Saturday, September 26, 2015

'The Big Bang Theory' is headed into dangerous territory and we should be scared

My oh my, what has happened to The Big Bang Theory

Last week, the top CBS sitcom started its ninth season with a pretty depressing premiere: Amy (Mayim Bialik) has broken up with Sheldon (Jim Parsons), meanwhile we rejoin Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) in Las Vegas, where, in the season eight finale, they were headed to finally get married after a year-long engagement. Things headed into rocky territory when Leonard chose to reveal that while on board that ship he was on (the summer between season six and season seven, to be more precise) he made out with another girl; he wanted to start things off with no lies. Penny reluctantly decides to oversee Leonard's betrayal and they finally tie the knot, only to find out after in their hotel room that Leonard in fact works with the woman in question at the university and sees her all the time. Aaand...the honeymoon ended. 

The newlyweds returned home to their separate apartments, where things had gotten pretty bad between Sheldon and Amy. For starters, Sheldon was deliberately left out of the group gathering to watch Leonard and Penny's wedding (they chose a package where their wedding is streamed online), not to mention Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) had all pretty much taken Amy's side and treated Sheldon like, for lack of a better word, shit. Why, why, why, WHY. 

Where's the Sheldon Cooper we've grown to love these past nine years? It was an honourable decision for the writers to evolve his character, he couldn't have remained the strange, anal-retentive man he was in the earlier seasons, but I think they've taken it a step to far. The writers have also subsequently spent the last nine years making us see that Sheldon isn't like other people. Then they gave him a girlfriend (okay), they edged closer and closer to a somewhat physical relationship (strange at first, but okay), now, Sheldon and Amy are no different from any other characters. 

Does anyone remember the Amy Farrah Fowler we met in the final episode of the third season? She was just as strange and socially challenged as Sheldon. They evolved her too, of course, but not one bit of that character we met back in season three and four is visible today. Not one. You can't just write a character one way and then completely drop valid character traits over the course of a few seasons. Sheldon is a different story. While becoming more evolved, we still knew in our hearts and on our screens that Sheldon would always be Sheldon, and that was evident in what we were watching. But now, in the season nine premiere, we see Sheldon as a petty, immature man who has been dumped by his girlfriend. Nothing about him was recognizable to me. Not to mention the way he was treated by Howard, Bernadette and Raj was disgusting; those were Sheldon's friends first and not one of them even liked Amy when she first debuted. Just another example of how unrecognizable all of the characters were in the season premiere.

I'm not saying evolving characters is a bad thing, it's what you have to do to keep things interesting, especially on a sitcom. But there comes a certain point when you have to stay true to the people you created and introduced to us at the beginning of your show. You can't just evolve a character into someone we don't recognize, as they have done with Sheldon and Amy. Not to mention that it doesn't even make sense that Leonard would be the one harbouring a secret about cheating on Penny, as Penny was the one who has had serious doubts about their relationship since, well, ever. As late as season six she was thinking about breaking up with him, but she stuck it out, and that was the last we heard of that. Now we find out Leonard is the one who got drunk and had a moment of weakness? Please. 

I'm not about to write off The Big Bang Theory forever, but I really hope season nine goes down a better path than it seemed to introduce in the season premiere. Catch it Mondays at 8/7c on CBS. 

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