Season eight of the Big Bang theory starts this month, and it looks like there are some big changes afoot for the popular nerdy sitcom. Showrunner Steve Molaro talks a little about what we can expect to see and how the group dynamic is going to change. Check out the first still from the new season below:
First and foremost - what the heck is going on with Penny? That can't be the bumbling blonde that we are used to...this has to be some kind of alternate reality vision, right?
Actually, wrong. This season we see Penny go through some major life changes, as she gives up both her miserable attempt at an acting career and her only-slightly-less-miserable attempts at waitressing to become a pharmaceutical rep for Bernadette's company.
This is huge for Penny, but actually not completely random. As the show has progressed, her character has become smarter, and increasingly disillusioned with her failure to become rich and famous. She's spending all her time with people her age, but who have serious and successful careers, and if that isn't enough to inspire a change, I don't know what is.
From a writing perspective, this also opens us up to huge possibilities. This changes her dynamic with just about every member of the group. Now she and Bernadette are working together again, how will this affect their relationship (especially when Penny doesn't have the best track record as an employee)? Closely related to that, how is that connection going to affect Amy, who will undoubtedly feel left out?
Finally, this is going to make a huge difference in her relationship with Leonard. At the end of the last season, the two of them got engaged (again), but this changes the dynamic to a huge extent. Up until now, Leonard has felt good enough for the "hot chick" because he is smarter and has his life together. Penny's inability to succeed has been a big part of their being together, and this most recent proposal was a direct result of her fears that her life isn't moving forward. Now that she has some financial success, will this affect their engagement? Will Leonard be able to cope with a fiancee who is both gorgeous and successful (assuming that she will be)?
It also looks like we will be seeing more of Stuart, which I'm really excited about because he is one of my favorite under-used characters in the show. With the comic book shop gone (side note: will we see another?), Stuart becomes Howard's mother's permanent caretaker. This opens the door to that favorite of sit-com-gags, the taking on of an inappropriate role. We will undoubtedly see Stuart taking on a father role to Howard, and hilarity will ensue. I'll be honest, I'm a huge fan of this bit, and there is a reason it has been done in every major sitcom - it's hilarious.
Another character we will be seeing a lot more of is the new addition; Emily. As Raj's girlfriend, it will no doubt be an interesting relationship, but I'll be totally honest when saying that I really hope it doesn't work out. Every great friends-in-the-city sitcom has to maintain that one single guy. Friends had Joey, Sex and the City had Samantha, Happy Endings had Max, How I Met Your Mother had Barney, and The Big Bang Theory has Raj. It's always interesting to have that character in relationships from time to time, if everyone is coupled off, the show loses something.
Or could that be where Stuart comes in? He could easily take the role of ever-single (and to an extent, already has), so maybe the writers are switching it up even further. I would rather they not go too crazy though - 6-ish main characters is a good mix. Bring it up past eight, and things just start getting complicated.
Finally, the most important character of all. Where does season eight find Sheldon? When we left him, he was on his way cross-country on a train trip (how else would he travel?), and the new season picks up forty-five days in, and with things not going well.
His belongings have been stolen and he needs Leonard to come pick him up in Arizona. Amy's not pissed at him for leaving, but she's certainly not thrilled that when he ran into trouble he called Leonard instead of her.
Isn't this the second time that Sheldon has attempted to run away and ended up with his things stolen? Seriously, the guy just cannot travel!
It's great to see Sheldon will be back right from the beginning (as if there was any doubt) because he really is the star of the show. Thus far, we don't know as much about his story as we do about the rest, but it's clear that he and Amy will be the central dynamic for change. Their relationship has barely moved for the past few seasons (which is kind of the point), but will this be the push that sends Amy over the edge and away?
Perhaps Amy becomes the new single of the group, or maybe she and Sheldon actually do move in together, as Sheldon will be on his own when he returns.
No matter where they decide to take the show, it's clear that they are going to be taking some bigger risks, and I'm thrilled about that. It's all too easy at this point in a successful show for the writers to get lazy, or to fall back on obvious "changes" to keep viewers interested (which almost always backfires).
I doubt that we will see a Leonard/Penny wedding in this season, if only because their on-again-off-again relationship is so key to the show. Without that, you may as well have Sheldon magically become well-adjusted and call it a night.
Thankfully, we have also had it confirmed that we will be baby-free this season.
A Howard-Bernadette baby will not be happening anytime soon. We're not in any rush to have a baby on the show.
Wherever they decide to go, I'm happy to admit that it is some of my favorite light viewing, and I am so excited for the return.