One of the big things on TV in May was the big finale of The Big Bang Theory. With 279 episodes over 12 seasons, it holds the record for America’s longest running multi-camera sitcom. But now its universe has stopped expanding and we’ve finished unraveling the mysteries, as it’s now come to an end.
I’ve not tended to be a fan of live action American sitcoms in general – I never got into shows like Friends or Frasier for instance – but I’ve always loved Big Bang from the start. It has a great mixture of characters, who have evolved considerably over the years, and there have been many enjoyable storylines, which often appeal to the nerdy side of me. There’s also a bit of drama and emotion among the comedy, which has helped to ground the series in realty, and made the characters very relatable. And overall it’s just been a great laugh. So I was very much hoping that it would get the send-off it deserves.
And I’m happy to say that I loved the way they wrapped things up in this last season, with the final episode being very well written and very moving. It’s extremely difficult to end a long-running show in a way that leaves the fans satisfied (as I hear was the case for Game Of Thrones, which I’ve never yet watched beyond season 1). But for Big Bang they pulled it off perfectly, and I’ve seen overwhelmingly positive reactions on social media, which in itself is quite an achievement. It’ll never please everyone, but the majority seem happy. I also think it was a good time to being it to a close. I’d rather they go out on a high, rather than drag it out too long just for the sake of it. So I’m sad it’s over, but I fully respect the decision.
The finale, and the episodes leading up to it, tied up various loose ends very nicely, and threw in a few surprises as well. It was lovely to see Leonard making peace with his mother, for example, a scene made all the more moving and memorable because it ended with over 30 seconds of silence and no jokes. For a busy show like this, where there’s always something happening and as many laughs are crammed in as possible, taking a step back to focus purely on the body language and emotions of the characters was quite exceptional and a brave move. And that gave it all the more impact.
The reveal of Penny’s pregnancy was also nicely handled. It wasn’t a big shock necessarily though, as I had a feeling someone would be expecting in the finale. It was unlikely to be Bernadette for a third time, and we already knew that Amy will have children one day (as noted later in this post), so it was most likely to be Penny to get the biggest reaction. And it was a lovely surprise, I enjoyed the way it was revealed to us. Plus, on a related note, we also got our only glimpse of Howard and Bernadette’s children (Halley & Michael), who had only ever been talked about but never seen (like Howard’s mother).
Raj remained single in the end, which on the one hand is a shame, but it was for the best. I was a bit concerned the writers were trying to rush him into a relationship during the season, but I’m glad they didn’t force it on him after all. It wouldn’t have felt right, and it would have been unfair to break up his friendship with Howard as well.
Besides, there’s still every chance he’ll find love in the future, especially as he’s become much more confident now, after being so quiet and shy in the early seasons. I can relate to him a lot because of that. So I’m sure things will work out for him, it’ll be well worth the wait when he does find true love. Of course, this meant that he didn’t have any particularly big moments or revelations in the finale, but his character did get to spend time with guest star Sarah Michelle Gellar (from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), so that’s still pretty special. Mind you, having never watched Buffy, I would never have recognised her without the other characters referring to her.
This must also be the only show where elevator doors opening can get screaming cheers and a round of applause from the audience, and not because of the person who opened them. That may sound over the top, but long-term fans will appreciate the significance of the lift finally being fixed. It had to happen in the end, there would have been uproar from the fanbase if it hadn’t, so in that sense it was predictable. But we didn’t know when or how it would be revealed, so it was still a happy surprise.
But the main event, of course, was Sheldon and Amy finally getting their hands on the much deserved Nobel Prize, concluding their very eventful story this season. It resulted in Sheldon’s wonderful speech at the end, reinforcing the love that he has for his wife and his friends. His character has developed so much over the years, but he’s always felt realistic and relatable, and I’m delighted that he and Amy were finally able to achieve their dream.
And then the very last shot had the group sharing a takeaway as usual, just like the iconic shot in the opening titles of every episode. This time, however, it was accompanied by an acoustic Freestyle Version of the classic theme song by The Barenaked Ladies, which was a lovely touch. And the band also produced an instrumental Dueling Guitars Theme for the finale (including a short version). It is a great song, so it was cool to hear these new takes on it.
We were also treated to behind the scenes footage and interviews as part of the finale. A special programme called Unraveling The Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell saw Johnny Galecki & Kaley Cuoco (Leonard & Penny) looking back over the series and showing us around the set and backstage. So that was really interesting. I expect it’ll be on the Blu-ray release, along with any other extras they include.
What I was more surprised to learn, however, is that Mayim Bialik (who plays Amy Farrah Fowler) has her own Youtube channel. She uses it to talk about parenting, women’s issues, personal matters, etc, so a lot of it isn’t relevant to me. But recently she’s published videos about dealing with grief at the ending of the show, a video diary of her last week and a Q&A. They’re all interesting, but especially the video diary given the backstage footage it contains.
Of course, the Big Bang franchise isn’t completely over. The spin-off prequel Young Sheldon will be continuing for at least a third and fourth season. But I’m not going to carry on watching it. It’s been ok, and the childhood Sheldon is played perfectly, but I just haven’t felt as interested in the stories, or as invested in the characters, compared to its parent show. And I’ve given it a very fair chance by watching for 2 seasons. So now that Big Bang has finished, this feels like the right time to step away.
I do appreciate the nods that Young Sheldon has given to Big Bang though, particularly in both of its season finales so far. It was at the end of season 1, thanks to the narration by adult Sheldon, that we discovered he and Amy would have children in the future. And at the end of season 2, which coincided with the Big Bang finale, we saw the younger versions of all the friends that Sheldon would go on to make in later life, though he didn’t know it yet. That was a sweet way of linking the shows.
So thank you to The Big Bang Theory for all the great laughs over the last 12 years, and for a very enjoyable and satisfying finale. Who knows, we might see them again one day, never say never. The door is very much open for a future return, to update us on how the characters are getting on, and I hope they consider it. But whether that happens or not, at least we have a huge number of episodes to look back on fondly. The show’s never going to die out or be forgotten, that’s for sure. And nothing could possibly replace it because, as we all know, nobody would dare take Sheldon’s spot.