Quick Review: THE BIG BANG THEORY by Jessica Radloff (Grand Central Station)

RadloffJ-BigBangTheoryUSHCThe definitive, behind-the-scenes look at the most popular sitcom of the last decade, The Big Bang Theory, packed with all-new, exclusive interviews with the producers and entire cast.

The Big Bang Theory is a television phenomenon. To the casual viewer, it’s a seemingly effortless comedy, with relatable characters tackling real-life issues, offering a kind of visual comfort food to its millions of dedicated fans. But the behind-the-scenes journey of the show from a failed pilot to a global sensation is a fascinating story that even the most die-hard fans don’t know in its entirety. 

THE BIG BANG THEORY: THE DEFINITIVE, INSIDE STORY OF THE EPIC HIT SERIES is a riveting, entertaining look at the sitcom sensation, with the blessing and participation of co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, executive producers Steve Molaro and Steve Holland, as well as Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, and more. Glamour senior editor Jessica Radloff, who has written over 150 articles on the series (and even had a cameo in the finale!), gives readers an all-access pass to its intrepid producing and writing team and beloved cast. It’s a story of on-and-off screen romance told in hilarious and emotional detail, of casting choices that nearly changed everything (which even some of the actors didn’t know until now), of cast members bravely powering through personal tragedies, and when it came time to announce the 12th season would be its last, the complicated reasons why it was more difficult than anyone ever led on.

Through hundreds of hours of interviews with the sitcom’s major players, Radloff dives into all this and much more. The book is the ultimate celebration of this once-in-a-generation show and a must-have for all fans.

An extensive, wide-ranging oral history of The Big Bang Theory, written with the full participation of the cast and crew. Overall, an engaging, exhaustive, and enjoyable read. A must for super-fans of the show.

The fact that Radloff was able to write this with the full participation of the cast and crew of the show makes this oral history stand out from many of the other recent releases in the same sub-genre — for example, Andy Greene’s The Office and Marc Freeman’s Modern Family (and certainly stand out from the various books about Friends that just regurgitate what the stars and creators have said in interview and podcasts — one book owes a considerable debt to Scott Feinberg’s Awards Chatter podcast…).

The book is presented more-or-less chronologically in topic, as Radloff et al walk readers through the creation, development, casting, and more of the show, with the occasional “coffee breaks” that cover specific aspects of the show and give less-well-known and less-publicized aspects of the creation some love (for example, costumes). This approach gives readers a good idea of how the show developed, as well as its popularity (which was, at certain points, quite insane — although, as a fan of the show, not particularly surprising in my opinion).

As someone who knows a lot of people who occupy space in the science and/or geek culture worlds, I was always surprised to see who did and didn’t like the show. For me, there were many moments throughout the show’s 12 years that were superb, and even among the best comedy moments on American television. But one thing that really stands out for me, and this is covered in the book, is the evolution of the characters and cast in general. Each character has a clear story-arc — they all grow, develop, and evolve naturally based on the situations in which they find themselves. The addition of Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik), in particular, but also any number of supporting cast members, kept the show pretty fresh throughout the 12 seasons. Each of the cast members tells Radloff about how they see their characters evolution, their place in the show, and it does add a lot to one’s understanding of the story being told.

Of particularly interest, for me, though is the behind-the-scenes stuff, and Radloff provides this in spades. To cover any of it in meaningful fashion would risk this review becoming almost as long as the book (it is a substantial read). It certainly felt like everything was covered — from Cuoco and Galecki’s relationship, to Parson’s eventual desire to leave the show, to Rauch and Bialik’s anxieties over becoming regulars and then main cast — each topic is handled very well, and Radloff allows the interviewees to provide the context, details, and more of each story. (Radloff does include plenty of useful editorial comments for context.)

There were times when I thought the book could have been tightened up a bit — usually if something was reiterated or gone over again, but from a slightly different angle. However, for the main, this is a very well constructed oral history. This is a must-read for super-fans of the show. Casual TBBT fans may find it a bit too long, but I still think they’ll find some interesting content — the cast, in particular, provide plenty of interesting observations about their characters, the show as a whole, and the process of making and starring in a mega-hit show.



Jessica Radloff’s The Big Bang Theory is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and in the UK, on October 11th.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram
Review copy received via NetGalley

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