As is always the way, when a show is as popular as The Big Bang Theory, it becomes popular to hate it. At one point, the series was the highest-ranked show on TV in terms of viewing figures, yet you’d struggle to find someone who openly admits to liking it. Well, today, let me be that person – I enjoy The Big Bang Theory. It always makes me laugh and, although I’m not going to argue that it’s a perfect show, I think it’s genuinely quite good.
I doubt you need me to explain (as the show’s everywhere) but just in case, here goes: The Big Bang Theory is a sitcom that follows a group of friends who live in California – nerdy scientists, Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj, and their attractive waitress neighbour Penny (as we know, the friendship group would grow over time). It sees them get into scrapes, engage with nerd culture, and find love (and obviously a lot more – it ran for 279 episodes). The show lasted 12 years, running from 2007 to 2019, and was nominated for 46 Emmys during that time, winning seven.
All sitcoms need a solid stock of characters, and this is really where the show thrives
Although the show is an ensemble one, the breakout character is Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons. He’s brilliant in the role, playing an eccentric genius who starts off as self-centred, arrogant and awful, but experiences an impressive amount of character development over the course of the series without ever losing himself. His inflections and delivery are perfect, and he gets the lion’s share of good lines – the way that Sheldon sees the world and attempts to resolve problems is hilarious (episodes like ‘The Friendship Algorithm’ or ‘The Egg Salad Equivalency’ are good examples).
All sitcoms need a solid stock of characters, and this is really where the show thrives. One of the show’s earlier drivers was the Penny-Leonard relationship, an occasionally-mishandled love story, but every character got their day in the sun. Every member of the group was a strong one, and as it grew – most notably with Amy and Bernadette, as well as comic book store owner Stuart – the dynamic just improved. Though it sometimes fell back on certain recurring gags, these relationships were solid and sources of great humour – the Howard-Raj friendship is great, and the Penny-Sheldon dynamic resulted in some great episodes and character moments. These people are obviously caricatures, but they feel human too.
Here’s an opinion that’ll prove controversial – I think the show is funny, and it’s consistently funny too. Every episode is packed full of jokes, from lazy references to physical humour to great character lines, and you’ll find a lot to laugh at. Sure, not every joke lands and there are a few duff episodes, but that’s the nature of sitcoms. For every duff episode, there are a lot of really good ones – ‘The Einstein Approximation’, where Sheldon gets stuck on a problem, ‘The Panty Piñata Polarisation’, where Sheldon and Penny go to war, or ‘The Scavenger Vortex’, where the group goes on a scavenger hunt, to name just three. It’s sometimes smart and it’s sometimes silly, and it always makes me chuckle when I watch – that’s all I need from a comedy, and The Big Bang Theory always delivers.
It’s sometimes smart and it’s sometimes silly, and it always makes me chuckle when I watch – that’s all I need from a comedy, and The Big Bang Theory always delivers
I don’t want to claim that the show is perfect because it definitely isn’t, and it boasts some big flaws. Many of the running gags do lose their charm if you watch often enough (ha, Raj is from India – ha, Penny is sexually promiscuous – ha, the characters said the name of a comic book or sci-fi character). A lot of people aren’t very partial to the laugh track, and it does at times feel old-fashioned. And I really don’t like the way some of the characterisation goes – Bernadette, in particular, becomes very unlikeable and nasty as the show goes on, and it’s clear that the writers really didn’t know what to do with Raj.
But despite some flaws, there’s a lot to love. I haven’t even got into the wide variety of incredible guest stars, the recurring characters (a Zack appearance is normally a good one, for example), the entertaining plots, and its sheer accessibility. I get that it’s popular to go around saying you hate it, but let’s be honest – if you sit down and give it a watch, it’s likely to put a smile on your face.