The Big Bang Theory: An Epic Oral History

(Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

The Big Bang Theory, an epic behind-the-scenes oral history by Jessica Radloff, is a must-read book that goes above and beyond.

483 pages. That’s the amount of pages before we get to the acknowledgements and index. Could there have been more pages? Oh, I’m sure of it. After all, we’re talking about a series that had 279 episodes air over the course of 12 seasons. I’m sure it would have been more had the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike not halted production in November 2007. At the same time, one does wonder what might have happened without the WGA strike since CBS used the strike to rerun episodes. We’ll never know.

The Big Bang Theory by Jessica Radloff
The Big Bang Theory by Jessica Radloff. (Grand Central Publishing)

I started reading The Big Bang Theory over Yom Kippur ahead of my interview with Jessica. I finally finished it last night and there wasn’t a dry eye in my apartment. Prior to the end of Simchat Torah, I read “The Lorre Legacy” and this is the chapter that really brought tears to my eyes. If you want to know what the legacy of the series is, read the chapter. I’ve heard how there are some people who aren’t fans because of how it portrays nerd culture. At the same time, people grew an interest in science because of The Big Bang Theory. There were Make-A-Wish kids who used their wish to attend a taping or visit the set. That’s the impact that this series has. There are college students able to attend school because of Chuck Lorre’s foundation.

But I digress. There’s a lot of stories here that I definitely wasn’t expecting. Some of them might rise up to the level of bombshell reveals–such as Kevin Sussman revealing that he was initially cast as Howard Wolowitz but ABC wouldn’t let him out of his contract. Nobody told this to Simon Helberg during the entire run of the series. Imagine finding out while interviews were being collected for this book! Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco discuss hiding their relationship while working on the series. I can’t imagine that that was easy! Perhaps the most surprising anecdote is what Jim Parsons said was his biggest regret in 12 years on the series. I think you’ll be surprised.

I’ve read oral histories before but none have gone to the level of detail like Jessica Radloff’s oral history of The Big Bang Theory. This is the book that they are going to start teaching when it comes to writing an oral history. It’s impossible to put down and the minute you do, you want to read more! Unfortunately, once you reach the end of the book, that’s it. It’s like the series ending all over again. For me, The Big Bang Theory ended when I did a binge in late December 2020. This is what happens when one moves and quickly gets behind on TV due to the lack of a DVR. Anyway, emotions will be high when one reads about the series finale.

When one looks at the changing landscape of TV, it’s sad to think that there might never be another series like The Big Bang Theory. I don’t mean this in terms of the show’s plot but more in terms of a multi-cam series drawing massive ratings on a broadcast network. The landscape is changing as more people cut the cord and watch more content on streaming services. We might never see the likes of it again. Thank you to Jessica Radloff, Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, and the cast and crew for allowing fans to revisit and take us behind the scenes of the epic hit series. A reboot doesn’t seem likely so this book is the next best thing to a reunion special. You almost certainly won’t see the cast and crew open up in this way ever again!

Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Big Bang Theory as fast as you can.

The Big Bang Theory is available in bookstores.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.