Viewers were in shock and mourning last week at the news of the death of Mrs. Wolowitz. Writers can say they’re still working on how to deal with her passing, but for diehard Big Bang Theory fans, Mrs. Wolowitz is gone and no amount of clever writing is going to change that.
For those non-Bangers, Mrs. Wolowitz was the mother of Howard Wolowitz, a raw, shrieking-voiced matriarch viewers never saw but always heard. Dogs down the street could hear her bellow. And she was played by the late Carol Ann Susi who died last week after a brief battle with cancer. Susi once said she had the best job because she worked with a fabulous TV family and didn’t have to wear make-up at work.
But what was it about this nails-on-a-chalkboard voice from down the hall that made the writers constantly bring her back?
She wasn’t exactly warm. She wasn’t exactly insightful. Yet Mrs. Wolowitz was an important part of who this group of geeks are: intelligent, socially-awkward with some serious mama issues.
Leonard desperately wants to be mothered but his world-renowned psychiatrist mother would rather analyze him than hug him. Sheldon was smothered in simple Texan love and support that he claims to disdain but secretly still desires. Raj’s relationship with his parents is limited by cultural differences and a webcam, leaving him especially bereft and alone.
And then there’s Howard. After his father abandoned them when he was still a child, Howard was raised by a needy single mother who couldn’t let go any more than he could. Howard was a brilliant engineer who went to the moon and yet, until recently, couldn’t move out of his mom’s house. She could have been a one-note joke for the writers.
However, behind the bellow was a mother’s love. Despite Howard’s big talk – and possibly because of his somewhat offensive one-liners – nobody was particularly interested in the skinny little Jewish guy with the Beatles mop-top hair and the tightest pants known to mankind. But that didn’t matter to his mom. She would always be there, waiting for him to come home – usually with a complaint or a question about where he had been.
So we knew she loved him. That’s why when Howard and his wife briefly moved into her house, Bernadette developed a similar screech. It was how they showed affection and acceptance in that family. And it made us smile.
Because it was also the voice that said, “No matter what you do, I won’t leave you.” It said, “No matter what anyone says, I think you’re just fine the way you are.” This was the voice that reminds us to come home when we’re lost or alone.
And now that voice has been silenced.
Personally, I think the writers should let Mrs. W pass away suddenly. Perhaps Howard’s father might come back for the funeral. One can hope.
But no one can replace Carol Ann Susi’s grating “Howaaaaard!”