Comic-Con 2011: The Big Bang Theory

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What was once largely a boys’ club has become more of a gender-balanced ensemble. CBS’ The Big Bang Theory returned to Comic-Con this year, and brought along two new panelists—Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) and Mayim Bialik (Amy). We were able to chat with the fresh faces as well as Comic-Con vets Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Simon Helberg (Wolowitz), Kunal Nayyar (Raj), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), showrunner Bill Prady, and producer Steven Molaro. Here’s what they had to say about last season’s shocking finale (Raj and Penny?!) and what’s to come in Season 5.

On the gender balance…

“We’re so fortunate to have Mayim and Melissa, who we love. They’re in stories when it’s appropriate. One of the great things we have now is the ability to say, ‘Well, Penny would probably talk to women friends about this, not men friends.’ And there are women around her.” – Prady

“It’s fun to have the girlfriends. It’s a blast. I think she’s enjoying having the girls around. It’s opening new storylines for everybody.” – Cuoco

“It’s the perfect addition, because it doesn’t change things too much. It really only enhances the things that we have and gives sort of more options.” – Helberg

“I love girls’ night on the show. I love it. I think they’re so funny together. This kind of chemistry, there’s no ingredients for it. It happens or it doesn’t.” – Galecki

“I think that’s been a really fun part of this past season. Also, I think it lets Kaley shine in a really special way, because she’s socially superior when she’s with Bernadette and Amy.” – Bialik

On getting added to the main cast…

“I started as a fan of the show, so when I found out that I had the audition for Big Bang, I was super excited—just as an actor, because it’s such great writing, but then also as a fan, like, really, I get to go there? … It’s been so exciting to join this world and work with these amazing people.” – Rauch

On what really happened between Penny and Raj…

“Here’s what we think. We think that whichever side the fans were on, on what happened, they’ll be happy with how it resolves.” – Prady

“All I know is she came out of the bedroom, woke up with Raj … I didn’t read it 'til like the night before. All I saw at the beginning—because they write out the scenes of who’s in each scene. And I saw the last scene, and all it said was, ‘Penny and Raj, bedroom.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ I didn’t even have to read it to know what they were going for.” – Cuoco

“You know, I thought we made love, but now I don’t know anymore. Again, I don’t know how it’s gonna play out, because we haven’t seen the first draft of the script. All I hope is that he tries to make amends with all of his friends.” – Nayyar

“When Simon and I read that script, we got angry at Kunal. Like, you know, ‘Dude, that’s messed up.’ We’re so protective of Penny and Kaley. We held a grudge for a little while.” – Galecki

On the living arrangements…

“Yes, Leonard will move back in with Sheldon. That living arrangement fell apart when Priya moved back to India.” – Prady

“I would predict that Sheldon’s gonna have to have a real moment of struggle with it, but of course, he’s got to pick Leonard. That’s the show we’re doing. I think Sheldon will be fine with that. … He’ll find a way to be happy that Leonard’s back in his life on a day-to-day basis.” – Parsons

“I don’t think [Leonard and Sheldon] would do very well living apart for very long, as exasperating as Sheldon can be. They kind of need each other to function.” – Galecki

On Sheldon/Amy…

“Working with Mayim has truly been heaven. I hope nobody has to rush anything in terms of progress in the relationship or whatever. By the same token, I hope we get to spend a lot of time together this season. I love the way these two characters have developed into each other. I think there are so many ways it could have gone wrong to introduce a character like that, especially with a character like Sheldon, who—it’s like, he’s clearly a single man, in various forms. For it to work so well, they have written it so well, and she plays it so well.” – Parsons

“They both have similar requirements for a relationship, meaning not much contact, limited physical contact, and even when the kiss happened, there had to be a tremendous repair of that gross problem. Yeah, I think they require the same things from each other. And I think in any relationship that’s important, but especially people who are as persnickety as the two of them are.” – Bialik

On Leonard/Priya…

“Leonard is going to keep his relationship going with Priya, long-distance.” – Prady

“Well, it’s an interesting situation. Because if you’ve got a girlfriend that you’re in a long-distance relationship with, and there’s somebody right there who you can’t do anything about [Penny], that’s kind of fun.” – Molaro

“From what I’m hearing, Penny might be having feelings for Leonard again, and might be going through that again. But Leonard’s got a girlfriend who now lives in India. So he’s got two chicks that want him, and he’s still not getting laid.” – Cuoco

“It’ll be an interesting thing to play. I mean, we can all relate to that. I think he’s going to be a very frustrated young man, which is so fun to play.” – Galecki

On a happy ending for Leonard and Penny…

“Down the line, I’d like to see them together, not right now. I think they have a lot to learn. My heart is definitely with that relationship. I think it always will be. It just feels like they should end up together, but that’s a long way away.” – Cuoco

“I think they’re the loves of each other’s lives. They just have a lot to learn. Hopefully we’ll be around long enough for them to mature enough to get it together.” – Galecki

“I personally love them together … I really think there is love there. But I’m sure whatever direction the writers take will be fantastic, because they know better than me and my stupid feelings.” – Rauch

“I like the tension. I really like the dance. I really like the dance that they do. I know a lot of people had a lot of feelings about the Priya plot from last year, but I loved seeing Leonard content and Penny not.” - Bialik

On Wolowitz/Bernadette…

“He’s got this skewed perspective of women, so for them to be more powerful than him is probably not in his old-fashioned view of how things should be. Clearly he’s a little bit stunted.” – Helberg

“I think it’d be a miracle if he gets to the actual altar.” – Helberg

“I’m very excited to see where the wedding planning will take them. It’s an interfaith couple, so I don’t know if there’s going to be issues on that front. And of course, when you marry Howard Wolowitz, you’re also marrying Mrs. Wolowitz.” – Rauch

“There are many things that test Howard’s ego. This is just another thing to add to that list. But if he can kind of succumb to being her arm candy, maybe she can buy him a few new shiny belt buckles. Maybe he’ll enjoy it after a while.” – Rauch

On guest stars…

“Christine [Baranski] is absolutely coming back. We certainly hope Laurie Metcalf will be back.” – Prady

“At some point we’d love to see Wil [Wheaton] again.” – Molaro

“Wil Wheaton is such a good person. He really is. This sounds so stupid, but he brings such a brightness. He’s always got this sunniness that he brings onto the set. Which is a funny characteristic of somebody that I’m supposed to dislike so intently.” – Parsons

On attracting new fans…

“We try to be welcoming at every episode. It’s a balance. If you’re a big fan of the show, there should be elements that continue, but if you’re new to it, you should enjoy the episode. So sometimes we try to have it work on two levels.” – Prady

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