Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory, a CBS comedy based off of four nerdy friends and their relationships with women, social interactions, and their own geekdom. A lot of arguments have been made for whether or not the show promotes geek culture or uses it as the butt of the jokes, but as the show has just ended their sixth season, I am starting to notice other issues with it than this constantly discussed problem.
Overall, the show is actually funny and has explored multiple avenues of the nerd sphere, but as with most sitcoms, the comedy is based off of situational misunderstanding and focusing on cultural stereotypes, which gets old. The jokes range from everything like World of Warcraft and Star Trek, to quantum physics and psychological experimentation, which is a lot to cover and tends to ostracize some members of the audience, claiming that it is a little too much. The Big Bang Theory also tends to reuse a lot of their situational plot points, especially with the way the sixth season ends. At least the writers have stopped bouncing Leonard and Penny’s relationship back and forth as transparently, and actually allowed other characters, like Howard, to evolve and change.
What I came away with from season six is that it may be time to wrap the story up for these guys. Six seasons is nothing to sneer at, but I think most of the characters have run their course. Evidence of that is in how the show runners dealt with progressing Sheldon and Amy’s relationship, there isn’t much left to do without drastically changing the characters, though the D&D episode proved it could still entertain using that aspect. This was also the first season where some of the episodes really stood out on their own, but several actually felt like they fell flat, leading to what looked like an interesting element but not following through on it. The episode where Howard and Sheldon fight over the parking space fits that. I was hoping to see some progression, like Sheldon actually being convinced to learn how to drive, or further the girls’ rivalry that was brought on by their significant others, but it fizzled in the end.
In re-watching “The Bakersfield Expedition”, an episode that is arguably the worst of the season, I realized after a second viewing how much potential was there to let the characters do something cool and embrace more of the traditional nerdom, but instead the ending had to fall back on an over-generalized trope. To even further diminish that development, “The Tenure Turbulence” episode shows the guys in a similar conflict that the girls don’t become involved in it, except to be used as sexual objects to try and further their chances. Which sucked, no matter how good Penny looked in that dress. I also feel that they dropped the ball with the character of Stuart, bringing him in as Raj’s companion until Lucy was shoe-horned in to give him his own love interest. There was potential there that felt organic in the nature of friendship that the writing staff just dropped to align him with the others.
Though I am a fan, I think there are much better shows out there than The Big Bang Theory. The writers seem to be having problems and things are becoming stale, but the ratings are still up for them while good shows like 30 Rock and Community are either cancelled are struggling it seems. Are people still watching just because they like the characters? I am curious as to whether or not a spin-off could be supported from the show, perhaps one of just Raj trying to find love. That’s silly actually. No one would watch this show without Sheldon. I think this next one should be the last, wrap it all up nicely, but as long as it generates money, CBS will scream six more seasons and a movie!