Last Thursday night, the hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory” aired its season eight finale to over fourteen million viewers. The sitcom, starring Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki, has gleaned quite a following in its successful run, but this past season, it has seen a dip in ratings. Centering around the lives of four geeky scientists, “The Big Bang Theory” showcases the quirky mannerisms of a ragtag bunch of socially inept, yet loveable nerds. The show has drawn both praise and criticism for its caricatures of nerd culture and intellectualism, but does have decisive comedic merit, considering it draws over ten million viewers each week.
Previous seasons have been filled to the brim with uproarious jokes and witty snarks, but season eight seemed a little deflated. The show went through many changes, ranging from Cuoco’s character, Penny, shifting careers from waitress to pharmaceutical sales representative, to the tragic death of actress Carol Ann Susi, who voiced the recurring character, Mrs. Wolowitz.
Amidst all of these occurrences, very few elaborate comic sequences or truly cathartic episodes were established. Much of the season was devoted to haphazardly emphasizing the growing tensions between the characters, rather than focusing on putting the ‘com’ in sitcom, a divergent trend from previous seasons. The somewhat forced dramatization of aspects of the show caused the jokes which were sprinkled in to fall flat, causing the cloying laugh track to become rather ironic.
Normally, “The Big Bang Theory” does a nice job of keeping their characters intriguing, but this past season saw several characters entrenched in ambivalence and clichéd relationship squabbles. Two of the iconic couples on the show are guilty of this fault. Penny and Leonard have been engaged all season, but their constant bickering causes the audience to question whether or not they are really right for each other.
Conversely, the eclectic duo Sheldon and Amy seem to have been made for each other, and their complementary odditties have long been a source of joy. However, the writers have deemed it necessary to demote this relationship from its positive trajectory to one which is quickly beginning to resemble the shambles of Leonard and Penny’s unbalanced connection. The real tragedy of this particular scenario, however, is that Amy, who is masterfully portrayed by the talented Mayim Bialik, has been reduced to a whiny mess who constantly complains about her significant other’s quirks, which she once found endearing.
While season eight had its share of disappointments, it was not without strengths. All of the actors continued to perform commendably, regardless of the restrictive plotlines they had to follow. Jim Parsons in particular continues to deliver his character, a socially awkward, arrogant genius, with artful ingenuity. “The Big Bang Theory” may have reached a dull stretch in its storyline this season, but with the plot twist dropped at the end of the latest episode, there certainly is hope for the future of the show. Perhaps with some fresh writing and a couple new characters, next year’s season will regain the intellectual wit of past years.