The Big Bang Theory has joined that elusive hall of famous TV shows claiming a 10th season. And, it’s still going strong. But before its 11th and 12th seasons hit, its stars have decided to make sure that if they were going to go on, it would be together. Some of its original leads have reportedly taken pay-cuts so their co-stars could get a raise.
In 2014, the original cast – Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) – scored on the big $1 million-per-episode paycheck. However, Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) have been earning only a fraction of that. The pair, who joined the main cast only in the fourth season, earned $200,000 per episode. A decent salary, for sure, but paltry compared to their co-stars.
E! News now reports that The Big Bang Theory’s original five are taking pay cuts. This would let Bialik and Rauch earn more without inflating the show’s budget.
Friends Did It First
Such a move might be familiar to fans with historical knowledge of the sitcom business. Back when Friends was picking up steam, Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) and David Schwimmer (Ross) were awarded bigger paychecks. This was due to their characters generally taking center-stage in a show. The will-the-won’t-they relationship of Ross and Rachel became the buzz of primetime TV.
However, it didn’t sit well with the rest of the cast, so when negotiations for new seasons came up, the cast agreed to be paid as an ensemble, equally. They punctuated their point by always entering awards shows in the same category, never defining one another as “lead” or “supporting”.
When Matt LeBlanc was asked if he though they deserved it, he shrugged if off as irrelevant. “If you’re in a position to get a raise, and you don’t get it, you’re stupid,” he once said, back in a Huffington Post interview.
Getting The Whole Gang Together
The Big Bang Theory is now consistently among the top-viewed sitcoms on primetime TV. Sure, it’s no Friends; Critics and fans alike will certainly say the nothing trumps the original comedy. However, The Big Bang Theory has gotten to that point where the cast can no longer make do without each other.
Consider the different dynamics between the characters: the character development Amy has drawn out of Sheldon, the way Howard and Bernadette’s relationship has evolved, and even the nostalgia we get when it’s just the four boys hanging out together. The show still gets positive reviews – currently the series enjoys a fresh 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Until that changes, the characters will continue to enjoy their scientific and social exploits – and the cast, their paychecks.