Tonight, one of my favorite TV shows ever aired its series finale and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out an amazing story.
Twelve years ago in September 2007, The Big Bang Theory pilot hit CBS’s airwaves in old standard definition at the 8:00 Thursday night time slot that solidified the best TV night of comedy, continuing a tradition of other great shows like Friends, Seinfeld and Cheers. I was starting my freshmen year of high school and from when the pilot aired, I was hooked on this show about these four nerdy friends and the smoking hot girl that lived across the hall. And so was the rest of the world, as the show quickly became the #1 comedy in television and held that rating for the entirety of its run as the longest running multi-camera sitcom in history.
When we met Leonard and Sheldon in the first episode of the show, they were stereotypical dweebs who although were geniuses, these guys had zero social skills whatsoever. Sheldon was like a robot, Leonard was the typical geek, Raj physically couldn’t speak to women and Howard was the creepiest loser imaginal, who still lived with his mom. But they were all lovable characters with their quirks and oddities. In the pilot, a gorgeous girl from Omaha, Nebraska moves in across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon and flips their entire whole world upside down. The beautiful Kaley Cuoco (at the time only known from her role on the show 8 Simple Rules, that I’d occasionally watch) played Penny, the ditzy hostess at the Cheesecake Factory who moved to Pasadena to try to make it as an actress. The first time the guys meet Penny, it’s love at first sight for Leonard as he tells Sheldon “our babies will be smart and beautiful”.
I watched the pilot and then all 279 episodes as I went from a 14 year old kid to a 25 year old adult. And over the years, the show grew with me. When the show started, although I thought I was pretty popular, played sports and for the most part hid my geeky side pretty well, I was able to relate for some of the stuff these guys did at the beginning of the series. I even used to get early dismissals in high school to be able to watch Steve Jobs present his keynotes every time that Apple released new products and I would get all excited about that stuff. I also didn’t have a whole lot of success with girls, so I related to that too. And I completely related to Sheldon’s ridiculous OCD about everything (similar to Monica in Friends). When I got to college and then later started a career working in IT, I met people that reminded me way more of the geeky sides of these characters, the tables turned and I found myself relating more with my favorite character, Penny and navigating through the minds of these guys.
Over twelve seasons, the characters grew immensely. Leonard not only convinced Penny to fall for him, but to even get married. Penny found her own stride and became a highly driven, successful person working in pharmaceutical sales. The ridiculously awkward Sheldon was able to show his emotional side in many ways that seemed impossible in the first season, met Amy, fell in love and got married. Howard became an astronaut, went in space, met Bernadette, got married and started a family of their own. Raj was able to come out of his shell and find his successes (I do kind of wish they would’ve given Raj’s story a better close and had him find love, but that’s probably my only issue with the ending). The show changed over the years from being just a comedy about the quirks of these four guys and their weird interactions into a show centered around love, relationships and friendships.
The last few seasons of the show kind of dragged on and at times I could tell that it probably had to come to an end sooner than later. Even this final season, while entertaining, was a bit slow and not as strong as the show was earlier in its long run. But tonight’s hour long series finale could not have been any more of a perfect way to close out twelve seasons of such a fabulous show.
Tonight’s final episode started by taking us down memory lane with a flashback scene encompassing all the milestones that the gang went through over the last twelve seasons, leading up to Sheldon, Amy, Leonard and Penny trying to stay awake as they awaiting a call to find out if Sheldon and Amy captured their life long dream to win a Nobel Prize, supported by their two best friends. Amy answers the call, Leonard gets to finally slap Sheldon to get back at him for all his shit over the years and the group celebrate Sheldon and Amy’s success. Sheldon freaks out about change, even the end to a series long gag of the elevator in their apartment complex never working, until he is later comforted by Penny at the old Cheesecake Factory, as she references how much they had both grown throughout the series. To kick off the second half of the two part finale, the writers thrilled fans with what they had been rooting for, revealing that Penny is pregnant even though she was previously against her and Leonard having kids earlier in the series. As throughout the rest of the series, Sheldon shows his selfishness and lack of support for his friends and finds a way that even in his biggest life success of winning a Nobel Prize, has pissed off all of his friends. The rest of the group forgives Sheldon as always, he finally sees what is truly important and rather than giving his previously written, long and self-centered acceptance speech instead genuinely thanks all of his friends for being there for him along the way.
I’ll admit I teared up a bit watching Sheldon’s speech thanking his friends and especially loved his reference to Leonard’s line in the pilot that Leonard and Penny’s baby would be “smart and beautiful”. I loved the entire episode and the way they closed out the series. The perfect end to a great show. I can’t believe it’s over after twelve seasons. The end of an era.
Thanks to Chuck Lorre and the writers for coming up with these characters, these storylines for the past twelve years and this show. And thanks for these actors for capturing the hearts of the audience with the way they played these characters. It was truly a joy to watch. Thank you.
PS: Tonight’s episode of Young Sheldon was cute, especially it’s references to tonight’s Big Bang finale. A touching tribute to a great show.