Last Time Eating Dinner Together

The double final episode of The Big Bang Theory was the end of an era.  CBS Television’s #1 rated comedy ended as it began …with a big bang.  It was the kind of episode most fandoms wish they could have as a series finale (I’m looking at you Game of Thrones) and it was extremely personal for me. 

When the series started in 2007, I was not an avid fan.  My sister-in-law recommended this show to me, but for some reason I never decided to watch it, even though she knew it would be right up my alley.  I didn’t get into the show until an ex-boyfriend had me sit down and watch the first three season on DVD.  By the end of the first episode, I was hooked.

The show was about to start its fifth season and I had to catch up.  I watched Season 4 on my laptop, though I can’t remember what site it was.  My mission in life was to binge all of season four before the premier of season five.  I succeeded. 

Since then I have not missed an episode and have watched and re-watched the show so much that I can quote lines from it and relate almost any situation back to something that happened in an episode.  I’ve never tried it, but I’m pretty sure I would crush any kind of trivia on The Big Bang Theory.  I even named my first website and my twitter handle after Sheldon Cooper’s famous catch phrase, Bazinga!

The Big Bang Theory and its amazing cast, Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper), Johnny Galecki (Leonard Hofstadter), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard Wollowitz), and Kunal Nayyar (Rajesh Koothrapali) helped me get through some of the hardest years of my life. The show has been a funny, and often heartfelt look into the lives of four epically nerdy friends who all work at Cal-Tech, and the funny, pretty, not at all nerdy, next door neighbor of Sheldon and Leonard. 

Me and Johnny Galecki at a Movie Premier

In 2012, my mother went in for surgery for what the doctors’ thought was a burst appendix.  She was 74 years old and had both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).  Going into any kind of surgery was very risky and it was the first time I was faced with the possibility that my mother could die. 

I drove home from the hospital while she was in surgery because both my mom and the surgeon insisted that there was nothing I could do.  It was after midnight and we had been at the ER all day.  I called my best friend in Portland from the car in tears.  She was able to talk me down into a calmer state and when I got home, I knew I wouldn’t sleep until I’d heard from the surgeon.  I immediately turn on my TV and watched episodes of The Big Bang Theory on my DVR until that phone call came. 

After that, anytime I needed a break from taking care of my mom, or she was in the hospital, I turned to my friends Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Howard, and Raj.  They never let me down.  Soon, that group of friends evolved to include Bernadette (played by Melissa Rauch) and Amy Farah Fowler (played by Mayim Bialik). 

I know a lot of nerds troll this show.  They hate it.  They think it belittles nerds and makes fun of them and their culture.  I disagree so strongly.  The Big Bang Theory revered nerds in all shapes and sizes.  Every geeky pop culture reference or joke, every science factoid, made me so proud to call myself a geek. 

Yes, the argument can be made that all of the people in the show are stereotypes.  But I know a Sheldon in real life; the guy who hates change and is brilliant but so socially awkward it’s endearing and maddening at the same time.  I know a Howard; the guy who is a nerd that’s kind of a perv, but is really a good guy on the inside and makes some pretty funny jokes.  I know a Penny; the former prom queen, possibly a mean girl, who grew up in a small town and came to Los Angeles to be an actress and didn’t make it.  These people exist in my life.  And the characters became some of the only people I could rely on to be there when I came home to an empty house, my cat, and my mother’s bed waiting for her to come home.

I even have a personal connection to the show in a way.  I went Bancroft Junior High in Hollywood, California where Mayim Bialik’s father was the drama teacher.  I didn’t have him as a teacher, but he knew who I was and we all loved him.  I even got to tell that story to Mayim at a Paley Center Panel for the show, which made my geeky heart burst with joy!

The end of this show is like losing my best friends, and my mom, all over again.  And yet, it ended so beautifully.  So many things wrapped up in the perfect way.  I’m going to get a little spoilery, so be prepared.

If you’re caught up with the show, you know that Leonard got the girl.  He and Penny got married in the season nine premier.  Amy and Sheldon not only got married in the season eleven finale, they had a huge scientific discovery that nominates them for a Nobel Prize in Physics. 

Howard was the first of the gang to get married, which shocked the hell out of everyone, and he now has a snarky and adorable wife, Bernadette, and two kids.  Howard even became an astronaut and delivered one of the greatest lines I think I’ve ever seen on television.  It’s in the episode “The Werewolf Transmogrification,” which aired in February of 2012. While Howard is on video chat with his fiancé from his astronaut training in Houston, Texas, he tells her about the survival training he had to endure where he “ate a butterfly.”

It’s all in the delivery.  It’s perfection.  It rivals one of Mayim’s lines in “The Shiny Trinket Maneuver,” where Sheldon apologizes to Amy for being, well, his normal self-involved self, with a shiny trinket. Sheldon hands Amy a bag from a jewelry store and she opens it.  Mid rant, she sees that it’s a tiara, and her reaction is priceless.

The series finale, to me, wrapped up the show in a wonderful little bow that had me in bittersweet tears – sad, because a huge part of my life is now over, but happy, because these characters, my friends, all ended up right where they were supposed to.

But for the fans left behind, we will miss going to the comic book store and hanging out with the store’s owner, the ever self-deprecating and probably hypochondriac Stewart (played by Kevin Sussman), who befriends Howard’s mom in the seventh season when Howard hires him to help with his temporarily disabled mom.  Stuart ends up living in Howard’s mom’s house and then later is Howard and Bernadette’s roommate (and often their childcare provider) for the rest of the series.

Big Bang Theory’s Comic Book Store Set

We will miss Sheldon’s almost friendly rivalry with his speech impaired Cal-Tech colleague, Barry Kripke (played by John Ross Bowie), where Barry constantly tries to insult Sheldon and the gang.

We will miss the boys sitting at the lunch table in the Cal-Tech cafeteria talking about science or whatever issue they have at hand.

But most of all, we will miss the gang sitting around the small, round, glass coffee table, eating a family meal.  To me, this show has always, ultimately been about family.  A family started with Leonard and Sheldon, that grew to include Howard and Raj and Penny, and then Amy and Bernadette.  I’ll miss Sheldon and his spot on the couch, where he sits because “in the winter that seat is close enough to the radiator to remain warm, and yet not so close as to cause perspiration. In the summer it’s directly in the path of a cross breeze created by open windows there, and there. It faces the television at an angle that is neither direct, thus discouraging conversation, nor so far wide to create a parallax distortion.”

Sheldon’s Spot

In this final episode, Sheldon realizes that he has made a family out of his amazing group of friends.  During his and Amy’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech (yes, of course they won!) Sheldon speaks from his heart instead of his tedious prepared speech, where he asks each one of his friends to stand as he introduces his family to the audience and the world watching the presentation.  It is one of the most heartfelt, sincere, and touching scenes I have ever seen on television and it left me in sobbing tears of joy and sadness.  If Jim Parsons doesn’t receive an Emmy nomination for this scene, I will never trust the award show again.

The Nobel Acceptance Speech

More than anything, I will miss my friends, Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj, Howard, Amy, and Bernadette.  They came into my life when I needed them most, and I will be forever grateful for the laughs, the tears, and the camaraderie. 



Jackie Zwirn
Jackie Zwirn

Jackie Zwirn is the recent author of the critically acclaimed “Onion” Best Seller Show Me Where Spock Touched You and other heartwarming tales of Trekkery as well as the author of some of the most popular How-To manuals: Crab Walking Downstairs While Possessed and The Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, & Thief 101 Manual. She also authored the biography of Dean Winchester, When I Was a Demon: Rock Salt, Shot Guns and a Lotta Liquor.

She currently lives in Beaverton, Oregon with her husband, and two cats Mozart and Falcor.

And she never forgets her flash drive. Ever. Bazinga.