The Big Bang Theory is a show about a group of scientists “and their friend Howard” (Simon Helberg) and their misadventures navigating the world at large. There are many standout performances in the show, but one, in particular, is Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). She could easily have been a shrinking violet or just been another girlfriend TV trope — but she isn’t. She is a vibrant, layered, and well-utilized character.

As funny as she is sharp, Bernadette delivers both laughs and friendship on The Big Bang Theory. Not only is she a girlfriend and later wife for Howard, but she is also a secret love interest for shy Raj (Kunal Nayyar). She is a friend to Penny (Kaley Cuoco), Amy (Mayim Bialik), and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), and she is even sometimes a surrogate mother figure to Sheldon (Jim Parsons). As she once explained of reasoning with Sheldon, her mother ran an illegal daycare in their home during her youth, so she is used to dealing with “stubborn children.” As much as she is willing to be a supportive mother, wife, and friend, she will never neglect herself, and she knows her worth within her social circle.

Bernadette Is a Force to Be Reckoned With

Known for her high-pitched, delicate voice and her petite frame, Bernadette comes across as nice and nurturing, but she is also a leader to be reckoned with. Her friends seem to know that underneath the nice persona, she means business. She is small but mighty. She is an accomplished scientist, a working mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and even an erstwhile beauty queen (who can forget her Miss California Quiznos video?) who supports and entertains, keeps everyone in line, and delivers straight up savage comebacks and one-liners. Remember the time she garnered an audible “damn” from Penny when she told Amy that like Sheldon’s career, their sex life was also theoretical? Ouch.

Bernadette is tough. She doesn’t suffer fools or their foolishness. She doesn’t let anyone boss her around and is the first one to put everyone in their place. She has Amy’s car towed when she parks in Howard’s parking spot. The other employees at the pharmaceutical company are a bit scared of her. When describing Bernadette as a game player, the words “wolverine” and “steel cage” are used. She won’t let Penny or Amy dress as Cinderella because she drove them to Disneyland. She is a bit of a bridezilla surrounding her wedding. She even guilt-trips Raj when she and Howard lose his dog. Despite her stature, she can put fear into grown men, and she delights in that fact — that, and the fact that she has access to weaponized smallpox.

Bernadette Is a Relatable Character

Many parents can relate to the Wolowitzes’ struggles, especially Bernadette’s. Due to societal pressures, mothers in particular struggle with undue feelings of guilt and regret and difficulties in balancing their work and their family. And health and finances can be issues that force parents’ hands as well. When Rauch had been put on bed rest in real life, the writers wrote pregnancy and bed rest into the series. This adds to the show’s authenticity, which resonates with audiences. It can also reach out in solidarity to viewers that may be in a similar situation.

Bernadette also demonstrates the complexity of motherhood. She struggles in her relationship with her own mother and doesn’t shy away from it. She loves her family but hides in her daughter’s playhouse to drink wine and be alone. She struggles with returning to work post-baby. On the one hand, she wants the option to go back to work because she enjoys her work, but on the other, she does not want to leave her children. When Howard points out that she makes the most money so he should stay home with the kids, she points out that he should make more money; then, she tells him to suck it. She is forthcoming about family, marriage, and parenthood, as well as work-life balance. Showing her trials and triumphs makes her an everywoman heroine. It also provides representation that is sometimes lacking in television, where family life can be glamorized or downplayed.

Bernadette Is ‘The Big Bang Theory’s MVP

With all the hats she wears, Bernadette often does double duty with all the various plot points of the show. One shining example is how she rallies behind Howard after his beloved mother, Debbie Wolowitz (Carol Ann Susi) dies. Then, the airline loses a suitcase containing the urn of her ashes. While seeming sweet and teary-eyed, Bernadette asks to speak to the airline employee. Then she delivers a well-timed, effective threat: a dead woman’s body is going home from the airport one way or the other. Sure enough, the airline produces the suitcase. After returning home, she and Howard throw a memorial dinner of sorts with some of his mom’s leftovers.

At one point, Sheldon and Leonard start to argue over the fact that Leonard wasn’t mentioned as a co-author of Sheldon’s paper. Leonard threatens to throw his food at Sheldon when Bernadette stands up and tells them to follow her, then off-camera, she chastises them in a voice that sounds eerily like Mrs. Wolowitz’s to stop ruining the meal. Bernadette’s voice is not even Rauch’s natural tessitura, but then she adds in a thick, New York accent in a lower tone to imitate her mother-in-law and creates comedic gold.

Although Bernadette can be a bit harsh sometimes, her crew of friends would be lost without her. She takes no prisoners, no nonsense, and non-fat milk. From telling Raj or Howard to tone it down, explaining Sheldon’s idiosyncrasies to everyone, or solving Penny and Amy’s problems, she comes in clutch in all plot lines. She is vengeful but fair, honest but apologetic, feisty but kind. She is a true enigma that graces TV screens whenever fans tune in, and The Big Bang Theory genuinely wouldn’t be the same without her.


By Ivaylo Angelov

Ivaylo Angelov born in Bulgaria, Varna graduated School Geo Milev is Tvserieswelove's Soaps Editor and oversees all of the section's news, features, spoilers and interviews.