Earlier this year, Regina and I commented that The Big Bang Theory may have run its course. Truth be told, I hadn’t seen any of season 10, so, like a good scientist, I got caught up so I could consider all the evidence.
This article discusses all current episodes of TBBT (as of 12/29/2016). If you’re trying to decide if you should keep watching TBBT, skip to the summary.
Raj, Leonard, Howard, and Sheldon started as friends and co-workers with a multitude of shared interests. Each is highly intelligent with aspiring life goals like… being able to talk in the presence of a woman, gaining affirmation from a woman, or having sex with a woman–all of them, of course, except for Sheldon. His multitude of personality disorders makes him socially dependent on others while being oblivious that this is any sort of weakness.
Penny moves in across the hall and is an aspiring actress. She depends on the help of others but is cool with that. She lacks self-worth, which she doesn’t recognize until she befriends the guys.
Penny and Leonard are married. This is the biggest leap the show has made but at least it’s done with. It’s more of a co-dependence than a marriage, and maybe that’s all it’s meant to be. They fill a vital need in each other (there are marriages based on much worse things than being best friends).
Howard and Bernadette are married, which makes all the sense in the world. Even when you think about the sex-obsessed, momma’s boy Howard was in the beginning, you could always see him some day as a dad and husband. Bernadette is the perfect grounding force.
Sheldon and Amy are living together. At the end of season 8 , it felt gimmicky that Sheldon intended to ask Amy to marry him, but Sheldon and Amy’s agency has evolved. Sheldon will always be socially dependent on someone; the idea that that someone could become Amy isn’t far-fetched.
TBBT is holding at a high point in the ratings and viewership. The writers are still in touch with the human experience in the context of these awkward characters. As long as they continue with shining moments like The Locomotive Manipulation (S7E15), The Bakersfield Expedition (S6E13), The Fetal Kick Catalyst (S10E6), and The Contractual Obligation Implementation (S6E18), there’s no reason they can’t continue.
- Amy continues to stand up for herself while being a loving partner to Sheldon. The rose-colored glasses came off and a mutually agreeable relationship is growing. Thank goodness they’ve never given her a makeover since her confidence in her own body is powerful.
- Penny’s made a reasonable career change and it was wonderful to see her in work clothes instead of flip-flops (S10E2).
- In episode 3 of season 10, Bernadette expresses a lack of any maternal instincts. This was so refreshing! It wasn’t written off as hormones or a bad home life but perfectly acceptable wiring.
- Early in season 1 Penny became obsessed with a video game (S2E3). Since then, nothing. She appears to share no geeky interests at all with her best friends. She has camaraderie with this group but there’s not a good explanation as to how.
- Amy’s relationship with Sheldon is very mature but she doesn’t have her own agency. None of the women do. While the guys are being funded by the government, going into space, or doing research at the North Pole, what are the women accomplishing?
- The idea of Amy and Sheldon getting married or living together is less of a stretch than them having sex. Amy is a very confident sexual woman, but Sheldon is a narcissist with no need for personal affection. The writers painted themselves into a corner.
- Raj is the only character who isn’t evolving. Remove him and absolutely nothing about the show changes. He’s very maternal. Give him relationships through charity work—volunteer at the SPCA, sit with dialysis or cancer patients, become a transitional aid for foreign students. Something.
- Kaley Cuoco’s haircut at the beginning of season 8 was adorable.
The evolution of TBBT seems natural and steady. The characters are making new friends, changing living spaces, changing jobs, having successes and failures just like IRL. The people in our lives enrich us. If we let them, iron sharpens iron and we evolve. On the surface, TBBT may appear simple but, for a 30-minute situation comedy, they are executing with finesse.