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JeffKS

My thoughts on TBBT Characters

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Posted

Am I the first to notice that The Big Bang Theory, a well written and balanced sitcom, draw directly from classic TV casting.  Let me explain.  The Big Bang Theory ensemble now has seven main players.  Arguable the center character is Leonard, a scientist’s scientist who is always the voice of reason.  Sheldon and Amy have paired to create an eccentric sort of asexual couple whose male is clearly a leader in his field yet is a big baby mothered by the female counterpart.  There are also two other female characters: Penny is a gorgeous celebrity type clearly not in the same league with the other characters, and Bernadette is a much more down to earth, girl next door type.  Then there's Howard who pictures himself in charge and who concocts wacky plans through which he bumbles through.  Finally, Raj is the luckless loner, the poor guy to who is a little odd but (relatively) innocent and likable.  We suspect he’ll never get the girl.  He's the Gilligan of the group.

And there it is.  Do you see it?   The Big Bang Theory has recast the Gillian's Island characters.  I don't see this as a ripoff in any way, but it might show that there is a successful, balanced formulation to ensemble casting.  Gillian's Island is a television standard, a story for a generation.  Like The Big Bang Theory it was a wacky farce where laughs came equally from situation as from character oddities.  A millionaire who'd have to powerful and confident… with a teddy bear?  Compare that to Sheldon requiring "Soft Kitty" whenever he is sick.  And while Wolowitz and Koothrappali are not nearly as slapstick as the Laurel and Hardy-esque Skipper and Gilligan, is there any doubt the same pair bonding is present.  (Has Howard ever referred to Raj as “my little buddy”?)  Of course, the writing is wittier and we live in a less innocent world so the interactions can be racier. 

Perhaps the show’s scenes of the characters rounding the same stairway over and over in some way represents the confines of the castaway’s island or maybe reflects the repeated escape attempts that always brought them back to the island.   Or maybe I just read too much into it.  To me though, The Big Bang Theory not only pays homage to a TV classic, but answers the question guys of my generation have debated countless times over the 5th or 6th beer…. How does the Gilligan cast hook up?  It turns out the Professor get Ginger and the Skipper gets Mary Ann.  Hmmm… I always had it the other way around.  In any case, I look forward to the episode where Bernadette cooks a coconut cream pie for the boys.

Thank you Mr. Lorre.

 

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2 hours ago, JeffKS said:

Sheldon and Amy have paired to create an eccentric sort of asexual couple whose male is clearly a leader in his field yet is a big baby mothered by the female counterpart.

I'll give you eccentric, but, recent events suggest Shamy are anything but asexual.

joyceraye likes this

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Leonard certainly is the pivot point around which most of the characters revolve.

THIS is why he is still living in the primary apartment.  The other guys come to hang out with him more than with Sheldon and the other apt. doesn't have as much room for all of them.  

Leonard is to this show what Mary Tyler Moore was to the MTM Show: the central character, even if she wasn't always the primary character.

bfm and joyceraye like this

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I see Leonard more as the Jerry of TBBT. The show revolves around him. Even if he is not the primary character. 

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Posted (edited)

I think it's likely perhaps even common sense that they do borrow some ideas or themes from past hit sitcoms, I think they all do it in a way. Of course what separates the great sitcoms from the solid but average ones is they do add their own twist or uniqueness as well and I think this show does that. There has been no show that has had some of the characters in terms of personality and quirks that this one has and a testament to that will be that shows will try and look to copy elements from this show some day or use it for inspiration.

In terms of Leonard being the main character I have always seen him as the 'straight man' in terms of comedy, he's the less quirky perhaps a bit more level headed one that the others play off. Sheldon, Howard, Raj from the outset were more quirky than Leonard, Leonard of course had his King of the Nerds persona and shared interest with the guys but he was more successful with some of the real life opportunities like dating for example. So by that token was he the central character back then? He probably was.

Penny is another 'straight man' type character that the guys played off as well, so similar to Leonard but Leonard also played off her with the the romantic intentions or desire.

Amy and Bernadette then came in and provided more opportunities for interactions between themselves and the guys and also Penny. Penny plays the 'straight man' character to the more quirky girls who have a shared science background.

But going back to Leonard has his role as the central figure diminished somewhat? It probably has as the guys have gotten older and formed relationships themselves, so that link between their flaws and insecurities they have and the access to the outside world that Leonard and Penny provided has been experienced by them themselves.

Edited by Jonny
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On 14.5.2017 at 2:42 PM, Jonny said:

I think it's likely perhaps even common sense that they do borrow some ideas or themes from past hit sitcoms, I think they all do it in a way. Of course what separates the great sitcoms from the solid but average ones is they do add their own twist or uniqueness as well and I think this show does that. There has been no show that has had some of the characters in terms of personality and quirks that this one has and a testament to that will be that shows will try and look to copy elements from this show some day or use it for inspiration.

In terms of Leonard being the main character I have always seen him as the 'straight man' in terms of comedy, he's the less quirky perhaps a bit more level headed one that the others play off. Sheldon, Howard, Raj from the outset were more quirky than Leonard, Leonard of course had his King of the Nerds persona and shared interest with the guys but he was more successful with some of the real life opportunities like dating for example. So by that token was he the central character back then? He probably was.

Penny is another 'straight man' type character that the guys played off as well, so similar to Leonard but Leonard also played off her with the the romantic intentions or desire.

Amy and Bernadette then came in and provided more opportunities for interactions between themselves and the guys and also Penny. Penny plays the 'straight man' character to the more quirky girls who have a shared science background.

But going back to Leonard has his role as the central figure diminished somewhat? It probably has as the guys have gotten older and formed relationships themselves, so that link between their flaws and insecurities they have and the access to the outside world that Leonard and Penny provided has been experienced by them themselves.

I think you are right about Leonard and Penny's central role diminishing, especially in respects to connecting the others to the world. IMO it is mostly true for Howard who got his connection to "the outside world" by Bernadette, which affected Raj too because now that Howard is more grounded he is "grounding" Raj more, hence less need for Leonard and Penny. However, they are still, IMO, what holds the group together. I think this season it became clear that Shamy are less conected. This is not to say something agaimst them, it is just the way they are. Lenny and Howardette had some couple-friends scenes this season (which I loved!). Lenny are the most connected to Shamy out of the group. Howardette more to Raj but he is connected to Lenny too and got more connected this year living with them for a while. So as I see it without Lenny the group may not remain connected. They connect Howardette and Shamy and Raj is connected mostly through Howardette but also Lenny. 

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