After 12 seasons and 279 episodes, “The Big Bang Theory” went out Thursday — no, we’re not gonna say it — on a high note, with an immensely satisfying series finale. And it was one that could definitely help four-time champ Jim Parsons do the same at the Emmys.
The emotional peak of the hour-long closer was Sheldon’s (Parsons) acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize (watch above), which he shared with his wife Amy (Mayim Bialik). The whole gang flew out for the occasion — with Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, as Raj’s (Kunal Nayyar) date — and after Amy gave her speech, Sheldon took the podium. The news of the award had made Sheldon revert to his old self-absorbed, inconsiderate self, but after seeing his friends in the audience, Sheldon, a man so fastidious he has a set of rules for roommates to follow, set aside his “long and somewhat self-centered” speech and winged it.
Acknowledging that the award “doesn’t just belong to me,” Sheldon thanked his family and his chosen family, Raj, Howard (Simon Helberg), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and his “two dearest friends in the world,” Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), asking them all to stand.
“I was under a misapprehension that my accomplishments were mine alone. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “I have been encouraged, sustained, inspired and tolerated not only by my wife but by the greatest group of friends anyone ever had.”
He continued: “I apologize if I haven’t been the friend you deserve. But I want you to know in my way, I love you all. And I love you [Amy].”
It’s a lovely, simple speech with a much deeper subtext. The socially inept Sheldon could be prickly at best and a total dick at worst to everyone around him, and we got a taste of the latter with his brief regression. For him to have that moment of clarity onstage and speak from the heart at the high point of his career to pay tribute to his friends, it’s the type of aww-worthy full-circle journey that tugs at your heartstrings. And Parsons certainly sold the hell out of that poignant moment.
Parsons received six consecutive Best Comedy Actor Emmy nominations for “Big Bang,” winning in 2010, ’11, ’13 and ’14 to tie Carroll O’Connor, Michael J. Fox and Kelsey Grammer for the most victories in the category. Since the TV academy hasn’t nominated him since his last win, voters might be over him and “Big Bang,” which hasn’t made the comedy series cut since 2014 as well. The TV academy also isn’t super sentimental when it comes to farewell hugs, and to return after five years is a big ask. The closest comparison would be Grammer, who won his fourth comedy actor Emmy in 2004 for the final season of “Frasier,” a year after getting snubbed.
But the good news for Parsons is that there’s room for him to make a return with two open slots, thanks for Larry David‘s (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Donald Glover’s (“Atlanta”) absences. He’s currently in eighth place in our odds, trailing Bill Hader (“Barry”), Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”), Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”), Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), Jim Carrey (“Kidding”) and William H. Macy (“Shameless”).
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