The success of The Big Bang Theory explained
Iconic comedy series usually last about 10 seasons – think of Seinfeld (9) or Friends (10); until the viewer abandons, the cast is crushed, or the inspiration is gone from the writers’ team. Does the 11th season of the unabatedly popular The Big Bang Theory – now on Netflix – mark the beginning of the end?
Every few years there is fierce speculation about a possible end of The Big Bang Theory. In the spring the 11th and 12th season (which would also be the last season) of the sitcom were confirmed. That happened again after arguing about salaries: the big earners, including actors Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco, until recently reportedly earned a million dollars per episode and handed in a ton per episode to compensate their fellow actors Mellisa Rauch and Miyam Bialik. The latter duo were on the payroll for ‘only’ $175,000 per episode until last season.
Such salary problems are exemplary for The Big Bang Theory: with more than 17 million American viewers per episode alone, they are the undisputed showpiece of cable channel CBS. But everything beautiful eventually comes to an end, as main author Chuck Lorre also knows. With the introduction of spin-off Young Sheldon, about the youth of the renowned idiosyncratic character, he seems to be anticipating a life without his cash cow. Lorre’s latest creation was the best watched premiere of a comedy series on American television this fall. But before the younger versions of Leonard and Penny live on in cheaper television series with a younger, more unknown cast, a satisfying ending must first be thought up for the mother’s series.
In recent seasons, The Big Bang Theory has lived by the grace of flashing light relationships, which have brought with them the necessary drama between the subtle joke salvos. In the 10th season Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) married, and Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) had a baby. After all, the eccentric tormentor Sheldon began a cohabitation experiment with Amy (Mayim Bialik), so that all the main characters, with the exception of Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar), moved into calmer waters from a relational point of view. The petty bourgeoisie has slowly worn in, although the characters – except for Penny – never really jumped out of the band anyway.