3 Valuable Life Lesson I learned from “The Big Bang Theory”
“The Big Bang Theory” was one of the first sitcoms I ever watched. As a teen, I watched a few episodes from Season 5 or 6 and became rapidly engrossed in the oddball characters and story. When I rewatched the show a year ago, a few additional elements about it began to make much more sense to me. Maybe it was because I wasn’t watching it as a teen, just enjoying Howard and Raj’s hysterical conversations, or how Sheldon ends up in rib-tickling-yet-embarrassing situations because of his Sheldony-nature, but rather as an adult trying to understand the more sentimental scenes between the characters, such as Raj’s relationship with his pet dog Cinnamon (still funny), Amy’s childhood (less funny), and Leonard’s distress because of his mother (subtle).
These characters have so much to say on their own that I’m not sure whether 12 seasons were even enough to portray it all (maybe that’s why they went with ‘Young Sheldon’). Though every flashback that the characters recalled was in a humorous tone because, after all, it was a sitcom, however, some scenes do speak louder, touching the hearts of the audiences. Discovering the characters’ relationships has been even more intriguing, and I was astounded by how subtly they outlined them across the seasons in quite a realistic way. They compelled me to think much more deeply than I would have for a comedy, and I gleaned some intriguing ideas that I’d like to share with all TBBT fans.
Here’s what I learned:
1. The dots will connect when you look back
Wondered, while seeing Sheldon and Leonard interact with their parents, that they would have been better off as the other person’s parents? Like Sheldon would have been a fantastic match as a son for Dr. Beverly Hofstader, and Leonard would have been better off with Mary Cooper? Yup, I felt the same way after watching it. The way Sheldon and Beverly always played well together and sometimes picked up on Leonard (much to Leonard’s annoyance), while Leonard always understood Mary better than Sheldon, made me feel this way.
Leonard spent his childhood as a lab rat as his mother, a brilliant neuroscientist, and award-winning psychotherapist, subjected him to different social and psychological studies. She frequently documents them for her next award-winning book on “Parenting.” Furthermore, she always viewed accomplishments to be individualistic, frequently dismissing her son’s accomplishments as not being as significant as her other children’s or Sheldon’s achievements thus never praising him for his success as an experimental physicist. This resulted in his having considerably lower self-esteem and becoming the group’s “textbook-guy.”
Sheldon Cooper, on the other hand, grew up in a more typical middle-class home, but one that was a little devout due to his mother. Being a wunderkind in such a home often infuriated him because his parents or siblings didn’t have much to contribute to his intellectual nature and hone his mind, hence turning to Sci-Fi TV shows and Sci-Fi movies for amusement. His “sheldony-nature” earned him few friends at school and resulted in a lot of sibling conflict (as evident from some final episodes of TBBT and Young Sheldon).
But consider this: would both of them — Sheldon and Leonard — be where they are and with whom they are if they hadn’t had the parents they did? If Leonard had grown up with Mary Cooper as his mother, he would have had a far more peaceful and holy childhood. It could have caused him to pursue a different career path entirely, maybe never even meeting Sheldon. In turn, never meeting Raj, Howard, or Penny either. Hawking knows, what he might have become or who he might have met, but most significantly, he may never have been able to change his mother Beverly, who may have turned her entire family into a gigantic lab experiment setup. And, since we’re on the subject of Beverly, how do you think Sheldon may have come out if he was Beverly’s son? Even dreadful. He would not have learned social etiquette or developed an emotional side if he had not been George and Mary Cooper’s son. He would not have made even the few friends that he did, making him a complete loner and unable to collaborate with his contemporaries later on (for Paintball and Research Papers, likewise). He would never have the instinct to perceive emotions (even a little amount), rendering him maybe incapable of falling in love with Amy. Hell, he would have been a Nobel Prize winner with no friends or peers to thank or be applauded by from the crowd!
That would have been a disaster. And this holds true for almost all of the characters we know: whether it was Raj and his inability to talk to women, Howard and his magic tricks, Bernedette and her lovely-yet-scary nature, Penny and her acting career, Amy and her lonely childhood — you name it.
To put it succinctly: It absolutely makes or will make sense when you look back since that’s when the dots start connecting, making your present worthwhile!
2. Don’t reserve happiness for your future-self
This lesson is more of a continuation of the first. Because the dots join when you look back, you don’t have to be sorry about your present while anticipating the future. You can be content just where you are. That’s what Raj and Stuart taught me, at least. For most of the show, Raj was unable to communicate with women (unless he got drunk). However, this did not stop him from being Raj. He was intelligent, metrosexual, and a dreamer and nothing could keep him from being all of these things in front of the ladies he met (of course, with a little help from alcoholics). He did end up saying a lot of trite and cringy things when he was drunk around girls, but he never worried about what would happen thereafter. As a result, things moved at their own pace until one painful breakup was able to pull him out of his shell and give him the confidence to talk to women without any need for alcohol.
This is in contrast to Stuart, who frequently lowered his self-esteem in front of others, keeping him out of social events for a long time. He would have created successful ventures long ago if he had quit being upset about his inability to earn enough money and live a regular life and simply been the cool artist that we got to see only late into the show.
To again put it in a sentence: You don’t need anything or anyone to be happy because happiness is not a result of some conditions but rather the only condition for the result.
3. Honour the friends and family who have your back
Sheldon’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech gave me goosebumps. Period.
No one expected Sheldon to ditch his already-prepared-harangue, against all his school teachers who never backed him and bullies that troubled him, in favor of an appreciation speech for his buddies in the crowd. Most significantly, he did so out of understanding rather than because Leonard or Amy overtly forced him to do it as part of some social-etiquette lesson he intended to learn. He could have continued with his previous speech, hating on everyone he despised, and everyone would have been fine with it since they knew how he was.
It took Sheldon some time to understand how his friends felt about him and how they put up with him at times, whether it was him getting sick and needing Penny to sing him “Soft-Kitty,” or needing Howard’s help with an Engineering part of the problem, or simply needing Bernedette’s admonishing to keep him quiet. His mother’s religious beliefs made him more of a rebel and a stronger believer in Science, but it also made him benevolent enough to offer someone his special hot beverage when they were distressed. And, while George Jr. was not the perfect elder brother, he did have Sheldon’s back by apologizing on his behalf many times and, in a way, sponsoring his college tuition fees — something he didn’t even take credit for until the very end. Sheldon understood deep down that he needed these lessons and that he would never have gotten there if it hadn’t been for the people in his life.
To put it another way: be grateful for all the asked and unasked sacrifices your peers, friends, and relatives make for you since there’s a decent chance you wouldn’t be where you are if one of those folks wasn’t around.
It’s amazing how much a sitcom like this can teach us. I am willing to do more of such posts for other TV Series and Movies, if you enjoyed this deep dive into ‘The Big Bang Theory’. Here’s a summary of all the lessons I learnt from TBBT:
1. It absolutely makes or will make sense when you look back since that’s when the dots start connecting, making your present worthwhile!
2. You don’t need anything or anyone to be happy because happiness is not a result of some conditions but rather the only condition for the result.
3. be grateful for all the asked and unasked sacrifices your peers, friends, and relatives make for you since there’s a decent chance you wouldn’t be where you are if one of those folks wasn’t around.
What are some insights you took away from TBBT? Let me know in the comments below.
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