Long before she started her 10-year run as Penny — no last name yet — on The Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco was already walking red carpets. As a mere teenager, the actor starred alongside sitcom icon John Ritter on 8 Simple Rules, playing one of Ritter’s children. At the time, Ritter’s fame from 70s comedy Three’s Company was still so ingrained in viewer memories that the cast did a send-up of the earlier show, with Cuoco playing a version of Chrissy Snow — The Inquisitr posted the clip awhile back.
Now that The Big Bang Theory is starting work on Season 10, fans can get excited to finally meet Penny’s mom: and it’s a bit of an 8 Simple Rules reunion. As Variety reported in July, Katey Sagal, who played Ritter’s wife and Cuoco’s mom, will appear as Penny’s parent in a new episode this fall. Jack McBrayer is cast as Cuoco’s often-mentioned, never seen, brother.
Last week Kaley posted a reunion shot of her 8 Simple Rules co-stars on Instagram. As The Daily Mail reported, part of her caption, “someone is smiling down on us,” probably refers to Ritter. He passed away unexpectedly in 2003 as the show’s second season was just getting underway. His death was written into the show. James Garner joined the cast as the children’s grandfather.
This is not the first time the 8 Simple Rules siblings have gotten together since the show ended in 2005. Last year Us Magazine reported the trio had a reunion of sorts on the one-year anniversary of James Garner’s passing. The now-grown kids — of the Hennessy family on the show — held up photos of their lost loved one.
When news broke of Sagal’s casting as Cuoco’s mother, Kaley was quick to react positively on Instagram, calling the moment “full circle” while posting an affectionate photo of the two actors together.
Entertainment Tonight reported that Penny’s mom will come on to The Big Bang Theory with her own backstory, as she’s been living her own life while Penny has been working at the Cheesecake Factory in Los Angeles. Penny of course has moved on to a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep and married her longtime love. Her mother has been dealing with her own family issues, ones often alluded to the show, according to executive producer Steve Molaro.
“There will be a little reunion there, which we’re excited about. She’s going to be a little bit of a neurotic character because she’s spent her life with her troubled son, Randall, who has been in and out of jail and has had some issues with dealing drugs. So we’re going to start to dive into that.”
As for that sales job, Penny told Leonard last season she’s not thrilled with it, but wants to be an adult and see it through. Variety reported that a Comic-Con fan asked Molaro how Penny’s job situation will play out in Season 10, and the producer was elusive about details, although he did say it would be explored.
“We’re still figuring things out; I think she’s in an interesting and relatable place. She’s going to start to weigh her options.”
Although Penny’s acting career, which never amounted to much to begin with, is behind her, Molaro said she may show up for fans of her cult favorite movie, Serial Ape-ist. She may make side cash “signing autographs at small conventions.”
The showrunner was also mum about when the show might wrap up. Ten seasons is a long run for any series — few have made it that far.Friends went on for 10 seasons, but other Chuck Lorre series — the same creator behind Big Bang — have gone longer, including Two and a Half Men.
The Big Bang Theory airs new episodes on CBS. Season 10 debuts in September.
[Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images]