls chase him. While not blessed with Ross’s towering height, he makes up for it with his genuineness and common sense. He is so good natured that he swayed Penny, the next door neighbour and aspiring actress. While they went on and off like Ross and Rachel, at least their relationship endured til the foreseeable end.
I discussed Big Bang with an acquaintance a while back. I told her that the show is stilted, the predictability stifling. When I told her that the show’s banal location bothered me, she begged to disagree. Just the apartment? How about the laundry room, the stairs, the mailboxes downstairs? Have you forgotten the comic book store, the cafeteria, Howard’s place? Or Raj’s loft, Amy’s flat, and all the guy’s offices? They go to the movies, they went bowling and rock climbing, they drive around. In the ensuing years, more settings were employed, including Sheldon’s train ride. I guess I was wrong indeed; Big Bang is not short on venues to spice things up.
Very recently, Big Bang returned for an eleventh season. The show’s theme has evolved to include families, changing priorities, and parenthood while retaining its thrust of friendship, love, and laughs. This millennial show has revolutionised television, showing how four socially inept, Thai takeaway loving geeks could chase women, make viewers crack up, and sway award giving bodies.