How “The Big Bang Theory” Grows into a Family Show

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By Tyler Mauriello:

Back in 2007, when “The Big Bang Theory” first started, it was viewed by many people as a nerdy television show instead of a family comedy. The popular television series was filled with brilliant minds, such as Leonard and Sheldon playing the roles of two brilliant physicists with their friends, Howard and Rajesh who work in the same department as Leonard and Sheldon. “The Big Bang Theory” was about these characters focusing on quantum physicists and string theory but none of those characteristics helped them interact with people including women. This all begins to change when Leonard and Sheldon have a new neighbor who lives across the hall form them named Penny, a free-spirited beauty according to Lesley Goldberg. As the seasons continue, these groups of friends who are joined by Amy and Bernadette, have become a close family and the show has started to focus on their personal situations instead of playing the role of nerds.

When CBS promoted the show in season one, the word “family” was nowhere to be heard of or seen, according to Chuck Lorre, the genius creator of shows including “The Big Bang Theory”, “Two and a Half Men”, and other hit television series. Lorre said in a THR interview during “The Big Bang Theory’s” 200th episode celebration, for the first six seasons we really wanted the focus point of the show to be about brilliant minds and that is what they led with    Leonard and Sheldon having brilliant minds and having the significant knowledge of how the universe works. The four protagonists in the show do not know how to engage in conversation except when it comes to academic intelligence, such as math, science, and history which can lose a lot of viewers because viewers may be overwhelmed with the knowledge that is being presenting. The goal for Lorre and his producers is to do a television series that is completely different to “Two and a Half Men” where that show starts to draw in the audience at the beginning with Charlie living the bachelor life and having sexual relations with different women by putting humor and intelligence together. But it starts to change for Leonard when Penny moves in next door where Goldberg argues that Leonard can not stop thinking about her because he thinks of her as “whole new universe of possibilities including love” and Sheldon, Rajesh, and Howard being content with spending their nights together playing different “Dungeon and Dragons” and other board games. Also, Sheldon, known as Jim Parsons, plays a character who is stubborn and likes to plan out his meals according to his schedule. For example, instead of a group of 30 year olds going out to clubs or parties, they would follow a schedule that all the members were interested in, that included Thai food on Monday nights, Cheesecake Factory on Tuesdays, comic book store on Wednesdays, Pizza on Thursdays, Chinese on Friday, Wii bowling on Saturdays, and Italian night on Sundays. They have a set schedule because in the first five seasons of the show, they are more focused on talking about their work and other academic criteria which leads to them not engaging very well in conversation, especially with women. In the episode called “The Agreement Dissection”, in season four, Sheldon shows his typical personality where Leonard’s girlfriend, Priya, orders Greek food for the group, but Sheldon is not satisfied because on Thursday nights they usually have pizza. This situation shows how the group, especially Sheldon, do not go out or engage in conversation because he only cares about he wants which does not benefit his social life.

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The show’s focus point started to change after the 200th episode where Steve Molaro took over the duties of running the show along with Chuck Lorre in season six. “The Big Bang Theory” focus point starts to take a turn when they turn their attention to relationships and Leonard, Howard, Rajesh, and Sheldon are no longer rejected by society. They bond together over their social shortcomings and evolve into a close family with the additions of Amy and Bernadette, who have a part of the show since season four. They all become a close family with not just Leonard and Penny being together but Howard and Bernadette forming into a couple along with Sheldon and Amy, but their relationship is described as anything besides sexual. The character Rajesh talks about the show with Lesley Goldberg in an interview and describes its success by saying “the writers do such a brilliant job with challenging these character dynamics and they are still bringing everyone close together, which speaks to what family is, that is why a lot of people watch this show”, which turns out to be true. Under Molaro and Lorre, the show was able to sign a record deal with TBS because “The Big Bang Theory” soared new heights for both creativity and most of the viewers are ages 18-49, becoming the top comedy on television.

Ever since the show’s focus point started to change, the group of friends have become a close-knit family because of their individual relationships. If you have watched seasons six through ten, you will notice that they eat together, work together, and make each other miserable with love where it seems like they almost live together. Lorre describes the best experience of the show where Howard and Bernadette having a baby and Lorre describes the show as being expanding. The heart and soul is that there’s a family that is not even blood related where a lot of times they are families that are related, who do not get along and have their own issues. Besides Howard and Bernadette’s pregnancy, the television series also explores sexual encounters, including Sheldon and Amy, both in their 30s and play the role of never having sexual relations. In an episode related to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, Sheldon and Amy begin taking another step in their relationship by having sexual encounters which stands out to the viewers because Sheldon and Amy lose their virginity. When you hear or see it on television, a viewer may think that this show is not appropriate for children but Molaro argues “that this scene could be a very adult story but I was perfectly comfortable watching that with my kids because it’s neat that we’ve got these characters that are so innocent that were are able to tell the story of two adults losing their virginity in a way that I can watch it with my 12-year-old and it wasn’t weird at all”. Simon Helberg, who plays Howard in “The Big Bang Theory”, agrees with Molaro and points out that the show has a very diverse fan base because viewers can relate to different situations in the show. For example, at least one time in every episode you see everyone sitting at the dinner table as a family and eating pizza, Chinese food or something else and talking about relationships or their personal issues instead of their work or video games. Also, people dying in the show including Howard’s mother, or watching relationships start and end as well as people growing up, according to Helberg, who sat down in an interview with “The Hollywood Reporter”. In an episode called “The Scavenger Vortex”, it shows how this previous nerdy television series became a comedy family show. For example, the group of six team up for a scavenger hunt with Rajesh being the judge and the humor in this episode is extraordinary where Sheldon and Penny team up, a genius with an attractive lady that is not very smart against Leonard and Bernadette and Howard and Amy. In the episode, Sheldon and Penny are trying to assemble a puzzle in order to figure out there first clue, but Penny can not solve it and Sheldon shows some humor about being paired with Penny in a friendly manner where you would see that with a family. The episode continues to show them working together because deep down they are family and even though they find a way to crack a joke in humorous way, they are all there for each other.

Inconclusion, when “The Big Bang Theory” was first televised, it was not envisioned as a traditional family comedy until the producers of the show reached their landmark of two-hundred episodes. The word “family” was nowhere to be heard or seen because of Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Rajesh personalities, but Kaley Cuoco argues that it all changed during the sixth season when members of the group are in a relationship with one another, the characters are having children and getting married. “The Big Bang Theory” tells a beautiful story where it shows the growth and evolution from day one with nerds who could not even talk to their neighbor and now the group of seven are closer than ever.

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3 thoughts on “How “The Big Bang Theory” Grows into a Family Show

  1. This blog make a great point about the facts that when the show first aired it was seen as a family show but over time became that. This is a lesson that can be taught at any time in someone’s life. You don’t have to be related to be family to a person or people. They were seen as a family because people got used to seeing these actors and actresses on a show together for a long period of time. Either it being as a big group of friend or through some of them getting into relationship that lasted a long time or are still going. It’s like when people say blood couldn’t make us any closer . People usually have a friend or friend group that they will stick to the end with and this is the television example of that. Great blog.

    Erick Browne

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  2. This was a great story. While I have only seen a few episodes of the show, as well as a lot of clips of it from YouTube, I can agree that The Big Bang Theory is not targeted towards a specific audience. Both adults and kids could enjoy the series with its humor and the way they portray the relationships between certain characters. While they never mention the word “family” in any of its marketing, The Big Bang Theory never tries to aim for a more mature audience, despite some jokes not being appropriate for younger audiences. This show teaches a very good lesson about family and friendships, and that the friends that you make along the way will feel just like a second family to you.

    -David McInerney

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  3. “whole new universe of possibilities including love” – Ah, come on. He was hot for her. Nor were the characters “content” to play games in the apartment; three out of four of them felt the absence of women in their lives as a gaping hole in their lives. I think you watched the entire show with rose tinted glasses.

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