The Big Bang Theory may hinge on the will-they, won’t-they of Penny and Leonard’s relationship, but it’s about so much more than comic books and dating. At its heart, the hit sitcom is about friendship, and not just the core group of Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard, but how their group expands, changes, and grows up along the way.
They may not always be the best examples of healthy friendships, of course – and in real life, it’s unlikely that many people would want to be friends with someone as rude, demanding, and selfish as Sheldon – but there are still some amazing things that fans can learn from the show. Whether it’s from how the group deals with new situations, or how they learn to love Sheldon despite his demands on them, The Big Bang Theory includes some wonderful lessons about friendship.
Be Open To New Friendships
At the start of the show, the central gang is pretty limited, with just Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj. However, by the end, their social circle has expanded to include not just Penny, Amy, and Bernadette, but deeper relationships with Stuart, Wil Wheaton, and even one-time nemesis Barry Kripke. The growth of their group proves to be a huge benefit to all of them, helping them grow, evolve, and learn about themselves – and while it can be tempting to stick with the same friends all the time, this just shows how wonderful it can be to reach out to new people.
Let Your Friends Set You Up
Other than Leonard and Penny, who meet when Penny moves in across the hall, the main relationships of the show are the result of set ups from friends. Howard and Bernadette, who end up married with kids, start out on a blind date courtesy of Penny, who works with Bernadette at the Cheesecake Factory. And one of the sweetest relationships of the series, Sheldon and Amy, started as a ‘joke’, when Howard and Raj created a profile for Sheldon on a dating site. It may not end in a pairing as perfect as this, but letting friends sort out a set up might just be the best way to meet someone great.
Go On Adventures Together…
One of the ways that the Big Bang Theory friends keep their friendships fresh is to start new projects and go on adventures together. Whether it’s a Valentine’s train trip, heading to comic con, or paintball battles, there’s always something new going on that gives them ways to bond and things to talk about. Switching it up means that their group dynamic doesn’t get stale, and they can always talk about something new, too.
…But Have Your Own Lives, Too
There are times that the Big Bang Theory gang can seem a bit co-dependent, and Raj definitely struggled when Howard got into a relationship and he found himself at a loose end.
It’s a good reminder that while having close and loving friendships is incredibly important, it’s equally important to make sure that everyone has their own lives and interests, too. Not least because it means that if someone is suddenly less available, it doesn’t lead to the kind of silliness it does on the show from time to time.
Bond Over Shared Interests
There’s no doubt that the guys on the show are deeply connected thanks to their shared interests in all things nerdy. Whether it’s comic con, the comic book store, playing board games and video games, cosplay, or battling robots, these four find common ground in the things that they love. And this doesn’t just strengthen their own friendship. It also means that when the things they love may be outside the mainstream, they can still find a place to get excited about it, and be surrounded by people who understand that excitement.
Don’t Be Afraid To Call Friends Out
The friendships on the show may be solid, but they aren’t perfect – and one of the great things about The Big Bang Theory is that is does often involve the gang calling each other out. Sometimes this isn’t done in a particularly positive way, but when Raj called out Howard for making fun of his heritage and accent, it was a fantastic example of someone standing up for themselves, even with a best friend. Leonard increasingly learns how to set boundaries with Sheldon over the course of the show, and this is something that everyone should learn to do.
Let Your Friendships Evolve
No friendship in the series is exactly the same at the end of the show as it was at the start. Leonard and Howard reach a new level of understanding and respect, and Raj and Howard learn how to support each other as best friends while giving each other room to grow and change.
Even Penny goes from suffering Amy’s attentions to being her true friend, and that’s just a few examples. Throughout, the friendships are given space to change when the characters’ lives do.
Don’t Let Work Get In The Way
Over the course of the show, almost everyone works with at least one other person in the series – and usually far more than that. Sheldon and Amy work together (and eventually with the Nobel Prize for their efforts), all four of the main gang work together at CalTech, and Penny and Bernadette work together both at the Cheesecake Factory and later at a pharmaceutical company. And while this occasionally causes some friction, they always manage to get through it, and keep their friendships intact.
Take Care Of Sick Friends
Sheldon is known for being incredibly needy when he is sick – so much so that in an early episode, when Sheldon gets sick, Leonard, Howard, and Raj go into hiding! Of course, this leaves Penny to take care of him, and she is less than thrilled when she finds out that the others were intentionally avoiding him. Later on, Sheldon returns the favor, though, as Penny falls and breaks her arm, and Sheldon has to take her to the hospital. Moral of the story? Take care of your friends when they need you!
Always Be Grateful (And Tell Your Friends You Are)
The finale of The Big Bang Theory is one of the most touching episodes, as Sheldon makes his Nobel Acceptance speech, and recognizes the help and love that his friends have given him over the years. Throughout the series, it can be hard watching Sheldon’s friends struggle to deal with him when he is rude or dismissive, especially when they do so much for him – obeying his ‘rules’, respecting his ‘spot’ (most of the time), driving him around, taking care of him… the finale is a great reminder that gratitude is vital