“The Big Bang Theory” continues to influence the world of sitcoms, even though years have passed since its 2019 conclusion.
“Young Sheldon,” for instance, may be the most popular prequel series in the history of television. The original series itself continues spawning new discussions and theories. And so, it’s unsurprising that the franchise’s continued success has spawned another promised spin-off series, this time on Max — which is currently untitled and premise-free, but it’s coming. That much we know.
There are numerous options about what this untitled “The Big Bang Theory” might be, but here’s a hunch: the time has come for Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) to take the spotlight.
Raj is perhaps the most long-suffering of the entire gang. He goes through humiliating relationship after humiliating relationship, and while his career as an astrophysicist garners him some amount of notoriety, it also never really blooms the way his friend’s careers do. By the finale, most of the gang are married, happily advancing in their careers and looking forward to raising children. Raj is a single guy with a mediocre career who ends up floundering in their footpaths. Who better to build the show’s second spin-off around?
With no major ties that would keep him from changing professions or going to new places, Raj is an open book, complete with a future that’s undecided. And he’s the perfect anchor for this new show to continue the story, while still blazing its own path.
Raj is the only character who didn’t find his happily ever after
Raj Koothrappali has more than earned his happy ending at this point. In Season 12, an attempt at an arranged marriage to Anu (Rati Gupta) goes sour and leaves him single again. That’s after he suffers through relationships with Sweeney (Laura Spencer) and Lucy (Kate Micucci), which go nowhere.
On the career front, Raj’s accomplishments are occasionally lauded — remember when he discovered a planet he dubs “Planet Bollywood?” — but more often than not he doesn’t get to accomplish as much as Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). This culminates in an episode where Penny discovers a comet and Raj tries to steal the credit for her accomplishment, tussling with her until she finally forced him to admit she was the one who accidentally located the celestial body.
While it’s not necessary for every single member of their friends’ group to be married with children to be happy (and in fact, it might have been better had Penny and Leonard foregone parenthood entirely), the fact that he’s the last single member of the group is a sad thing. The show compensates by giving him a dog named Cinnamon, but that’s definitely not as kind an ending as Raj arguably deserves. A spin-off would let Raj finally find true love … or at least its closest facsimile in the ultra-cynical world of Chuck Lorre sitcoms. It would also allow him to advance workwise — or maybe try out party planning. Either way, there’s threads left untied here, and a lot of possibilities for a new show to take.
Raj’s adventures without the gang would be unique and fun
That brings us to the fact that there’s no reason for Raj to be anchored down in California aside from his connection to the gang and his job. So why not move him to a new city and allow him to encounter a new group of friends? Take him to MIT in Boston, or bring him to London or Japan. Make him a teacher, or have him work in a museum. The possibilities are endless.
To be fair, the history of doing such things with sitcom characters is always a crapshoot, and sometimes it doesn’t work out in a franchise’s favor. While such locale changes didn’t work for Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), it definitely worked for Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper). If a character’s strong enough to lead an ensemble and stand on its own, though, much can be accomplished. And it helps to have a strong team of writers and a capable actor behind them, both of which this spin-off (let’s call it “The Raj Show”) would have in spades.
While Kunal Nayyar has stood by the show’s chosen ending for Raj, telling Metro UK in 2020 that “I find it quite poignant that the one character that believed in true love so much was the one who didn’t, in the end, find it. It’s beautiful!”, that’s definitely not the popular consensus on Raj’s ending at all. Plenty of fans have expressed their frustration over Raj’s love life, and his lonely conclusion. This is why there’s so much meat left over for fans to chew on when it comes to him, compared to any other spin-off possibilities.
Centering the show on Raj would breathe life into the Big Bang Theory universe
Last of all, “The Raj Show” would add a very-needed dose of diversity to the homogenously white world of “The Big Bang Theory.” A series about the Indian immigrant who lives and works in America is a fascinating niche for a new show to take, and one that the original series only barely glanced at. A Raj-centered story would place his unique struggles as an immigrant at the forefront of the narrative, and potentially leave room for more dramatic storylines, as well. Raj’s selective mutism would also be interesting to explore in a series setting, especially if it’s given more thought and written more carefully — perhaps by taking advice from those who have it themselves.
There are many directions this upcoming Max spin-off could take, but Raj is definitely the character most primed for his own show. Between his unresolved storyline, his expansive family life, his yearning for love, and the easy ability to move him to a new location, there’s tons of freedom here to make a show worthy of its parent program, that still stands on its own two feet.