The Big Bang Theory, created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, became a hugely popular comedy series over its 12-season run. However, the show had some challenges in its early stages. After submitting the original pilot, CBS requested changes to the ensemble cast. The initial lineup consisted of Jim Parsons as Sheldon and Johnny Galecki as Leonard, but other characters like Penny, Howard, and Raj were added later. One character, Gilda, portrayed by Iris Bahr, was ultimately scrapped from the show.
Gilda was meant to be a female scientist working at Caltech, providing another connection to the world of science. The original plan involved exploring romantic storylines between Gilda and the two lead physicists. Unfortunately, Gilda didn't fit with the overall vibe that CBS was aiming for with The Big Bang Theory. Eventually, the character was split into two and transformed into the male characters Raj and Howard.
The show faced criticism for its humor being racist, sexist, and offensive. Sheldon's lack of social awareness often led to demeaning comments towards characters like Penny. Kaley Cuoco's Penny, who replaced Amanda Walsh's Katie, was depicted as a ditzy blonde and often became the target of jokes. This portrayal fueled criticisms of misogyny in the show.
Had Gilda been kept in the series, it could have addressed these criticisms and improved the portrayal of Penny. Gilda's presence would have provided support for Penny when she faced ridicule from Sheldon and others. Additionally, Gilda would have represented women in the scientific field, countering the notion that science was exclusively dominated by men.
While Gilda was removed from the show, her essence found partial representation through other characters. Leslie Winkle, played by Sara Gilbert, shared similarities with Gilda, as she worked with the boys at Caltech and had a casual relationship with Leonard. Later in the series, Bernadette and Amy were introduced as additional female characters who excelled in the scientific field, further filling the void created by Gilda's absence.
In summary, the original character Gilda could have addressed The Big Bang Theory's problematic portrayal of Penny and added a strong female presence in the scientific community. However, Gilda was ultimately removed from the show, and her role was partly filled by other characters like Leslie, Bernadette, and Amy.