Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and recently Bob Heart Abishola, what do these hit shows have in common? They were all born out of the imagination of one person, Chuck Lorre! Chuck Lorre is one of the most potent and successful TV producers and authors in the USA.
The wizard of sitcom Chuck Lorre created or co-created many of the shows that made us laugh for years. His sitcoms and series have been bestsellers for decades and are remarkable in their diversity.
Perhaps his name is not as famous as the shows he created, but Chuck Lorre has been responsible for many of the hit sitcoms on US television for more than 20 years! At times when the sitcom genre seemed to be near its end, Chuck Lorre kept on creating hit after hit like Two and a Half Men (2003-2015), The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019) and Mom (2013-2021).
It is not every day that we witness the success of such a talent, so what is Chuck Lorre’s story, and how did he make it in Hollywood? Let’s find out!
Who is Chuck Lorre?
Chuck Lorre’s story began in New York in 1952; that’s when he was born. Even though Chuck Lorre has reached the top of the television industry, his path was not preordained. The “king of sitcoms”, whose real name is Charles Michael Levine, was initially a singer-songwriter in the entertainment business. It is said that he has written several songs, including the song “French Kiss”, with which Debbie Harry (Blondie).
In the 1980s, he decided to pursue his penchant for telling stories, something he has been fascinated with for years. He began working as an author for DIC and Marvel Productions and worked on the music for various animated series.
After about ten years as a writer, Chuck Lorre finally produced his own first comedy series, Frannie’s Turn (1992). It was centred on a housewife who finds life maddening. The show dealt with the themes such as the battle of the sexes, culture clash and generation gap. The sitcom, however, had only a short life span; it was discontinued after only five weeks. But that was only a minor setback because, after that, it was all uphill for Chuck Lorre.
Finding the Right Formula for Success!
In the early 1990s, he started to find his path to success, creating several hit shows like Grace Under Fire (1993-1998), which was nominated for a Golden Globe, the first two seasons of the critically acclaimed sitcom Cybill (1995-1998), which received a Primetime Emmy Award and two Golden Globes.
In 1997 came Chuck Lorre’s big hit Dharma & Greg (1997-2002); the show was an absolute hit! Everybody loved it, and it kept on earning nominations and awards. In 2000, Chuck started up his own production company Chuck Lorre Productions, which took part in many of his shows. Also, in the same year, and after working with different networks, it was time for Lorre’s long-term partnership with Warner Bros. TV.
Three years after the deal, Lorre’s fifth hit sitcom saw the light of day Two and a Half Men (2003-2015). The comic gem was the highest-rated sitcom in the USA in 2003.
After the huge success of Two and a Half Men, everybody was wondering what Chuck Lorre would come up with next. But he didn’t disappoint; in fact, his next project turned out to be his most successful sitcom, The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019). Lorre co-created the show with another brilliant mind Bill Prady.
The show was everything audiences hoped it would be and a little bit more! It quickly made its way to be the highest-rated comedy series in the United States at the time! In 2018, it was the turn of The Kominsky Method (2018-2021), with Michael Douglas in the leading role. The show earned Lorre his third Golden Globes, the first two he won were for his work on Roseanne (1993), where he served as a writer, and Cybill (1996).
As an executive producer, Lorre also worked on hit shows like Mike & Molly (2010-2016), created by Mark Roberts and Mom (2013-2021). Then came Bob Hearts Abishola (2019-), and most recently, How to Be a Bookie (2023-)
It is worth mentioning that, in 2012, the successful producer was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Three years earlier, he had already received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
One of Lorre’s trademarks became his so-called “vanity cards” with self-deprecating and witty texts, which he placed at the end of each new episode of his series. They were published as a book in 2012 under the title “What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Bitter”.
Chuck Lorre’s Most Memorable Works
Let’s go through some of the best and most memorable works by the legendary Chuck Lorre.
Dharma & Greg (1997-2002)
The unusual union between the hippie yoga teacher Dharma and the conservative lawyer Greg was just the right thing for the two of them. When the two accidentally meet in the underground, they know immediately that they are meant for each other. However, their parents do not understand the liaison at all at first, but as the two try to start their life together, they give us plenty to laugh about!
Dharma & Greg was aired on ABC, and it ran for five seasons. The show was a great success, earning murmurous nominations and awards. It was nominated for eight Golden Globes, six Emmy Awards, and six Satellite Awards.
Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)
One of Chuck Lorre’s most successful television shows is CBS’s Two and a Half Men, which premiered in 2003 and aired for twelve seasons. The series starred Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and by Angus T. Jones. The story is about Charlie Harper, a wild but successful Hollywood jingle writer, and his brother Alan who moves in with Charlie because Alan’s divorce has left him with little money. There is also the half-man Alan’s son Jake. We follow the Two and a Half Men as they navigate life and their endless hilarious situations!
The show was nominated for many prestigious awards and won several, including 46 Primetime Emmy Awards, two golden globes, and Favourite TV Comedy at the 35th People’s Choice Awards.
However, the show hit a controversial note in 2011 when Charlie Sheen had a public meltdown. Sheen was not kind to Lorre, and the pair had a major falling out. When Sheen went to rehab, CBS planned to cancel the show but brought it back for a few more seasons, killing off Charlie Harper and choosing Ashton Kutchner as the new owner of Harper’s Malibu home, where he allows Alan and Jake to continue living.
It is worth mentioning that Lorre used his famous “Vanity Cards” to express his issues with Charlie Sheen. The show is also credited by many for paving the way for Chuck Lorre’s following hit shows like The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Mom.
The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)
Here comes Chuck Lorre’s Big Bang, aka The Big Bang Theory, which aired on CBS for twelve seasons. The show ended in 2019, and to this day, the fans of the award-winning comedy still miss the show and its characters. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady created the show with a group of nerdy scientists with few social skills who work at Cal Tech and meet in their flats.
The show follows Leonard and Sheldon, who are two bright but socially awkward young physicists. Outside the lab and their messy flat, there is a world to discover, and the two become very aware of it when they run into their new neighbour, Penny, a girl whose charm is as obvious as their intelligence. The situation, however, gets complicated when one of the two falls in love with the girl.
The show was a Big Bang in every way; even though its first season wasn’t that well-received, the following seasons received rave reviews making the show one of the top ten shows, and in its eleven seasons, it was the number one most famous comedy show! In 2013, the show was 52 on the all-time TV Guide’s 60 Best Series list.
With the critical and commercial acclaim came several awards; the show received seven Emmy awards, and it was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy Award from 2011 to 2014. Jim Parsons— who played the annoying, yet for some reason we all loved him Sheldon Cooper— won four Emmys of his own and a Golden Globe as well.
Known for his love for crossover, rumour has it that The Big Bang Theory was created with Johnny Galecki, who plays the role of Leonard, in mind. Galecki played Darlene’s boyfriend in one of Chuck Lorre’s old shows, Roseanne. But that’s not all; Lorre brought other actors from his other shows to TBBT— that’s what the show fans call it— including Laurie Metcalf and Sarah Gilbert from the show Roseanne and Christine Baranski from the show Cybill.
Thanks to its massive success, the show was perfect for having spin-offs, like Lorre’s next show, which was Young Sheldon (2017), which focuses on Sheldon Cooper’s backstory. Like the original story, Young Sheldon has been going strong for many seasons. Also, recently it was announced that Chuck Lorre is working on a new spin-off from TBBT.
Mike & Molly (2010–2016)
Mike & Molly debuted on CBS in 2010 and aired for six seasons. The show focuses on a couple who meet in a Chicago Overeater Anonymous group and fall in love. Billy Gasdell played Mike, a Chicago police officer, while Melissa McCarthy played Molly Bigs, a teacher who later leaves her job to become a writer. The show had a large supporting cast, including Swoosie Kurtz, Reno Wilson and Katy Mixon. McCarthy won the Primetime Emmy Award in 2011 and the People’s Choice Award in 2016, her role.
Before joining the show, Melissa McCarthy was already in The Groundlings (an improvisational and sketch comedy ensemble located in California) and had some success in the film industry, but Mike & Molly and the 2011 film Bridesmaids helped her become the movie star she is now.
Mom was created by Chuck Lorre, Gemma Baker and Gordoleski and debuted on CBS in 2018. The show stars Anna Faris as Christy Plunket and Allison Janney as her mother, Bonnie. In the show, they are both healing alcoholics and drug addicts who must learn to rebuild their relationship as they face life’s daily struggles—each season presented a new year of Christy’s sobriety.
The show won critical acclaim for its comedy portraying the struggles of addiction, relapse, overdose, cancer, teen pregnancy, rape and relationship repair. As in many of his other shows, Lorre has brought in a former cast member, namely Mimi Kennedy, who played Marjorie, Christy and Bonnie’s mentor and friend. She once played Dharma’s free-spirited mother on Dharma and Greg. Allison Janney scored a Primetime Emmy Award for her role in the show.
The Kominsky Method (2018-2021)
The Kominsky Method aired on Netflix for three seasons, and after only one season, it had already won a Golden Globe for Best Comedy or TV Musical. Chuck Lorre created the show and served as a writer and producer as well.
The show follows the life of Michael Douglas as Sandy Kominsky, an old Hollywood acting teacher who succeeded for a brief time as an actor, and Alan Arkin as Norman Newlander, his agent and friend. Thanks to the amazing chemistry between the two veteran actors, Douglas and Arkin, the show managed to get a lot of audience and critics’ attention.
Since the early 1990s, Chuck Lorre has made a name for himself by creating, writing and producing some of the best comedies on television. Known for his wit and style, Chuck Lorre’s television shows managed to be memorable and leave a print. For years, Chuck Lorre made his way between different sets, their respective writers’ rooms and editing bays, overseeing details as small as the colour of a character’s blazer and printing on a Beach towel, giving us a final product of fun comedies we can always rely on to cheer us up!