Spoiler Alert: The story includes details about the Season 11 premiere of The Big Bang Theory.
CBS flagship comedy series The Big Bang Theory opened its 11th season tonight by picking up exactly where the show left off in May, with Sheldon popping the question to Amy. Fans were not left hanging for long, and, after only a brief phone call distraction, she said yes. With that cliffhanger resolved, the premiere, which featured guest appearances by Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon’s mom and Stephen Hawking, quickly set up a new plot twist for the season, with new mom Bernadette discovering that she is pregnant again. As the two newer couples are dealing with life-changing events, the BBT original romantic duo, Leonard and Penny, are left pondering where they are in their relationship. In an interview with Deadline, new BBT showrunner Steve Holland discusses why Amy had to yes and do so quickly, how Bernadette’s pregnancy came about, and how the two events will impact Leonard and Penny’s relationship. He also addresses potential crossovers with prequel series Young Sheldon, teases the road to the Sheldon-Amy wedding this season, whose parents we will likely see for the first time in earnest, and upcoming guest stars.
DEADLINE: Let’s start with the proposal. Was Amy always going to say yes or did you also explore other scenarios?
HOLLAND: We definitely did. Our instinct was always that she would say yes but when we were talking about the premiere episode when we got back (from hiatus) we threw open the doors and said, let’s just talk about all the possibilities of what could happen. We talked about versions where she finds out about the kiss and that upsets her and she says no. Or she held off on saying the answer until the end of the episode. But the more we talked about them, the more those versions felt like we were forcing story points to happen to jerk the audience around or build tension, playing with the audience’s emotions a little bit, They didn’t feel natural to the character and the story, so we came back around to her saying yes. There was a little bit of a delay, a pause, when Leonard calls and Sheldon takes the call but ultimately we give the audience an answer pretty quickly.
DEADLINE: What about unexpected Bernadette’s pregnancy? Did you want to have a new twist immediately following the proposal cliffhanger resolution?
HOLLAND: Melissa (Rauch) is pregnant in real life and we started talking about what we wanted to do , how we wanted to accommodate that on the show. Do we want to just ignore it and do the traditional sitcom thing of hiding her behind couches and tables, and the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like it could be a really interesting wrinkle to throw at Howard and Bernadette and their relationship. It would be so unexpected, they just came to terms of having their first baby, Bernadette just got back to work, it seemed like it could be a fun curveball we could throw at them.
DEADLINE: Will baby #2 have a better chance of being seen than Halley?
HOLLAND: We have a little bit of time to figure that out. I think we definitely have to do something different with the second one. I love what we did with Halley, the first baby, and I love that it is a nod to Mrs. Wolowitz and Carol Ann Susi who played her. That was really fun for us to do, we have to find something just as fun and surprising for baby #2.
DEADLINE: Will Sheldon and Amy’s engagement and Bernadette’s second pregnancy put pressure on Leonard and Penny whose relationship has been somewhat stagnant?
HOLLAND: Absolutely. There is an interesting thing in relationships; your friends are all getting married, your friends are all having babies, and even If you seem perfectly happy in where you are in life, it brings up questions about, should we be doing this, what is the next step for us. I think that definitely is going to be a dynamic we will be playing out with Leonard and Penny this season.
DEADLINE: Will we see Amy and Sheldon’s wedding this season and what can you tell us about the road to it? Will it be bumpy?
HOLAND: We are certainly building toward a wedding. The wedding planning is going to play a big part in the season so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a wedding before the season was over although I can’t promise that. I’m sure like anything with Sheldon, there will be bumps along the road. In early episodes that are coming up we deal with that. Sheldon, in his excitement to make the wedding as perfect as he can, takes it over and tries to overthink every decision so I think planning a wedding with Sheldon is going to be a complicated matter even when he is just trying to make it great.
DEADLINE: What other themes will the show explore this season?
HOLLAND: There are things that have been interesting to us that are a little bit in the first episode and more in the second episode of just in the world of science, what’s actually happening now, which is physics hasn’t quite made the breakthroughs that they were hoping it would make, and that’s going to impact the characters and how they see their futures. Meanwhile neuroscience has been a hot field, it’s getting a lot of funding. That’s also something we are playing with this season, Sheldon and all the guys struggling with what’s next, why haven’t we had the successes we thought we were gonna have in our careers.
DEADLINE: Are you planning any crossovers with prequel series Young Sheldon?
HOLLAND: We haven’t talked about that specifically,. There certainly could be things that happened in the past that we can reference on the show. Right now their goal is getting that show up and running and making it great and its own unique thing, but in the future we’ve certainly talked about things that you can see characters that are introduced in Sheldon’s world on that show that we could revisit as adults on our show.
DEADLINE: With the wedding coming, will we see more parents on Big Bang?
HOLLAND: We always try to get Sheldon’s mom on the show, she is great. We haven’t met Amy’s parents much at all, I think we saw her mom really briefly many years ago, so that is an interesting opportunity to cast them. But we haven’t talking about the wedding episode, that is a little down the road.
DEADLINE: Any upcoming guest stars you can tease?
HOLLAND: A few favorite guest stars of ours will be returning, possibly one of my favorite guest stars from the past.
DEADLINE: Does he happen to be a comedy legend who has won an Emmy for the show (a reference to Bob Newhart)?
HOLLAND (laughs): I can’t confirm nor deny that he is a comedy legend who has won an Emmy for the role but it’s certainly possible.
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