If you haven’t yet heard, some of network TV’s biggest stars took a major step in the name of gender equality. The five leads of The Big Bang Theory took pay cuts so that their female co-stars could have higher checks.
Apparently, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg make $1 million per episode, compared to the $200,000 that Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch make.
Can someone tell me how that is okay?
It is true that Mayim and Melissa joined the cast in later seasons, but they became integral characters to the program, and their 20% pay does not reflect that. It’s hard to ignore that this issue reflects major flaws in the media pay system as it relates to gender. Granted, Kaley Cuoco is female but she is part of the original cast.
But this still irritates me to my core. It makes me furious at the network (Hi CBS) that this kind of pay disparity is allowed based on what characters are deemed “more important.” I can understand that a major lead will earn more than a minor secondary character, but the difference in the importance of these particular characters does not denote an 80% pay difference in my opinion.
The leads earn one million dollars per episode. Is CBS really going to tell me that primetime’s most-watched network can’t find some spare cash to do what is right? If you are going to be a leader in the media, be a leader across all facets.
This also irritates me that this is still a discussion that needs to be had. Can we all say it together?
EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK, PLEASE. Caps felt necessary for that statement.
Again, I truly admire the actions that the cast took to make sure that their counterparts were fairly reimbursed. But I feel like now we are praising their act rather than being mad at why they had to do it in the first place.
Again, perhaps this doesn’t always reflect gender issues, but overall this equal pay issue is still just that. An issue. And I don’t mean to rag on CBS exclusively. This could happen on any network.
For example, this happened back in the day on NBC with everyone’s favorite show, Friends. Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer began earning more once Ross and Rachel became a thing. In a similar move to The Big Bang Theory, they ended up taking pay cuts so all six friends would earn the same pay.
Like Cuoco, Jennifer Aniston is a woman. So to reiterate, it isn’t always a gender issue (although it frequently is). It boils down to how we value people and their perceived importance.
I continue to applaud the work of actors taking steps in the right direction, and continue to be annoyed at the networks who allow it to get to this point. Until we say equal pay for equal works, my blood still boils.
Allie Bush is a Contributing Writer at Femestella. She is interested in creating and sharing entertaining and engaging content, in whatever form it may take. She is a proud TV junkie and in her spare time can be found watching late night talk shows, talking about Chrissy Teigen or Amy Poehler, or eating off of other people’s plates.