The Big Bang Theory is using Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard's (Johnny Galecki) baby conflict to distract people's attention from the fact that the other characters' have barely had any arcs in the show's final season. Announced to be the final season a month before its premiere, people involved in the series promised nothing but a satisfying ending for the nerdy gang from Pasadena. But considering the lack of progress for most of the characters with just nine episodes left, it seems like the long-running sitcom is heading for a disappointing send-off.
Early this season, The Big Bang Theory introduced a marital issue for the Hofstadters after Penny revealed that she apparently doesn't want to have kids ever, whereas Leonard has been dreaming of growing a family from the moment they met. The particular subplot has been discussed on and off in the previous 15 episodes, but it's become the focal point of the show when Zack (Brian Thomas Smith) and Marissa (Lindsey Kraft) asked Leonard to donate his sperm. This would have fulfulled his dreams of passing his genes (albeit in an unconventional way), but Penny was very unhappy with the idea. The latest outing of The Big Bang Theory ended with Leonard deciding against donating, but the couple still has a long way to go with regard to resolving their looming problem.
With Penny and Leonard's conflict about whether or not to have kids at the center of attention, it's easy not to notice that the rest of the current storylines involving other characters are weak. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) continue their quest for a Nobel Prize in Physics, but since they've gone past the initial hurdle of discovering that an old Russian scientist already debunked Super Asymmetry, the subplot has become boring and forgettable. Even the introduction of two physicists from Chicago, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Pemberton (guest stars Kal Penn and Sean Astin), who briefly threatened the idea that the Coopers will get a shared Nobel Prize, had very minimal impact to the overall storyline. Now, it seems like everyone is just waiting for their inevitable accolade.
Raj (Kunal Nayyar), on the other hand, had the most promising arc in The Big Bang Theory, having gone through with an arranged marriage with Anu (Rati Gupta). The two's initial meeting were cute and for the first time in the show's history, it felt like they were finally giving Raj his own narrative. Over the course of the season, their love affair has been tackled briefly, but it was never the focal point of any outing. Instead, it has been relegated to being a B or even C plot, giving the impression that their story isn't progressing at all. Granted they're still working for a wedding in India that might bring the whole gang there, it doesn't exactly feel like season finale-material.
Finally, considering that The Big Bang Theory has devoted time to actually develop Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette's (Melissa Rauch) story from being a newly-married couple to parents of two kids, there's really nothing major happening with their arc. Throughout the season, the Wolowitz have been preoccupied with raising their children, and most of their weekly adventures has revolved around minor problems around the household - the latest of which saw them tackling an issue with their neighbors illegal balcony.
Granted that The Big Bang Theory stagnated Penny and Leonard's married life and the show is making up for it with this baby drama, it's quite frustrating that other characters - mostly Raj and the Wolowitzs barely get any major focus in the final season. It would've been nice to see the series continue Raj's arc after gaining his newfound confidence last season instead of working to have him married like the rest of his friends. At the same time, since the mystery of Howard's father continues to linger, fans would undoubtedly want to finally have some resolution, especially considering he's already a father himself. Hopefully The Big Bang Theory will manage to turn things around in the coming final episodes, and give every character a worthy send-off.
The Big Bang Theory season 12 air Thursday nights on CBS.