The end is in sight
Once The Big Bang Theory was the best sitcom on the tube. An episode of the hilarious comedy about a group of uber geeks crushing on their neighbor’s girl was something you could get me out of bed for in the evening. The recognizable elements of geek culture made me laugh out loud and the cameo’s of contemporary heroes were magical. With 11 seasons and 255 episodes it was clear that the world was in love with the social awkward nerds from the series. But the last few years the series has been significantly less funny. Or well, let’s just say it’s not a bag on. The only reason I still watch it is because I’m suffering from a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). A phenomenon that the series itself made fun of. That’s why Jim Parsons seems to follow the advice of his character Sheldon: let’s pull the plug. Last week it was announced that the upcoming 12th season will also be the last. And rightly so, because mine would have allowed the series to end much earlier! Why is this once so great series not funny anymore?
It’s not a realistic representation of geek or fan culture.
However, this is a remark that applies to the entire series and not only to the last seasons. The Big Bang Theory has never realistically depicted geek, nerd or fan culture (whatever you want to call it). It is a superficial representation of what people think geek culture looks like. The result is that the series is full of stereotypes. I don’t find that very disturbing in itself. Stereotyping can work very well in this kind of comedy and The Big Bang Theory deserves enough kudos to further develop these types into unique characters.
Still, the basis is geek culture. And if elements of this culture are not conveyed well then this is frustrating. A group would-be nerd who will sit in a circle and play something that should represent Magic the Gathering? Go away. Why not just show how Magic the Gathering really works? By disrespecting geek culture and the ‘rituals’ it seems more like The Big Bang Theorygeek culture doesn’t take it seriously. While it is the perfect series to teach others about what it is all about.
The scientific and nerdy references make no sense.
One of the nicest elements of The Big Bang Theorywaren the references. Both the pop culture references and the clever references to scientific themes. In the last seasons the writers were rather sloppy with the use of these references. They are only punctuated in one episode, purely so that they can make the reference. But the reference itself isn’t very funny… The joke is pure geek jargon like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones or Star Trek. But just mentioning these things… isn’t funny in itself!
This YouTuber sums it up nicely:
The problem is there’s no real joke. Instead, a number of random pop culture references are mentioned and that in itself should suffice as a joke. But that’s not it:
“The fate of Doctor Who’s Tardis will be decided by a Game of Thrones inspired death match on the battlefield of Thundercats versus Transformers.”
OK. Am I laughing now?
Earlier, The Big Bang Theory had more thoughtful jokes and references had meaning. Sheldon dressed up as the Doppler effect? That’s funny, because to understand it, you have to know how the Doppler effect works. For anyone who doesn’t know, Sheldon explains it. The point is, the act of dressing up isn’t a joke in itself. But that the choice of the costume with the idea behind it makes it even funnier.
The character arcs are fulfilled
Simply put, the storyline of The Big Bang is Theory-filled. Looking back at the first seasons, we see that the characters and their personal storylines differed significantly from the current storyline. They were mostly awkward nerds who were socially incompetent and therefore couldn’t get a girlfriend and didn’t fit into everyday life.
Nerdy Leonard had a crush on the ‘stupid’ Penny. Wolowitz had serious pervy traits, but couldn’t get a girlfriend. Besides, he lived with his super noisy mother. Raj was too shy to talk to women and lived off his father’s wealth. And Sheldon was socially incompetent and incapable of empathy. All of these storylines were completed a season ago. Leonard and Penny are married, but their marriage isn’t really going anywhere. Wolowitz is married to Bernadette, who takes over the role of bossy mother. Raj can talk to women and finally take care of himself. And in the last episode you could see how Sheldon and Amy gave each other the ‘yes’ word that also closes their storyline. There’s not much room for a new story. Maybe a potential baby of Leonard and Penny or Shamy, but I don’t see the need for that. The series was once about a group of nerdy underdogs, but the nerds have grown up, have relationships and are doing very well. This happy ending is of course very beautiful, but not very interesting for another 5 seasons.
In other words: I am very happy that the end of The Big Bang Theorye is finally in sight. For me the writers could have knitted an end to it a couple of seasons ago. But since the last season finale they seem to announce the end themselves. I can only wonder what they will do in the last 12th season. Don’t get me wrong: I would still recommend The Big Bang Theoryals series, but the decline in quality is undeniable. Sometimes serialists need to understand that they shouldn’t unnecessarily milk out a successful franchise when the story is actually finished. It’s a good thing Jim Parsons is pulling the plug. And a good thing too, because there are some interesting rolls of film in his schedule.