On May 16, the series finale of “The Big Bang Theory” aired. I didn’t have time to catch it, nor would I have had the ability to follow along, as I haven’t properly followed the show since high school. “The Big Bang Theory” — plot aside — was an interesting show. I always sort of saw it as the TV version of President Richard Nixon — no one knew anyone who voted for Nixon yet he won back to back landslides. I don’t know many people who advertise the fact they watch “The Big Bang Theory” and yet it ran for over a decade.
Still, once it occurred to me that this was truly the last hurrah for the cast, I will admit to feeling slightly sad, not because of what the show was, but because of what it meant to me. I used to watch it in high school, and started doing so after a friend of mine mentioned his sister worked on the show as a writer. “The Big Bang Theory,” to me, was less about the adventures of Sheldon and Penny and more about the fact that it was a core part of my Thursday night ritual. My mom usually worked late, and my sister was at the University of San Diego, so I was already doing dinner by myself one day a week. “The Big Bang Theory” fit in very nicely in that it enabled me to break the steady sounds of my eating reheated ravioli.
In those days, I would go to my dad’s house every other weekend, so after he would pick me up on Friday from school and take me home, we’d usually rewatch “The Big Bang Theory” with a bowl of hot Cheeto Puffs and a glass of ice-cold Coca-Cola. The aforementioned friend (as well as many, many others) was always willing to watch that show with me during tutorial in high school, but it has been a while since I’ve been a real fan.
I’m going to be a senior in college and the last time I watched a full season as it aired rather than binging it in a day was when I was in high school, and the last time I sat and actually paid attention to a full episode was on a plane. So then why did I care that it was over?
More than anything else, “The Big Bang Theory” ending was yet another thread from my past being closed off. I know that we can’t live in our memories, but it is always nice to have something tangible connecting us to the past. TV played a role in my childhood — I remember watching shows with friends, but a lot of those have ended and we are stuck with reruns, which seems like a solid parable of the times. Now, when I come home for summer expecting to make new memories with my friends, not many of them come back at all. So I’m stuck watching reruns and imagining things as they once were.
A lot of the shows that I used to watch with my friends in high school have ended for good — “Parks and Rec,” “The Office,” “Outsourced,” “How I Met Your Mother” and now, finally, “The Big Bang Theory.” I can’t say I’m unhappy about this — I would rather they end with dignity rather than needing to be taken out back and shot between the eyes. But it is still a bit surreal to know that your entire TV schedule from only a few years now exists only in your memories.
“The Big Bang Theory” represented a consistency to me which is something that only happened because of how long it was on the air for. It was one unbroken thread weaving through high school, family drama and college success, as well as failure. It tied me to my past, for better or worse, and was there for me when I needed it. When I transferred to a new school and had no friends to eat dinner with, I always knew Sheldon and Leonard would be down for Thai (even if it was from No Thai instead of Siam Palace). But eventually, I needed them less and less as I made new friends, and it couldn’t have ended at a better time. Thanks for all the laughs, and laugh tracks.
Anik Joshi can be reached at email@example.com.