The Big Bang Theory is one of the most iconic comedies on TV. It might be over now, but the show managed to run for a staggering 12 seasons while it was on air. Devised by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, The Big Bang Theory started life in 2007, quickly garnering controversy for what some perceived to be its inaccurate portrayal of “geek” culture.
Despite these complaints, the show quickly gained a huge fanbase, and you probably don’t have to look very far these days to find a T-shirt with Sheldon’s iconic catchphrase, “Bazinga!”, emblazoned across it. Here are the best TV shows like The Big Bang Theory that you can watch right now.
If you love The Big Bang Theory, then it stands to reason that you’ll also love this prequel, which revolves around Sheldon’s life growing up in Texas in the late 80s and early 90s. Iain Armitage takes over the role of Sheldon from Jim Parsons, who also serves as a narrator and executive producer on the show. Like The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon focuses on the titular character’s inability to balance his social life and scientific genius, but there’s no laugh track this time around, so it’s more of a comedy-drama than an out-and-out sitcom.
The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan may be a somewhat problematic individual, but his body of work still stands the test of time. The IT Crowd is a laugh-out-loud-funny British sitcom that zeroes in on IT professionals Roy and Moss, who work in a dingy basement at the nebulous Reynholm Industries. Katherine Parkinsonplays Jen, their new manager, and together, the trio must navigate the challenges of their jobs and figure out how to get along with one another. Some episodes skirt the boundary of taste, but overall, this is a great sitcom.
Two and a Half Men
If you can get past the controversy surrounding Charlie Sheen like a whirlwind, then Two and a Half Men is a perfectly watchable and amusing sitcom. Like The Big Bang Theory, it was also created by Chuck Lorre, so if you like his particular brand of humour, then you’re going to love this. The show follows jingle writer Charlie as he tries to adjust to life alongside Alan, his straight-laced brother, and Jake, Alan’s young son. The comedy potential of that premise should be obvious, so it should come as no surprise that Lorre and the writers wring every last drop of that potential out of the show.
Rick and Morty
Memes aside, Rick and Morty is a fiercely intelligent and deconstructive animated show that just happens to have a lot of off-colour gags as well. Despite a pretty heavy emphasis on bodily humour and gross-out jokes at times, Rick and Morty also frequently dips into existentialist subject matter, with the titular characters often questioning their place in the universe. The best episodes of Rick and Morty channel a nihilist fascination with the pointlessness of life and match it with absurdist humour and a subversive approach to character drama.
If you really hate The Big Bang Theory’s laugh track (and we know many people who do), then you might find yourself more at home with Silicon Valley. This comedy series focuses on a brand new tech startup trying to edge its way into an almost comically cutthroat world of business. Richard Hendricks is the founder of Pied Piper, an app that happens to contain a world-changing data algorithm. Where The Big Bang Theory could occasionally aim for targets that were too broad, Silicon Valley accurately managed to depict the tech nerd world as it really is.
Stranger Things has unquestionably proven to be an absolutely massive hit for Netflix. The throwback ‘80s-set drama is heavily inspired by the works of writer Stephen King, as well as old-school TV shows like The Twilight Zone, so if you’re someone who gets a lot of the (admittedly fairly mainstream) references that The Big Bang Theory throws out, then you should be right at home in the town of Hawkins. Each season offers monster thrills, conspiracy stories, and coming-of-age drama in equal measure, so if you love movies like Stand By Me, you should definitely check this out.
If you’re not a fan of The Big Bang Theory’s style of comedy but you do like the pop-culture references it utilises, then Community is definitely the show for you. This whip-smart show was created by Rick and Morty’s Dan Harmon, and it features a similar anarchic style of humour to that show, albeit in live-action instead of animation. Community heavily relies on breaking the fourth wall for its humour, but it never feels forced or clever-clever; instead, it perfectly fits the subversive style of the show, in much the same way as this technique works for Rick and Morty.
How I Met Your Mother
At its centre, The Big Bang Theory is a relatively straightforward sitcom. It might wear the geek merchandise it picked up at Comic-Con, but it’s really an old-fashioned laugh track show. In that vein, it’s quite similar to How I Met Your Mother, a Friends-style sitcom about a group of friends looking for love in New York. Where Big Bang has Jim Parsons’ Sheldon, Mother has Neil Patrick Harris’ lovable turn as Barney Stinson, a character you love to hate (and then love to love). This is real feel-good TV that’s perfect after you’ve had a hard day at work.