The rumors that The Big Bang Theory is coming to an end is far more likely to be true than not, if star Johnny Galecki’s words can be believed. In an interview with Variety magazine he said, “I think at this point everyone is very comfortable with 12 seasons being a good time to go home and see our families.”
The question is why Galecki sounds as if he is tired of the series. The idea that there is something beneath the surface of the decision is far more likely. For one thing, CBS is reported to be putting far more time and energy into the Young Sheldon startup and has already renewed it for a second season. Another is that the cast has had several internal conflicts, making work more tedious than fun.
When compared to some of the highly successful sitcoms (CBS has made more than $1 billion from the Big Bang weekly series), particularly those with ensemble casts, the presence of internal conflicts between cast members is virtually absent. The Seinfeld cast decided it was time to move on, and all of them continued with their careers (with the Michael Richards self-inflicted fiasco being the exception). With Friends, there was a time when the issue of salary became a potential issue, but the foursome worked out the situation amongst themselves and continued their success.
The issue of internal feuding about money has caught the public eye with the Big Bang cast. Mayim Bialik had been quoted by The New York Post that Cuoco and other cast members were overpaid. Bialik makes a reported $100k per episode, while Cuoco, Parsons and Galecki rake in $1 million per episode. To put Bialik’s comment in context, she wasn’t making the case that she was underpaid, but that the trio making $1 million were overpaid. That is a significant difference in interpretation, but apparently didn’t sit well with the three
There is another possibility to consider about the money conflict. Perhaps there is pressure from the equal pay for women advocates who are now joining the #metoo movement to make sure women actresses are getting a fair deal from Hollywood. If this is true, it is unsettling to say the least that a group of people who are completely irrelevant to the pay, production, or success of the show will be responsible for bringing to a screeching halt the continued success of the actors and the enjoyment of the show’s fans.
But avoiding the conspiracy theories, the simple fact is that Galecki may be telling the truth. When you consider that both Friend and Seinfeld lasted 9 seasons each, and only 2 shows in television history ran longer than The Big Bang Theory, it may be time to bring things to an end. The show continues to do well in syndication, so the cast’s revenue stream will continue unabated. Galecki is said to be working on another CBS series, so his decision may have been made a year or more ago.
Another question that needs to be answered is whether fans are getting tired of the show. Big Bang’s ratings have dropped recently, so viewer fatigue as well as actor fatigue may have already set in. It is hard to go out on a high note (when the ratings are at their peak) because actors usually don’t know when that time comes. Jerry Seinfeld was offered $5 million per episode to do one more year, which he turned down. Apparently he knew when the time was right to move on, and Galecki may have come to that conclusion long before the Variety interview.
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