Two nerdy physicists share an apartment and an unlikely friendship with their beautiful neighbor with whom one of them is infatuated. Like the universe after the big bang, the show's popularity expanded, thanks to breakout star Jim Parsons, along with the chemistry among the friends and the developing romance between Leonard and Penny. The addition of Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik in later seasons also enhanced the stories and relationships of the leads.
On March 13, 2017, CBS ordered the spin-off Young Sheldon series. Jon Favreau directed and executive produced the pilot. Created by Lorre and Molaro, the series follows 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper as he attends high school in East Texas. Alongside Armitage as 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper and Perry as Mary Cooper, Lance Barber stars as George Cooper, Sheldon's father; Raegan Revord stars as Missy Cooper, Sheldon's twin sister; and Montana Jordan as George Cooper Jr., Sheldon's older brother. Jim Parsons reprises his role as adult Sheldon Cooper, as narrator for the series. Parsons, Lorre, Molaro and Todd Spiewak will also serve as executive producers on the series, for Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television. The show's pilot episode premiered on September 25, 2017. Subsequent weekly episodes began airing on November 2, 2017 following the broadcast of the 237th episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Sheldon cannot find the perfect wedding date and begins talking in his sleep, adopting the persona of a laid-back person who goes with the flow. Amy and Penny believe that his subconscious mind is trying to tell him to be more relaxed; his attempt to be so while wearing flip-flops ends in disaster. He decides to leave all the wedding planning to Amy while he wears a Star Trek uniform underneath his tuxedo. Meanwhile, Raj and Stuart both become interested in Bernadette's new coworker Ruchi. While she likes them both as friends, she does not want a relationship with anyone.
Howard and Bernadette learn their second child will be a boy, leading Howard to doubt whether he can be a good father to a son. He and Sheldon go out in the desert to test launch a model rocket, but it explodes, causing him further doubt. On the way home, Howard does a good job coaching Sheldon to drive them home, for which Sheldon tells him he will be a good teacher to his son. Leonard's mother Beverly begins talking to Penny as a friend and confidant, troubling Leonard, especially when he learns that Beverly told Penny that she was proud of her, a level of praise she never bestowed upon Leonard himself. When Leonard confronts Beverly, he is touched when she says that of all of her children's spouses, Penny is the one by whom she is most impressed and that, for this, she is indeed proud of him. Meanwhile, Raj helps Bernadette turn baby girl clothes into boy ones.
In November 2016, it was reported that CBS was in negotiations to create a spin-off of The Big Bang Theory centered on Sheldon as a young boy. The prequel series, described as "a Malcolm in the Middle-esque single-camera family comedy" would be executive-produced by Lorre and Molaro, with Prady expected to be involved in some capacity, and intended to air in the 2017–18 season alongside The Big Bang Theory. The initial idea for the series came from Parsons, who passed it along to The Big Bang Theory producers. In early March 2017, Iain Armitage was cast as the younger Sheldon, as well as Zoe Perry as his mother, Mary Cooper. Perry is the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who portrays Mary Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.
After the birth of Michael, Howard and Bernadette are unsure who should stay home with the kids. Howard decides to look after the kids one day to show he has what it takes to care for them. While Bernadette falls back in love with her job on a trip to the office, Howard is quickly tired and realizes he might not have what it takes to be a stay-at-home dad. Howard and Bernadette realize neither them is ready to give up their job.
Initial reception for the series was mixed. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 52% approval rating for the first season based on reviews from 23 critics, with an average rating of 5.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Big Bang Theory brings a new class of character to mainstream television, but much of the comedy feels formulaic and stiff." On Metacritic, the season holds a score of 57 out of 100, based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Later seasons received more acclaim and in 2013, TV Guide ranked the series #52 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.
Howard dresses as Sheldon for Halloween at work, hurting Sheldon's feelings. When Howard does not apologize, Amy and Sheldon dress as Bernadette and Howard at Penny and Leonard's party, angering Bernadette. Sheldon and Bernadette later bond over their painful childhood memories. Leonard is upset that Penny does not seem to remember that their first kiss was on Halloween. Penny later admits she does remember, but does not like to think of their first kiss as an unromantic drunken hookup. She likes to imagine their first kiss was one they shared on Leonard's birthday, which pleases him.
When Bernadette tells Howard that she is expecting again, he is once again floored with fear about raising another child, particularly when he learns it’s a boy. Howard, who isn't athletically inclined, worries he will not be able to relate to a son who might one day expect his dad to be the stereotypical father. Despite his best attempts to get out of it, Howard has a vasectomy to avoid any future surprises and is placed on bed rest, joining his pregnant wife at home.
Keith Carradine has appeared in three episode as Penny's father, Wyatt, first in Season 4. Katey Sagal, who played the on-screen mother of Kaley Cuoco's character in the 2002-2005 sitcom 8 Simple Rules, has appeared as Penny's mother in one episode of The Big Bang Theory. Jack McBrayer has appeared in one episode of The Big Bang Theory as Penny's brother, Randall.
Two physicists from Chicago, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Pemberton, accidentally prove Sheldon and Amy's super-asymmetry theory. This puts them on track for a Nobel Prize, but Leonard points out they tend to go to the experimental scientists who prove a concept instead of theorists like Sheldon who come up with it. Meeting with them, they tell Sheldon they are willing to share the Prize but only three names can be on the submission, and they want to cut Amy out. Amy does not want to prevent Sheldon's lifelong dream, but he goes to President Seibert who agrees to fight for Amy on their behalf. Meanwhile, Bernadette's drug has been approved and she wants to promote Penny to lead the marketing team. Penny resists, knowing Bernadette's attitude at work and doubting her own inexperience to take the responsibility, but Bernadette uses reverse-psychology to get Penny to take the job. Penny mirrors Bernadette's commanding style to get the other employees in line, impressing Bernadette.
Wil Wheaton brings William Shatner on his Professor Proton show to meet Sheldon, who gets so excited that he vomits on Shatner. Going to Wil to apologize, he finds Wil hosts a Dungeons & Dragons group with his celebrity friends including Shatner. Finding out Stuart is in the group and never told them, the guys make Stuart panic and quit. Wil secretly invites Leonard who discovers that the group also includes Shatner, Kevin Smith, Joe Manganiello and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Leonard tells Penny, who tells Amy and Bernadette, all three women having a crush on Manganiello. Because of that indiscretion, Wil kicks out Leonard and admonishes the guys for using him for his connections, and says that one of the worst things about being a celebrity is not knowing whether someone will like him for himself. To apologize, the guys invite Wil to play D&D with them at Leonard’s apartment, but Wil, secretly in the middle of a game with Penny, Amy and Bernadette and the group, politely turns them down, before allowing the girls to send them a photo of the events as payback.
Laura Spencer as Emily Sweeney (recurring seasons 7–8, 10, starring season 9): A dermatologist at Huntington Hospital. Emily went to Harvard and delights in the macabre and states that she likes her job because she can cut things with knives. Prior to meeting Raj, Emily was set up on a blind date with Howard. After finding Emily's online dating profile, Raj has Amy contact her as his wingman instead. Their relationship becomes exclusive, but Raj later breaks up with Emily when he becomes infatuated with the bartender Claire (Alessandra Torresani).
In scenes set at Howard's home, he interacts with his rarely-seen mother (voiced by Carol Ann Susi until her death) by shouting from room to room in the house. She similarly interacts with other characters in this manner. She reflects the Jewish mother stereotype in some ways, such as being overly controlling of Howard's adult life and sometimes trying to make him feel guilty about causing her trouble. She is dependent on Howard, as she requires him to help her with her wig and makeup in the morning. Howard, in turn, is attached to his mother to the point where she still cuts his meat for him, takes him to the dentist, does his laundry and "grounds" him when he returns home after briefly moving out. Until Howard's marriage to Bernadette in the fifth-season finale, Howard's former living situation led Leonard's psychiatrist mother to speculate that he may suffer from some type of pathology, and Sheldon to refer to their relationship as Oedipal. In season 8, Howard's mother dies in her sleep while in Florida, which devastates Howard and Stuart, who briefly lived with Mrs. Wolowitz.
Producers, writers and others, including recurring guest star Wil Wheaton, joined the festivities on set and — hardly a spoiler alert — more laughing, crying and hugging ensued. Lorre embraced a happy Parsons, then moved on to each cast member as if it were a reception line. Galecki shared long, emotional hugs with his colleagues. After trying to keep their emotions under control for so long, it was finally time to just let go.
By season seven, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco were also receiving 0.25% of the series' back-end money. Before production began on the eighth season, the three plus Helberg and Nayyar, looked to renegotiate new contracts, with Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco seeking around $1 million per episode, as well as more back-end money. Contracts were signed in the beginning of August 2014, giving the three principal actors an estimated $1 million per episode for three years, with the possibility to extend for a fourth year. The deals also include larger pieces of the show, signing bonuses, production deals, and advances towards the back-end. Helberg and Nayyar were also able to renegotiate their contracts, giving them a per-episode pay in the "mid-six-figure range", up from around $100,000 per episode they each received in years prior. The duo, who were looking to have salary parity with Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco, signed their contracts after the studio and producers threatened to write the characters out of the series if a deal could not be reached before the start of production on season eight. By season 10, Helberg and Nayyar reached the $1 million per episode parity with Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco, due to a clause in their deals signed in 2014.
In the season eight finale, Sheldon and Amy get into a fight about commitment on their fifth anniversary. Amy tells Sheldon that she needs to think about the future of their relationship, unaware that Sheldon was about to propose to her. Season nine sees Sheldon harassing Amy about making up her mind until she breaks up with him. Both struggle with singlehood and trying to be friends for the next few weeks until they reunite in episode ten and have sex for the first time on Amy's birthday.
Kaley Cuoco's life after The Big Bang Theory is going to be animated. Cuoco has signed on to voice and executive produce DC Universe's new Harley Quinn series. She'll play the titular character in the new streaming series targeted toward mature audiences. In 2017, she got the rights to The Flight Attendant, a miniseries based on the book of the same name, which she was poised to star in. The Flight Attendant follows Cassandra Bowden, a flight attendant, who wakes up, hungover, in her hotel room with a dead body next to her. She goes about her day and heads back to New York. is she the killer? That's what she wonders. "This is the first time I have a project that I'm kind of nurturing from the beginning, so it's been a really interesting experience," she told PopSugar in March. "It's got a lot of aspects. It's very sexy. It's a really well-written book, which is why I wanted to option it. I'm ready to bring the character to life."
With Melissa Rauch saying goodbye to Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz after joining the show in season three and becoming a series regular in season four, she's already begun to carve out new gigs. Not only did her indie film Ode to Joy make its film festival debut this part April, but she has another film, Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat co-starring none other than Meryl Streep, in post-production, due for a 2019 release. While wrapping up filming on TBBT, she landed her next TV gig, playing Shira, wife of Paul Scheer's Keith on Showtime's recent Wall Street comedy Black Sunday. With the show recently renewed for a second season to debut on the cable net in 2020, it's looking likely she'll be back with greater availability.
Showrunner Steve Molaro, who took over from Bill Prady with the sixth season, credits some of the show's success to the sitcom's exposure in off-network syndication, particularly on TBS, while Michael Schneider of TV Guide attributes it to the timeslot move two seasons earlier. Chuck Lorre and CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler also credit the success to the influence of Molaro, in particular the deepening exploration of the firmly established regular characters and their interpersonal relationships, such as the on-again, off-again relationship between Leonard and Penny. Throughout much of the 2012–13 season, The Big Bang Theory placed first in all of syndication ratings, receiving formidable competition from only Judge Judy and Wheel of Fortune (first-run syndication programs). By the end of the 2012–13 television season, The Big Bang Theory had dethroned Judge Judy as the ratings leader in all of syndicated programming with 7.1, Judy descending to second place for that season with a 7.0. The Big Bang Theory did not place first in syndication ratings for the 2013–14 television season, beaten out by Judge Judy.
Sheldon is still despondent over the disproving of his and Amy's theory on asymmetry. Leonard brings out a VHS tape of a pep talk that Sheldon recorded as a boy, but it turns out that his father had recorded a long-ago football game over it. Sheldon, however, is buoyed by a halftime pep talk his father gave the team, realizing he and his father had more in common than he previously thought. This causes Amy to view asymmetry and symmetry in another manner and they decide their theory may not be dead after all. Bernadette finds an old tape of Howard preparing to audition for The Magic Castle. She insists he fulfill his dream and audition with her as a coach, drawing on her beauty pageant experience. Howard eventually decides to audition his own way, and promptly botches his chances by accidentally destroying a judge's Rolex.
Professor Proton, Sheldon's favorite childhood show, is being rebooted. After unsuccessfully auditioning for the part, he goes to Wil Wheaton for acting tips for his second audition. However, Sheldon is later dismayed when Wil is offered the role instead. Talking it over with Arthur in his dreams, he is still upset to see his idol replaced and considers Wil an enemy again. Meanwhile, Howard gets a vasectomy while Bernadette is on bed rest. Penny offers to take care of Halley for them, but they insult her by expecting her to be irresponsible. Halley ends up saying her first word by calling Penny "Mama."
Sheldon and Amy's wedding day arrives, with many friends and family attending, including Amy's domineering mother (Kathy Bates) and quiet father (Teller); Sheldon's mother Mary, brother George, and sister Missy, who is pregnant with her second child and separated from her husband; and Mark Hamill, who replaces Wil Wheaton as officiant as a favor to Howard who returned his lost dog. Sheldon cannot get his bow-tie to be symmetrical and conversations with Amy and his mother give him an epiphany about superasymmetry. Sheldon and Amy, along with Leonard, get caught up figuring out the math of the theory during the wedding ceremony, making Hamill take Star Wars questions to stall for time. Penny retrieves the couple, who then decide that they have the rest of their lives to make science together. Amy and Sheldon then express their vows. Amy recites a set of heartfelt vows, leaving Sheldon initially at a loss for words, before he reciprocates her loving words. They are pronounced as husband and wife.
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