Don't expect a surprise baby announcement for Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) in the series finale of The Big Bang Theory, executive producer Eric Kaplan says. The show's inaugural couple has been married for a couple of seasons now, but unlike their friends who steadily progressed in their personal lives, the Hofstadters seem stuck. Things got more complicated when Penny revealed early this season that she doesn't want to have children ever, while her husband has been dreaming of building a family almost since he met her.
Ending after 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory's cancellation was a surprise to a lot of people, especially since it remains a ratings juggernaut. But while CBS was still keen on bringing the whole Pasadena gang back for a 13th year, show lead Jim Parsons (Sheldon) reportedly didn't want to come back for more. In a recent interview, he explained that it felt like they were able to do everything they can in the show and that it's time to wrap it up. With 15 of its 24 final episodes already out, fans are expecting some big things in the next following weeks for the hit sitcom, but nothing is as hotly anticipated as the resolution to the Hofstadters' ongoing baby drama.
Speaking with Metro in light of the coming finale of The Big Bang Theory, Kaplan addressed the excitement over what Penny and Leonard's ultimate stance on having kids will be. Unfortunately for those rooting for the couple to have babies, the producer, personally, doesn't seem to be too keen on the possibility, explaining that "women don’t have to have children to have fulfilling lives," which appears to be the idea they're pushing for with Penny not wanting to have children.
‘To me personally I feel strongly that women don’t have to have children to have fulfilling lives. I don’t think we should send that message out to the world. ‘I felt like that any responsible dealing of that issue has to have that in it. ‘I didn’t want it to be heavy handed – “you must have babies otherwise you’re wasting your life” – I don’t agree with that and I think it’s a poisonous message to send out to the world."
"It’s a little bit of a bummer because the next natural progression [after children] is death. Nobody wants to think about that. So we don’t want our characters to feel this train from meeting, falling in love and then dying, that seems like a rather hopeless message for our little show to be sending out into the world. ‘We have to take into account that both sides [Penny and Leonard] have a point, the pro-baby and the pro-no-baby."
Kaplan has a point, and while he answered the question in a personal manner, it seems like this is exactly the point that they're driving at, especially since Penny has finally landed a sustainable job that she quite enjoys. The main problem with this, however, stems from the show's execution. Throughout the years, Penny was open to having kids, and then suddenly, without any explanation, she decided that she no longer wants one. It's become more problematic considering that the show has always highlighted the power imbalance between Penny and Leonard, with the latter almost always giving way to what his wife wants because of the idea that he married up.
With the show disregarding Penny and Leonard the last couple of seasons after they got married, many are convinced that this baby conflict is making up for lost time. And if the show has more time to actually flesh out this particular subplot, it would be far more effective. But with just a handful of episodes left, not to mention the need to give the rest of the characters their own satisfying endgames, it just feels rushed and pointless. Regardless of what they decide to do with the Hofstadters, here's hoping that it'll be a fitting send-off for the show's principal couple.
The Big Bang Theory season 12 air Thursday nights on CBS.