A theme that I have come back to a few times over the years has been the difference between British and American TV. I often feel that British comedy is driven by different things than American humour. Although there are some warm British sitcoms, a lot of the time it seems as if the humour derives from some darkness or a monstrous figure. For example, although the family in Going Forward love each other, it is seen in fleeting moments.

A contrast to this is The Big Bang Theory. There is, at the centre, a love between all the characters. It is one that is frequently strained and sometimes snaps, but is never permanently broken and is rarely hidden. Some people dislike American sitcoms for this very reason, seeing such heart as gushing and sickly sweet. I don’t; rather, I feel it fits the image America tries to sell of itself around the world. That is, of a country that is optimistic about the future and that darkness can still be defeated by the light.

Of course, all of this means nothing if the show isn’t funny. To me, it is. It is one of the few shows that I can guarantee at least one sizeable laugh out of each week. The writing is whip-smart, and the cast bounce off one another in a way that hasn’t been seen since Friends.

What I also like is that the characters have grown and changed, but in ways that are totally cohesive to who they were at the start. Sheldon has slowly come to understand relationships and intimacy, but he still gets is wrong frequently. Howard is becoming a responsible man, but still has this streak of childishness in him. Penny is settling down and reassessing her dreams, but still frets about her life choices. The show has somehow created characters that are both plausibly human while still becoming the best versions of themselves.

I think part of the reason America does this better than us in the UK is the way TV work over there. A show will have 22 or 24 episodes a series, allowing the characters room to grow in the way I have discussed above. You can’t do that when you only have 6 or 7 episodes, like you do in the UK. In Gavin & Stacey, for instance, Stacey and the others never really changed in the three series. In fact, the show seemed to end just as there were about to embark on some of their biggest changes.

That’s not to say I don’t love British comedy. It is brilliant at what it does. It is the Yang to the Yin of American humour. I just wish sometimes we could see the character development and story arcing that those over the pond do so well.

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