I’ve been watching an inexcusable amount of The Big Bang Theory lately, and am now caught up with the present and have to wait for the next episode to hit the web.
Since we’ve also been studying TV structure at school, I have a few thoughts and feelings about where the show is going.
First, let me break down some characteristics of different kinds of TV shows.
- The Sitcom: Focused on same set of main characters, limited number of settings, character development doesn’t last more than one episode (i.e. the character may learn something during the episode, but by the end of the episode they are back to zero), each episode with a different story, and it has to be funny. Examples: Seinfeld and The Simpsons.
- Series: Focused on the same set of main characters, limited number of settings, each episode has a separate story, occasional guest characters show up, may have slow building character arcs. Examples: NCIS and ER.
- Serials: Regular characters who progress through an arc, plot goes through regular arc also, culminating in a definite end. Example: Avatar: The Last Airbender.
So, which of the above categories does The Big Bang Theory fit into?
Now sure, but this is my analysis:
There were two big questions that TBBT started out with: 1. Will Leonard ever get with Penny? 2. Will Sheldon ever be functionally normal? Maybe some sub-questions addressed whether Howard and Raj could ever be normal also.
What have we seen so far?
- Leonard and Penny get together and break up a few times, but right now they are together, and regularly tell each other they love each other, despite a few proposals gone wrong.
- Sheldon has a girlfriend, Amy. Their relationship progresses at a snail’s pace, but nonetheless, progresses.
- Howard is married to a pretty normal woman, forsaking his disturbing bachelor ways.
- Raj can talk to women without alcohol and has even held a girlfriend for a few episodes.
So, are the questions proposed in the first season answered?
Since Howard and Raj are what I’d call secondary main characters, I say their issues are settled enough. Sure, I’d like to see Raj with a long term girlfriend. But I don’t need it to be happy.
We’re left with Leonard and Penny’s relationship, and Sheldon’s ability to be normal.
- Leonard and Penny are together. Why don’t I count this as the question resolved? Because they have a huge history of fighting, breaking up, doing messed up things to each other, and commitment issues in general. This has created in the audience (and their characters, I’m sure) a mistrust or insecurity about the authenticity and dependability of their feelings for each other and commitment level. Personally, and I think I’m not alone in this, I feel that the issue of their relationship will not be resolved until they can get married. Even living together isn’t enough. Marriage will show once and for all that they’ve both gotten over the things holding their relationship back (or at least, the Hollywood “happily ever after” message of marriage).
- Sheldon’s girlfriend, Amy, has accomplished great things concerning Sheldon’s normalcy. Through her influence, he can be humble, maybe even kind, read social contexts (better, at least), and has come so far as enjoying kissing (through a series of very long, painful baby steps). Since the show has turned in a direction centered on relationships rather than nerdiness, I think that the resolution of this question can only come through Sheldon and Amy consummating their intimacy. Personally, I would love to see them save themselves for marriage. I think it would be much more fitting to Sheldon’s extremely conservative background and nature, but I admit it would be surprising considering how all their friends are obsessed with sex.
My conclusion is that if both of these things end up happening, the show is over. They may continue to make more seasons, but it will be one of those cases when everyone thinks “they should’ve stopped after season seven.” They may try to shift focus onto other characters, but that will basically make it into a new show which will have to find new fans. And personally, my loyalty lies with Sheldon.
In googling pictures for this post, I ran across a tumblr called shamyconfessions, which of course, I promptly started following. I found several people who feel similarly about Shamy, or at least recognize what a weighty decision the writers have about the future of this relationship.
And here’s one more for good measure…just because I completely agree with it.
End of post before I start fangirling too much.