American Comfort TV: The Big Bang Theory

Written by Emily Murray

We all have a TV show or series that we love, a show that we turn to when we’re feeling lost or sick or tired or heartbroken. Somehow, these shows manage to support us through difficult times in our lives, and we never tire of them. For Kettle’s Film Editor Emily Murray, it is the brilliant The Big Bang Theory.

The Big Bang Theory had a difficult birth. The initial pilot, developed in 2006, was very different from the show that made it to our television screens. The only two characters kept from the initial pilot were Leonard and Sheldon, the two brilliant scientists who live together and worked their ways into the hearts of millions around the world. The initial pilot featured two female leads, but after test audiences reacted negatively to the females the series was not picked up.

Thankfully, though, creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady were given a second chance, a rare opportunity in a hardened television industry. They developed a second pilot in its final format and a series was ordered in 2007. No-one would have thought a sitcom about a group of nerdy scientists and the blonde waitress who lives across the hall would have so much success. But now, in 2015, it is one of America’s most popular shows, has won a multitude of awards and earns the three principal actors, Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco, $1 million an episode.

And it still has a whole future ahead of it.

Filling a hole in TV viewing

When I came home from secondary school I used to go straight to the television and turn on E4 for the classic American sitcom Friends. When the show was taken off E4 I was heartbroken and lost, but then the wonderful The Big Bang Theory came to my rescue. I was given a new show that was, perhaps, even more enjoyable than Friends. It wasn’t long before I became addicted and got all my friends and family addicted too. Whenever it’s on E4, I’m there, especially if I am in need of a Sheldon Cooper fix.

Winning formula

As with all the best sitcoms what makes the show work is its dynamics, particularly between the characters. First, there’s the infamous Sheldon Cooper, a scientific genius with an incredible lack of social skills and understanding of humanity. This provides much of the humour, but the rare moments when he shows his human side also makes it touching, giving a raw emotional edge that strikes a chord with the audience.

Sheldon lives with Leonard, another scientist who is in love with Penny, the blonde waitress who lives across the hall. Leonard’s own awkwardness and his budding romance with Penny also makes the audience laugh.

Also part of the ensemble are Howard and Raj, two other scientists working at the university, whose ‘bromance’ is another main storyline. Howard is married to Bernadette, a squeaky biologist with a fierce side who befriends Penny. Amy, Sheldon’s girlfriend who adores Little Horse on the Prairie, is also part of th . The characters are easy to engage with and the show’s writers and cast have managed to create a perfect harmony between laugh-out-loud comedy, charm, heart and touching drama.

Best bits

There are limitless classic moments from the show’s eight seasons, some funny, some tearful and some just completely outrageous. These are my personal highlights, in descending order:

5. Raj presents his scavenger hunt


4. Howard’s robotic arm


3. Sheldon in the ball pit – BAZINGA!


2. Sheldon spanks Amy


1. Sheldon hugs Penny


Just remember – ‘It all started with the big BANG!’

Kettle mag, America season