Nerd-celebrating CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory wraps up its ninth season tonight. Whether you love it, hate it, or just tolerate it, the show's ballooned into an unstoppable ratings juggernaut and become the biggest half-hour comedy series in the country in the coveted 18-49 bracket. It's found success in a cocktail of familiar sitcom tropes, geek culture around science and pop culture, and the eccentricities of its socially inept characters. Here's how you should tune into tonight's finale for free, in real time, if you hadn't already nailed down your own strategy.
How to stream it live, for free
You read that right. If you need a viewing solution, you'll want to head over to CBS All Access. You can even do it on the day-of to watch The Big Bang Theory (or any other show) live as it airs, and it should take less than 15 minutes to set everything up. CBS All Access gives you a one-week free trial available on several devices including your standard desktop web browser, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. After that week the standard rate is $5.99/month, but you can cancel after sampling, if needed.
Failing that, if you have any TV set, it's on CBS -- among the most basic of basic cable stations. Try finding either good ol' fashioned rabbit ears or look into these other options if you don't have an internet connection.
Before you do all that, let's catch up...
To radically oversimplify matters, The Big Bang Theory is a comedy about nerds living in Pasadena. They collect action figures and Justice League posters, attend Q&A screenings for Joss Whedon's Avengers films, and often express their opinions or emotions in unsubtle ways. Take Sheldon Cooper, the show's breakout role, played by Jim Parsons. A genius-level intellect who struggles with empathy, it took Sheldon years to have sex ("coitus," as he puts it) with his girlfriend Amy and follows up his jokes with "Bazinga!" (you're welcome, WB and John Oliver).
Cooper lives with Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), an experimental physicist who at the start of season nine married their neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco) in Las Vegas. The key tension of the season finale should come from Penny and Leonard preparing to formalize their marriage with a larger ceremony, executive producer Steven Molaro told The Hollywood Reporter.
"We leave [the season] in typical Big Bang fashion -- on bit of a cliffhanger with Leonard, Penny and Sheldon in the living room making sense of everything that's going on," Molaro said in the interview.