On Thursday night, a staff writer for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, where she writes about and reviews television, was apparently freaked out and fulminated on Twitter about a fictional character in the hit show “The Big Bang Theory” getting pregnant and being happy about it in the series finale. Dr. Kathryn VanArendonk, who has a PhD in English from Stanford University, wrote, “IN THIS CLIMATE?! my mind is still boggling. REALLY? THAT’S THE END? REALLY!? when I say that I feel sure this is an accident, what I mean is that it seems likely to have been written with no reference to current events re: abortion laws. it’s clearly not an accident as far as how they decided to find an ending for that character.”
In the final episode, the character Penny discovers that she is pregnant.
As USA Today reported, unlike VanArendonk, key people on the show were happy about the show’s choice:
For much of the final season, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) debated having children: Leonard generally was in favor, Penny not so much. The finale reveals Penny is with child, and that she and Leonard are happy about it. Cuoco is, too. “I thought it was great. People change their mind, and I think she even admitted, ‘I’m not sure about this.’ But I thought it was a really sweet story line, and it gave Leonard and Penny somewhere to go,” she says.
Show co-creator Chuck Lorre claimed the pregnancy “just felt like a natural progression. When we leave these characters and say goodbye to them, we know their life is continuing and expanding. And that just felt right, that life was expanding.” Executive producer Steve Holland added, “There was a line in the pilot we kept going back to where Leonard says, ‘Our babies will be smart and beautiful.’ That felt like a lovely bow to tie up their relationship. Pregnancies can sometimes be an expected thing in a finale, and hopefully writing against it for most of the season gave us a chance to have one last surprise.”
VanArendonk’s claim that the show was apolitical was not 100% true; Lorre used the vanity card after the show to frequently attack President Trump. In late October 2018, the vanity card called President Trump “a fascist, hate-filled, fear-mongering, demagogic, truth-shattering, autocratic golf cheater,” as well as calling on God to display his wrath on Trump supporters. The full text was this:
Chuck Lorre Productions #598
God, (I call you that even though I suspect thou art well beyond names and words and might actually be some sort of ineffable quantum situation), I humbly beseech thee to make thy presence known on November 6th. Demonstrate your omnipotence through us as we make ink marks on little circles in curtained booths. Of course if you, in your divine wisdom, believe a fascist, hate-filled, fear-mongering, demagogic, truth-shattering, autocratic golf cheater is what we need right now, then, you know, thy will be done. But if thou art inclined to more freedom, more love, more compassion, and just more of the good stuff thou hath been promoting in our hearts or our parietal lobes – either one, doesn’t really matter – I submissively ask that thy encourage voter turnout in that general direction. Also God, please help Bob Mueller. Guide him and make him strong, brave, wise and true. And yes, I know there must be thousands of guys named Bob Mueller, so why not help them all, just to be on the safe side. Amen.
Oh, almost forgot, remind those who collaborate with the darkness that thou art the light, and the light is not above whipping out a little Old Testament wrath. Amen again.
October 25 was not the first time Lorre used the show to spout off against Trump in the vanity cards, although not by name. In vanity card #541 from November 3, 2016, Lorre mocked the “Make America Great Again” slogan as “a bumper sticker for victimhood” and said “Big Daddy can’t save us. Our salvation lies within ourselves,” adding more irony to how in the more recent vanity card, he would call upon God. Lorre’s vanity card #559 from May 4, 2017 mocked The Apprentice’s ratings, as if television ratings had anything to do with foreign policy achievements. “Defeat terrorism and crazy dictators? He couldn’t even defeat Two and a Half Men,” the vanity card read, appearing alongside a chart of that week’s ratings.