The Psychosocial Pull Of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

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From left Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear in a scene from “The Big Bang Theory.”  (Photo credit: Darren Michaels/CBS via AP, 2016 WBEI)
From left Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear in a scene from “The Big Bang Theory.”  (Photo credit: Darren Michaels/CBS via AP, 2016 WBEI)

The series finale of The Big Bang Theory was a milestone, but far from a farewell for the longest running multi-camera comedy in television history. Fifty-two Emmy nominations are nothing to sneeze at, but it was that continuous, twelve-year draw of an eclectic fan base that has created a vortex of enthusiasm that will likely fuel the show’s syndication popularity for decades to come.

“It’s very bittersweet,” said Johnny Galecki about the series end in an interview with Kaley Cuoco for CBS This Morning hours before the finale aired on May 16, 2019. And while the actors, writers and crew wax nostalgic about a project that made them a family, fans will do the same about a show that had reliability to most family members. That’s a lofty task not often tackled well in Hollywood.

Knowing the target audience is critical to driving success for any product, but The Big Bang Theory took an extremely broad demographic, broke it down and targeted the nuances of each subset. Friendship highlights and stressors, romantic wins and losses, career success and disappointments, family fun and friction, parenting joys and dilemmas, scientific brilliance and frustration— all cloaked in comedy with a nod to the sensitive side of humanity. Relatability at every turn for everybody. Top notch writing and acting always get the accolades in show business, but the research behind this show was Emmy-worthy.

Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady might not have set out to create a lifespan comedy, but The Big Bang Theory certainly became that, as the characters “lived” their lives and tackled a decade of milestones reminding viewers that the perspectives and intentions of others are not always what we assume. Meanwhile, science geeks became relatable and Nobel Laureates got rock star attention. Every day of The Big Bang Theory was a great day of exposure for science as confirmed by NASA’s tweets during the finale. 

Ironically, the show that highlighted the fact that popularity is overrated, became one of the most popular shows in television history. Time will now stand still for The Big Bang Theory, scientists will continue discovering, fashion will change along with social values, but the core messages of the show will never grow old. There is no such thing as perfection. Everyone is flawed. There is no place for bullying. Kindness and understanding matter. Friendship and love are important components of our personal and professional journeys.

“Every character does have a wonderful moment. And it’s beautiful,” said Cuoco about the finale.

It is that nod to the importance of every person, along with viewers’ deep-seated need for nostalgia and a cross-generational entertainment bridge that will keep The Big Bang Theory, Bunsen burners and test tubes rolling along in syndication for years to come.

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