The Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch loved how the show handled her character’s motherhood. Rauch played Bernadette on the long-running CBS sitcom, making her first appearance in season 3 and remaining part of the series until the end. Bernadette soon enters a relationship with Howard (portrayed by Simon Helberg) and the couple eventually gets married in the season 5 finale. Though the show naturally found its fair share of comedy in the newlyweds navigating married life, they overcome potential hurdles and become parents to a girl – Halley – in season 10. And, before the conclusion of Big Bang Theory, Bernadette gives birth to a baby boy named Neil.
Rauch’s addition to the cast was significant. Alongside Mayim Bialik’s Amy, who also joined Big Bang Theory in season 3, the hit comedy expanded to tell narratives that spoke to female viewers. One of the most significant was how Bernadette adjusted to motherhood, experiencing a push-and-pull that could not be easily categorized as one sentiment. Looking back at her time on the CBS sitcom, Rauch says she really appreciated how the series examined Bernadette’s journey with motherhood.
Speaking with Cafe Mom, Rauch traced the arc that Bernadette went on. From her initial uncertainty about whether she wanted to be a mom and then, later, loving her job and knowing that she had a family at home. The actress noted that, in her view, this nuance reflected an important reality that motherhood was not the same for everyone and she felt that The Big Bang Theory did a good job of bringing that to the screen. Rauch’s quote (via CinemaBlend) is included below.
“I thought that Big Bang did such a wonderful job with the Bernadette motherhood storyline. Starting with just her struggle not knowing if she wanted to be a mom, when she was pregnant if she would be a good mom, had those maternal instincts. And then the push and pull of loving her job and knowing that she was going to go back to it and also the struggle of knowing she had this family at home that her heart was with. And I love that it just opened up the conversation. Because, as every human being is different, every mom is different. There’s no one size fits all motherhood.”
Parenthood, and especially motherhood, is often easily waved away in sitcoms and babies have been seen as inconvenient for plot purposes. Fans will remember how Rachel on Friends, though they’d incorporate her infant daughter Emma for an episode here and there, was generally able to go about her day as though she’d never had a child. The writers would even write jokes about this on occasion. Based on her remarks, it’s clear that Rauch feels Big Bang Theory went in the opposite direction by delving into Bernadette’s motherhood in all of its complexities.
As she moves forward to her next project, executive producing and starring in a reboot of Night Court for NBC, Rauch will hopefully keep that nuance in mind. So many sitcoms go for the easy laughs at the expense of character growth, something which The Big Bang Theory was certainly dinged for during its lengthy run. But, from the perspective of one of its breakout stars, the show approached an important subject with an admirable degree of sensitivity and care.