The Big Bang Theory: How it makes me a better writer

I have to admit, when The Big Bang Theory sitcom came to CBS, I didn’t watch it because I don’t believe in the BBT and I figured it would be a show slamming  God all the time. I believe God created the world and man and all that jazz. 


But my husband loves TV like I love books and so one night when we’d run out of a things to watch, we decided to Netflix it. And it may now possibly be one of my favorite sitcoms (turns out it doesn’t slam God) right beside Rules of Engagement and Modern Family. Go ahead and judge. I’m sure someone would be happy to remove the large beam from your eye after you’ve finished reading this post with the other one.

Here’s why The Big Bang Theory works.
1. The writers do their homework. 
Penny in the middle, the average bear of the show

BBT is about a group of nerds/geniuses who work together and hang out. Because their brilliant, they talk sometimes, ok often, so far above the average person’s head it’s ridiculous.

BUT…

Smart writers add average people who expect them to dumb it down. Which they do. And then I can understand and the comedy is so brilliant that it works. It flows seamlessly without me realizing that they are actually letting the audience in on what the terms mean. 

2. The characters are all geniuses, but they have distinct personalities and quirks.

Smart writers have given each character a unique personality to go with their brilliant minds. And they never forget and have them act out of character.

Jim Parsons “Sheldon Cooper”
totally deserved this award!

My favorite character, probably, is Sheldon. He’s extremely OCD, so when he knocks on a door, he has to do it three times. Yet has an episode went by that he didn’t do this. I have to remember when I give my character a particular quirk, I need to make sure it’s consistent throughout the story.

He has house rules and they are always coming up. He needs to sit in a particular place on the couch. He has a particular daily routine and nightly meal and he hates to veer off it. Some of his quirks are so silly, but because he exhibits them all the time, it’s believable. 

Raj can’t speak to women unless he has alcohol in his system. 

Howard is a Jewish man who hasn’t forced his mother to cut the apron strings and he always wears a dickey under his shirt. So Eddie-like from Christmas Vacation. And you can always count on his comments to have more than one meaning. 😉

And Leonard has more social skills than the others, but he’s not without issues–one being he’s lactose intolerant. You’ll never catch him eating/drinking dairy.

3. Romantic tension is the right amount.
Leonard is crazy about Penny and Penny ends up liking Leonard. They get together. They get broken up. They move on, but you know they still have it for each other. They didn’t get together too soon, but I’m not like, “Okay already, it’s time to get them back together.” Like Rick Castle and Kate Beckett. I’m so ready for them to get together! 🙂

I’ve learned a few things as a writer from watching Big Bang, but mostly it’s a hilarious show that makes me laugh. And I’m all about some ha-ha’s.

Readers: What TV show has you in stitches and why?


Writers: What TV show do you love that has helped you with some writing techniques?

21 thoughts on “The Big Bang Theory: How it makes me a better writer

  1. Modern Family has me snorting – love that show! Castle and Beckett, another of my favs. Great post today, I'm pulling out my highlighter and making sure I've carried my MC's annoying habits all the way through, pretty sure she dropped them about 1/2 way:)

     
     
  2. Awesome post, Jessica! You make me want to watch the show. I've never seen it.

    My TV candy comes in the form of Vampire Diaries. But you knew this. 🙂

     
     
  3. LOL Katie – you make me giggle.

    My TV shows are so far removed from my writing it's scary. I'm a Criminal Minds, Person of Interest type of girl and I write Historical Romance – with a twist of suspense, so I suppose, maybe they help a bit 😉

    Oh Jessica, you sinner, you. I can't believe you watch such trash 😉
    (as I sheepishly admit to having a Glee fettish)

     
     
  4. I definitely need to check out that show. I love shows that make me laugh. Modern Family is my favorite comedy right now. And I absolutely love, love shows with brilliant writing about average people.

    Hubby is home today, and we are watching the first season of Justified. It's one of my favorite shows in recent years with brilliant writing.

    This is a great post, Jessica. You're right. TV and movies are always giving me ideas on how to improve characterization.

     
     
  5. For me it's definitely Castle. The combination of great writing, a serious show, humor, creative storylines shows the right balance that we strive for in our manuscripts. I love it.

     
     
  6. Hubby and I love the BBT. I've laughed out loud on more than one occasion at Sheldon.

    "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur…"

     
     
  7. I've always had the same aversion to the show you did. Since you say it doesn't support the BBT, maybe I'll DVR an episode.

     
     
  8. Modern Family is my favorite funny these days. And of course, you've got to love Castle.

    I find myself being very critical of all crime shows re. the realism. Even simple stuff like having female detecives on the job wearing spiked heels and showing several inches of cleavage.

     
     
  9. I'm liking this post, Jessica! It's so cool that we can get inspiration from so many things.

    Now you can laugh at me, but I get inspiration from Transformers: Prime. Yes, it's a cartoon, but a very edgy, well-written one. I study the characterizations. Children's programs have to keep characters acting the same, time and time again. Even as they grow, they must retain those traits and mannerisms that endure them to the viewers. I think that's a good lesson to apply to writing. It's easy to have our characters fall out of, well, character, and do things just so we can make the story move along. However, a successful story has characters growing and enhancing, not doing a complete 180.

    Have a great weekend!

     
     
  10. Hey everyone! I'm seeing a running trend of Modern Family fans. Me too! I'm also a Castle fan as well.

    Brandie, I'm cracking up at Transformers, but I can relate! I love watching Scooby Doo for mystery writing!

     
     
  11. I love Big Bang, Modern Family & Community: 3 distinct types of comedy. It amazes me how Big Bang writers make such anti-social characters so endearing and relatable. Great post!

     
     
  12. Hi Jessica! You were describing me and my husband when you said your husband watches TV shows like you read books 🙂 LOL!

    As a writer, my favorite TV show to study is the old British sitcom, "Keeping Up Appearances". I LOVE Hyacinth, she always cracks me up with her quriks and oddities!

     
     
  13. I haven't seen this show yet, but your post reminded me of a workshop I attended at ACFW. Janice Thompson did a sesson on humor and talked about playing up character quirks to the nth degree. The show that came to mind during her talk was Seinfeld. I LOVE that show! Sounds like this show plays up those same strengths in characterization.

     
     
  14. OhManOhManOhMan, we're like sisters! I didn't watch BBT for exactly the same reason, then I stumbled upon it in reruns, and I LOVE that show. In fact, I'm fixing to watch a rerun in about 30 mins. 😀

     
     
  15. I've never seen this show! I need to Netflix it! I love comedies like that.

    I don't watch a lot of written TV shows. I watch a lot of HGTV and then American Idol soon.

    But The Office is one show I watch a lot in reruns. (Since Steve Carell left it hasn't been the same)

     
     
  16. Oh, Jessica, you said it, Kate and Rick Castle really do need to get together. That's the one that has me in stitches. I've never seen this BBT show. I'll have to look it up some time.

     
     
  17. I've heard great things about BBT but have never watched it. Will definitely check it out. I loved According to Jim, which isn't on anymore. Everybody Loves Raymond was also a fave. Great post!

     
     
  18. I haven't actually seen this show, but I don't watch my TV. I can't commit to following anything that has a schedule. But I will look it up on Netflix and Hulu.

    Glad to find your blog.

     
     
  19. Guys don't miss the real comedy, real fun that air for half an hour on TV every week. This is the best sitcom on TV. I Watch The Big Bang Theory Episodes On TV and on net too. I never miss a single chance to enjoy this show.

     
     
  20. I'm behind… but I definitely love BBT. It's one of the few that makes me laugh right out loud. And Sheldon makes that show!

     
     
  21. LOVE LOVE LOVE this show! COMMUNITY also has a geeky feel to it, but very funny.

     
     

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