Laughing at you, not with you.
I'm a long time fan of the Big Bang Theory, but, I'm afraid I have to report, it's really gone down hill since the third season or so. I deeply regret this,
because when the show started out, it was hilarious, but now I find there are several causes dragging its quality down.
At, Not With:
Mainly, it's that the show is now laughing at the characters, instead of with them. Originally, the show was about science geeks, but done in such a way that real-life science geeks could laugh at the humor. Now, however, it's more about how the characters are freaks rather than people. Before, the show had a tone of gentle self depreciation, now it's outright derision.
The characters have lost a lot of their likeability. They started out as quirky but friendly guys. Now their quirks have taken over, and the friendliness has badly faded. They spend much of their time together
bickering, getting drunk or both.
For example: the character of Sheldon has always been an asperger's kind of self centered jerk who's only peripherally aware that people around him have feelings. But, as childish as he was, he still had some innocent child-like qualities to him. Those have almost totally disappeared, and the writers seem to try harder and harder to find new ways to make the character more despicable.
Science & Cameos:
When the show started, they actually had a science advisor! I haven't checked the credits, but I wonder if they've fired him. They sure aren't using him. Now, what little science-fiction humor there is, is almost purely based on cameo appearances by science fiction actors and actresses. Sometimes it works brilliantly: George Takei was hilarious! The rest of them... not so much.
There are occasional references to science and geekery, but only as a backdrop, and they never form any part of the plot of an episode. It's more like
the background set. In "The Invaders" David Vincent was an architecht, but we never, ever saw him design a house or a building. It's the same with these characters.
In the first and second season, there was a definite direction to the show. Leonard and Penny's relationship was on again off again, but there was a
definite feeling that things were moving. In the third season, the romance bloomed, and in only a very few short episodes fell apart. It was disappointing that they had such a lead up, and then completely gave up on what should have been the climax.
Once that relationship theme fell apart, the show really didn't have anywhere to go, and has been floundering around, directionless ever since. Every once in a while, we get an inkling that they may be moving toward something, but they quickly forget that and go off in a different direction.
For a while it looked like Howard was moving ahead in his relationship with Bernadette, but now Howard has taken an Astronaut position, which will put that plotline on hold. Mind you, Astronautics may be an interesting plot line, but I suspect they'll drop it, as it would mean Howard will have to move to Huston
I think they've really written themselves into a corner here. If Howard fails the astronaut program, it will be very disappointing. If He succeeds,
they practically have to write him out of the show.
Way too much sex:
The character of Leonard was once described as the "Captain Kirk" of the cast. I think some of the writers took that way too seriously. For a while there, Leonard was sleeping with a different woman every week. How many science geeks in glasses does that happen to?
Penny vs Sheldon:
One of the better comedy elements of the show was watching Penny & Sheldon play off each other. The two actors worked wonderfully together, the comic timing was excellent, the interaction was brilliant. Now, the two characters hardly ever speak to each other, and when they do, they have the character of Amy coming between them.
Most of the time, dialog that would have been given to Penny to draw out Sheldon's character, is now given to Amy. Like Sheldon, Amy is played as a humorless deadpan. Watching two humorless deadpans delivering their lines just isn't as funny as watching Penny's reaction shots. The short skit they had with Penny attempting to teach Sheldon how to be an actor was much more funny than anything Sheldon has ever done with Amy.
The Uniqueness is gone:
Sadly, with the science and geek humor on the back burner, and less focus on the science fiction fan humor, the show has lost the niche it started out with. I assume that the writers & producers are wanting to aim the show at more of a mainstream audience, but when you take the flavor out of it, you're left with just another sitcom about very annoying people with relationship problems.
I sincerely hope that the show will get back to where it was at some point. But right now, the show has become painful to watch.
21st Century Fox: The future's so bright, you gotta wear shades