When CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” wrapped last season, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) was making some big changes — specifically proposing to his girlfriend, Amy (Mayim Bialik).
But behind the scenes, the show went through some changes as well: Steve Holland, who first joined the writers room in 2009, stepped up to take the reins as showrunner after Steve Molaro shifted to the network’s new spin-off, “Young Sheldon.”
“In taking over as showrunner, my least concern is putting my stamp on the show,” Holland tells Variety. “These characters, over 10 seasons, have honestly grown and changed and taken on a life of their own, and my job here is to honor and protect these characters.”
When Holland first talked with series co-creator Chuck Lorre about season 11, one of the things he admits to being concerned about was what stories there could be left to tell. But with Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) being new parents, as well as Sheldon’s pending proposal, he quickly saw a wealth of new possibilities that were exciting to him.
“Chuck’s piece of advice was ‘Don’t be afraid to try new things. The worst thing you can do in season 11 in a show is fall back on what’s always worked in the past,'” Holland says.
But of course he says the show will address the proposal — and Amy’s answer — right at the top of the season. “Even though it’s a cliffhanger, I think most people assume the answer will probably be yes,” he admits, though noting Ramona (Riki Lindhome) will be back. And since she kissed Sheldon, that could throw a “wrinkle” in the couple’s journey. Plus, he adds, “I think we dealt with [Amy’s] answer in a way that felt the most real and natural to the character,” he adds.
One of the unique challenges Holland will have this year is finding ways to still bring all of the characters into storylines together, given the fact that most of them are in committed relationships that will require time spent one-on-one with a spouse, as opposed to a big group of friends. The fact that many of them work together helps, though. “Obviously the proposal at the end of season 10 gave us a lot of energy of things to do going into the new season, but honestly there’s just been interesting things going on in the science world of real life that’s been really fun to bring into the show,” Holland says. “It’s nice that we’ve built out their world a little bit at this point, and we do have some great science guest stars in the first few episodes, too.”
“The Big Bang Theory” season 11 premieres on CBS Sept. 25 at 8 p.m.