Can you imagine watching a version of The Big Bang Theory where Shamy doesn't exist?
In The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series (out now), Glamour's Senior West Coast Editor Jessica Radloff managed to gather the cast and crew together for a series of interviews. One topic of conversation? It turns out Mayim Bialik's character, Amy Farrah Fowler, was originally intended to appear in just one episode, the season 3 finale, to create a few laughs.
In the book, Bialik recounts that after filming the episode, she didn't know if she'd ever return to set. But thankfully, she had a lot of fans in the cast and crew, including co-creator Chuck Lorre and her costar, Jim Parsons, who played Sheldon. In the book, Parsons recalls the great relationship he felt Sheldon and Amy had, and how he was willing to fight for her if the writers ever tried to write her off the show.
Read an exclusive excerpt from the book below:
Grand Central Publishing 'The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series'
Cuoco and Galecki would soon have even more to celebrate. Weeks later, they—as well as Jim Parsons—negotiated their salaries from $60,000 an episode to $200,000 an episode. Deadline reported that the number would rise to $250,000 in season five, $300,000 in season six, and $350,000 in season seven, in addition to other incentives.
But as far as the fans were concerned, the only thing they cared about was what would happen for Sheldon now that Mayim Bialik would be returning as Amy. Season three ended with Howard and Raj wondering what the hell they had done by introducing Sheldon to his "perfect" match on a dating website, so now it was time to see how the writers would organically weave her into the canvas. As it turned out, Sheldon's life wasn't the only one about to change—Penny's was, too.
Ken Miller: The show really took off in the third and fourth seasons. In my opinion what really cemented it is when it was pretty much equal men and women. Now Penny had a posse, too, and it really worked.
Mayim Bialik: They decided after that summer break that I would be brought back, but they book you one episode at a time, which is not stressful at all! After my episode in the season three finale, I literally thought my character might never come back. I had been out of the industry for so long . . . it really could have gone either way.
Steve Molaro: I didn't know how important it was going to be at the time when I came up with the idea of Sheldon being matched with Amy on a dating site. I thought it would be funny that Koothrappali and Wolowitz would fill out a dating profile and be shocked that a match was found for Sheldon. That's how it started; what it would grow into would reveal itself later. But Chuck was the biggest early adopter and proponent of Mayim. Even when we felt that the character may be polarizing—because some viewers weren't comfortable with the idea of Sheldon being involved with a female—Chuck was like, "I don't care, you put that face on TV!" We, in the writers room, were into it, but we didn't know where it was going to go. We didn't know they were to have a second date, or how that was going to play out and keep evolving through the years. But we went into it like we do with all additions to the show and all the characters: We're hopeful and trying to do our best to make it grow into something better and interesting; that was one of those that obviously did. But it took a little while to shake off the "female Sheldon" description and let her become her own person.
Mayim Bialik: There was some negative attention when I joined the cast because some people held Sheldon very near and dear to them and didn't want him to change or become a cheesy boyfriend. To me, there was never a chance of that, and I think our writers actually handled that arc of him becoming more interested in romance very, very well.
Jim Parsons: I know at the audition they said they needed a female version of Sheldon, basically, but that's untenable long-term. There was no choice but to evolve the character. And at some point in season four—I don't know if something caused it or not—I remember saying to Todd, "I will not let this character go without a fight." That was notable for me, only in that I almost never disagreed with the writers. But at some point I felt a certain way about working with Mayim that I was like, If for whatever reason we seemed to be weaning her off of this show as a character, I would go and talk to them. I said this years ago, but I believe it even more now that one of the smartest things that the writers room ever did was introduce Bernadette and Amy at a point where, as far as interests and storylines go, we did not need them yet. The writers did not let the well run dry before they were like, Oh God, should we adopt a kid? Should we bring in a monkey? You know what I mean? They plugged these people in to see what was going to work and how it would work, and I thought it was genius.
This was news to Bialik, who actually thought she was going to be written off the show early in season four.
Mayim Bialik: The week that I was offered a regular contract, I had told my manager, "I think this is my last episode; I think they're done with me and have done all they want to do with my character." And that made me really sad. I told my manager, and she called me back later that day and said, "You're not going to believe what call I just got. They'd like to offer you a full position as a regular!" [Laughs] Like, no one was sending me covert messages; it was a completely self-generated fear that I wasn't fitting in or whatever it was. It was completely my own craziness. But once I was made a regular, I was still teaching neuroscience and tutoring piano. Then all that stuff kind of petered out because I had a full-time job. But I was not used to that! I had gotten my PhD about five years before. I was living my best hippie, science, mom life pretty much out of the industry. So it completely changed everything.
Melissa Rauch also got similar news, but even then she wasn't convinced it would be a permanent thing.
Melissa Rauch: I remember being in my dressing room, hearing that the show was interested in making me a series regular, but because it wasn't a full series regular, they didn't want a big announcement. It was almost like it was a trial run, meaning I wouldn't know week to week if I was going to be on. And then at one point, it just became all episodes, which was a huge shift because I had a little more stability. Both Mayim and I were eased in, so I credit the producers with making the transition seamless in that it wasn't forced down people's throats. As a fan of the show, if they had been like, Here's your new cast members!, I think there would have been something very jarring about that. And if I knew then what I know now—in terms of what the job turned into—my nerves would have been off the charts. I would have imploded. It was just supposed to be a onetime job. The fact that it was so gradual was such a lesson in life: One step at a time, one day at a time, and don't always look at the endgame, which is something I tend to do so much. It was such a gift and lesson that's a great reminder even now.
That same advice could be credited for how the writers approached Amy early on. Granted, she was there as a possible love interest for Sheldon, but the real relationship was the one that would unfold between Amy and Penny. Those who never had a close friend growing up—or felt part of a group— would relate to the excitement Amy felt when she was finally able to have that as an adult. And not just with any female, but with Penny—someone whom she admired and adored.
Steve Molaro: Amy had a desperate craving for a social life that she never had, and I understand that. It was nice to be able to take some of those feelings and experiences from high school and have a place to put them with Amy. The desperation of wanting someone to think you were their best friend. And not only someone, but someone as cool and popular as Penny. I know that feeling. I've said those words that Amy said. So to have that kind of outlet was extremely cathartic.
Chuck Lorre: Initially, Amy was just an offshoot of Sheldon. But that didn't work at all. So all right, it was a baby step. And then when she became enamored with Penny—to have a friendship with a woman like that—meant so much to her. The show evolved because it was seen through different eyes. Molaro took the show to another level of personal, and that very much made it a better show, a richer show, and it opened the door to stories that wouldn't have been told otherwise.
Excerpted from THE BIG BANG THEORY: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series. Copyright © 2022 by Jessica Radloff. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.