Kaley Cuoco is now officially a superstar

Kaley Cuoco

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I know, I know: it’s really Kaley Cuoco-Sweetling. At this point, it doesn’t matter. She just signed a new three-year deal with Big Bang Theory — so did Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons — which will pay her about $1 million per episode (22-24 episodes per year) across the three seasons. Translation: big money. If you factor in her deals with Toyota, Priceline, and the movie with Kevin Hart and Josh Gad coming out, she’s basically about to enter the upper echelon of female TV stars. Right now that’s essentially three people — Sofia Vergara, Mariska Hargitay, and Ellen Pompeo. The latter two are on shows that have run forever and a day and do well in syndication, and Sofia Vergara is an entity onto herself. (Plus, Modern Family has had a good initial run in syndication itself.)

A couple of interesting things here:

1. It is a semi-regular topic of my friends — as well as my wife and I — to try and figure out how Big Bang is such a success. Honestly, I watch it and I mostly find it funny. Jim Parsons is excellent on that show, and everyone fits into their sitcom niche role pretty well. Chuck Lorre has a golden touch in that format. It does surprise me that it plays so well in the “middle states” because it’s ostensibly about a group of friends in California, but I guess the humor is fairly general. Even though not everyone has physicists as friends, you could argue (could argue) that the circle-of-friends depictions on the show are more normal than, say, How I Met Your Mother — if you’ve never lived in NYC, that show might be harder to conceptualize (whereas Friends, while based in NYC, was a bit more universal). I feel like every sitcom since 1996 has been trying to re-create Friends, and even though they’re very different on surface, Big Bang might do the best job.

2. Amy Davidson, who was the other sister on Eight Simple Rules, appears to now be in Chevrolet Equinox ads:

3. If you were to consider Vergara, Hargitay, Pompeo, Cuoco and maybe Alyson Hannigan as “the big five” of female TV-based actresses over the last five years or so (I added Hannigan because she’s been on a bunch of hits, etc.) If you think of the actresses in the “conventional sex kitten” vein — which is one way that females become successful on TV, throughout time — it’s cool because only Vergara is really that. Yes, Hargitay’s mother was Jayne Mansfield, and yes, all of the actresses are conventionally attractive (Hannigan maybe less so, or at least that’s how she was supposed to be in American Pie), but none are from the “sex kitten/bombshell” territory (except Vergara). Is that a sign of advancement for females on television? Maybe. It’s interesting, though.

Here’s kinda what I mean by the old “bombshell” model:

4. This is going to be the conventional approach of most people on this raise…

… but in all fairness, the show got 5x better when Cuoco got female friends and there were a whole different batch of storylines to play with. It’s now less about “the guys” or Sheldon and Leonard, and more about a big mess of a group of friends. And who can’t relate to that?

Ted Bauer

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