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The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is a comedy about two physicists Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper who live and work together in Pasadena, California. They live a comfortable geeky existence until attractive wannabe actress Penny moves in across the hall. CBS 2007-???

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Episode 6 - The Cornhusker Vortex

25 May 2016

Synopsis: Leonard worries that Penny doesn’t want him to meet her friends. So he asks Sheldon to teach him the rules of football so that he can watch the next game with Penny’s friends. Meanwhile Raj becomes frustrated with Howard’s friendship when he continually abandons him to chase women.

The Good: Again Leonard’s relationship with Penny provides a good logical sit com plot: Leonard the geek worrying about fitting in with her jock friends.

Sheldon generally works best when his emotions aren’t the focus of a story. Standing on the sidelines commenting on Leonard’s life he manages to enliven the episode and get his jokes in (see Comic Highlight). He adds a level of plausibility to the show with his chatter: “Cats however refuse to wear sporting apparel. My sister found that out the hard way.” His entire musing on his football education in Texas is such a simple but effective part of the story. His matter of fact statements reveal all sorts of things about his upbringing, making him seem more real and provide humour to compliment Leonard’s worries. Having a Cylon toaster is a nice joke for fans of Battlestar Galactica.

The Bad: The downside to the Leonard story is once more a very basic sit com idea gets completely misused. This story should have told us where Penny and Leonard’s relationship was going. He was clearly going to struggle to fit in with her friends but what was going to be the result of that? Was she going to work really hard to get them to like him because he is so important to her? Was he going to demonstrate his value to her or his love for her and win over her friends that way?

Not only do these questions not get addressed but her friends are clearly faceless props. We have still to meet one real friend of Penny’s and it makes her character seem less real. So with that fakeness in place Leonard then embarrasses himself in a thoroughly Sheldon-like manner and can’t seem to see what he is doing wrong. So he looks stupid and she looks fake. Great. Finally he just walks out the door instead of any resolution or character development being addressed. Why should you care? Because this wasn’t funny or interesting as a result.

Speaking of which, the Raj and Howard plot seemed entirely superfluous. They certainly live out their “ersatz homosexual marriage” (As Leonard’s mother called it in 215) in this episode but they don’t do anything with it. We don’t get to the route of why Howard’s behaviour bothers him. Instead we just get him saying “douche” over and over. Their arguments meander around the same basic joke, that they are behaving like a couple and it gets pretty dull. With some character development this plot could have meant something.

The writers need to protect Sheldon. His question about why Leonard doesn’t just go to prostitutes for sex doesn’t fit his character. You would think it might. He is so logical and oblivious to normal social expectations that why wouldn’t he see an exchange of money for sex as a good solution. But that is to ignore the side of Sheldon that is incredibly hygienic, knowledgeable about the law and just knowledgeable in general. As in his explanation of football, Sheldon clearly does understand how society works. When he quotes knowledge he generally quotes it out of a text book, he doesn’t tear up received wisdom all the time. So this suggestion painted him as too socially unaware and rather missed the point of his character.

Comic Highlight: Leonard discovers the surprising fact that Sheldon knows all about football. Sheldon explains that his Texan upbringing meant he could not avoid learning all about it. In fact his father would force him to come watch the games “from the time I was five till I went off to College. The longest seven years of my life.”

In Conclusion: This is certainly not the only show that is misunderstanding, fundamentally, what makes a sit com work. But in some ways it is the most frustrating because they are the closest to being a traditional sit com.

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  • I think it's ok for Sheldon proposing a prostitute. Your reasons stand firm in regards with himself doing it, but other humans are so low-life and far below his completely reasonable level it should easily work for them.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Gilbert, 25/05/2016 2:08am (3 years ago)

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