The Big Bang Theory was extremely popular throughout its 279-episode run, but it still stirred up its fair share of controversies. Over the show's 12 seasons, behind-the-scenes drama and comments from stars have caused scandals to erupt. Elsewhere, some contention stems from the way the show itself is produced, managed and written.
While the show was successfully able to finish its run without a derailing scandal, there was still some drama. Plus, with streamers about to rediscover the show's episodes when it comes to the upcoming HBO Max, some of these might come back up. Scroll through to see the most controversial and scandalous moments related to the show and its cast.
One of the most recent scandals that has plagued the Big Bang cast involved a wage gap between the male and female stars. Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg each made $1 million per episode for their work ahead of Season 11. Kaley Cuoco also made $1 million an episode per episode for her work as Penny, but the other two main actresses, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, only earned between $175,000-$200,000 per episode.
Many online were outraged that the actresses received so much less than their male co-stars. Luckily, the cast themselves took matters into their own hands, with the higher-paid actors each taking a reported $100,000 paycut to raise Bialik and Rauch's pay to $500,000 per episode.prevnext
Bialik's Weinstein Op-Ed
Bialik faced a wave of criticism after writing a controversial opinion piece for The New York Timesabout the ongoing wave of sexual misconduct outings in Hollywood. The actress, who plays Amy Farrah-Fowler on the CBS sitcom, addressed the topic of sexual harassment and assault in an article titled "Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein's World." In the piece, Bialik outlines how she hasn't dealt with Hollywood sexual harassment personally. She attributes that to several factors, like her "nontraditional" physical look and modest way of dressing.
"I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise," she wrote. "I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don't act flirtatiously with men as a policy." Her experience was way out of line with what numerous other women have faced in their careers, so many took her stance as dismissive and victim-blaming. Bialik has since clarified and apologized for her remarks.prevnext
Cuoco on Feminism
Cuoco took some heat for comments of her own to press back in 2014. The actress was asked by Redbook if she was a feminist, and many felt there was much to be desired by her answer. "Is it bad if I say no?" Cuoco said. "It's not really something I think about. Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around ... I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that's because I've never really faced inequality."
An outrage in the Big Bang fanbase erupted, and Cuoco soon took to Instagram to clarify her comments. "In my Redbook article, some people have taken offense to my comments regarding feminism," she wrote. "If any of you are in the 'biz,' you are well aware of how words can be taken out of context. I'm completely blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for my success along with many others. I apologize if anyone was offended. Anyone that truly knows me, knows my heart and knows what I meant."prevnext
Cuoco and Galecki's Break-up
Big Bang leads Cuoco and Galecki dated in real life for roughly two years during the CBS sitcom's early run, but the relationship didn't last. That failed relationship could have derailed the show, but Cuoco has said it actually helped them in the long haul when it came to a working friendship.
"We dated, so we know each other quite well," she said. "He's one of my best friends. I don't even know how to describe it. Into an 11-year relationship, he's one of the closest people I've ever worked with, for sure. We know each other really well. We call each other a tag team so we're always doing stuff together and going in on stuff together. He's been a great support for a long time."prevnext
Mocking Geek Culture
One of the longest running complaints of the hit CBS sitcom is the way it seems to make fun of geek stereotypes. Despite the show being based around a group of intellectual and nerdy guys, many jokes seem to be making fun of them for their passions. Many onlookers have written about this criticism, including The Tab's Bobby Palmer.
"The Big Bang Theory's jokes about nerds are executed with all the grace of a cave troll set loose in the Chamber of Mazarbul," Palmer wrote. "The show masquerades as something written for nerds, but its nerdy jokes are so thin and so painstakingly explained that it comes across as 'haha look at these nerds, they're so different to normal people.' It's as if the bullies who used to take their lunch money grew up and decided to turn the dorks they poked fun at in school into lite daytime entertainment for other lantern-jawed jocks."prevnext
'Fake' Laughter Criticism
One of the most repeated criticisms of Big Bang is its cheesy laugh track. Critics have slammed the show for using what is perceived as "fake" laughs. However, the show is actually filmed in front of a live studio audience. Galecki has seemed especially irritated at the notion the laughs they receive are not real, once writing, "canned laughter my ass" on a photo of the studio crowd.prevnext
Bialik's Vaccination Comments
Before she irritated people with her Weinstein comments, Bialik made another controversial statement concerning vaccinations. In a 2009 interview with PEOPLE, the actress revealed she did not vaccinate her children.
"We are a non-vaccinating family, but I make no claims about people's individual decisions," Bialik said. "We based ours on research and discussions with our pediatrician, and we've been happy with that decision, but obviously there's a lot of controversy about it."
When that remark resurfaced in 2015, she retracted it and claimed she vaccinates her kids, writing, "Dispelling rumors about my stance on vaccines. I'm not anti. My kids are vaccinated. So much anger and hysteria. I hope this clears things up."prevnext
Parsons lives as an openly gay man, but that wasn't always the case. Parson has been in a relationship with his now-husband Todd Spiewak since 2002, but he never really talked about it or confirmed that the two were in relationship. However, he was asked in 2012 about being a gay man during an interview, so he finally addressed his sexuality. While that ruffled some feathers among Big Bang's more conservative fans, Parsons is happier than ever.
"I never had a coming out piece, I just didn't mention it," Parsons told E!. "I took Todd with me to events…and then finally one day while working on Harvey I did a piece with Patrick Healy for The New York Times and he just point-blank asked, 'Was working on The Normal Heart meaningful to you as a gay man?' And I was like, 'Well, yeah. Yeah.' And what a wonderful…I can't tell you what a wonderful thing that was, what a gift he gave me with one question. It was suddenly out there and official."prevnext
Foreign Knock-off Series1comments
There was an alleged rip-off of The Big Bang Theory that aired in the Republic of Belarus called Теоретики (The Theorists). It featured basically copied characters, a similar title sequence and arguably plagiarized scripts. Creator Chuck Lorre expressed his dissatisfaction with the show, but Warner Bros. legal department could not force the show to end due to The Theorists' network's ties to Belarus' government. However, when the producers and actors discovered the show was not a legally cleared remake, they left the project and ended the series.
"I'm upset. At first, the actors were told all legal issues were resolved," actor Dmitriy Tankovich told Charter 97. "We didn't know it wasn't the case, so when the creators of The Big Bang Theory started talking about the show, I was embarrassed. I can't understand why our people first do, and then think. I consider this to be the rock bottom of my career. And I don't want to take part in a stolen show."prev