The show is centered on five characters: roommates Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, two physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); Penny, a blonde waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall; and Leonard and Sheldon's equally geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali. The geekiness and intellect of the four guys is contrasted for comic effect with Penny's social skills and common sense. Three other supporting characters have also been promoted to starring roles: Leslie Winkle, a physicist colleague at Caltech and, at different times, a lover of both Leonard and Howard; Bernadette Rostenkowski, Howard's fiancée, who is a microbiologist and part-time waitress alongside Penny; and Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist who joins the group after being matched to Sheldon on a dating website.
The show is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions. In August 2009, the sitcom won the best comedy series TCA award and Jim Parsons (Sheldon) won the award for individual achievement in comedy.In 2010, the show won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedy, while Parsons won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. On January 16, 2011, Parsons was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical, an award that was presented by co-star Kaley Cuoco (Penny). On September 18, 2011, Parsons was again awarded an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.