The Wife:

When The Big Bang Theory premiered last season, I was skeptical about its ability to grow beyond the heinous stereotypes in which it was based. The first 4 or 5 episodes were really rocky. The geeks were too obtuse to be lovable and I found it odd that Chuck Lorre insisted on putting in a laugh track whenever they said something intelligent, or compared their day-to-day existence to science. Maybe it’s because I find myself to be at home in academic settings where people do indeed talk like that, but something about that “let’s laugh at smart people” concept was really offensive. Where the geeks were too obtuse, their neighbor Penny was far too acute a characterization. In short, she wasn’t one. She was a stereotype of the sort of good looking girl who doesn’t go to college and has never wanted to. She’s allegedly one of those girls who goes to L.A. to become an actress, but it wasn’t until much later in the season that this was actually touched on. At first, she was just this black hole that I couldn’t imagine anyone being attracted to – especially not lovelorn Leonard (Johnny Galecki).

I must inform you that your yogurt is neither pink nor berry flavored.

I must inform you that your yogurt is neither pink nor berry flavored.

But as season one progressed, the show’s character problems worked themselves out. Leonard and Sheldon became so much more real and a lot less heady as the season progressed and Penny became something other than just attractive. She became a real foil to her neighbors across the hall, providing social finesse where they lacked. The show became less about laughing at smart people and more about finding a balance between book smarts and, for lack of a better word, street smarts. Furthermore, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) became pretty much the most ridiculous character I’ve ever seen on TV and I could always count on some legitimate laughs from him, whether it be because he can’t seem to figure out how to soften his words so he doesn’t sound like an asshole all the time, or because he manages to find the inherent flaws in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (“Skynet does not have a teen fetish!”).

Sheldon certainly did not disappoint in last night’s season premiere. The action centered on Leonard and Penny’s budding relationship and their decision to “slow things down.” The geeks interpret this to mean that Leonard is like a bad fish that must be immediately spat out rather than savored, as Leonard posits. The boys analyze this “bad fish paradigm” by looking at Leonard and Penny’s goodnight kiss and noting her lack of intensity, followed by testing the theory by asking for a second date. Sheldon finds out that Penny is hesitant to continue the relationship because she lied to Leonard about finishing community college. She makes Sheldon swear to secrecy, and that’s where Parsons gets to steal the show. His inability to keep Penny’s secret around Leonard causes him to contort his face and body in a number of inhuman ways (which are extra hilarious, given Parsons’ height and thin frame) and hunting down Penny at work to demand, “You must release me from my oath.” Eventually, Sheldon decides that the only way to keep the secret is to not be around Leonard at all. He forces himself upon Howard and Raj, where he becomes so unbearable that both friends eventually return him to Leonard.


Sheldon, if you dont go to sleep, my mom wont let you sleep over anymore.

Sheldon, if you don't go to sleep, my mom won't let you sleep over anymore.


However great Parsons was in this episode, my line of the night goes to Howard:

“That’s kind of an overreaction to a little harmless necrophilia,” on Sheldon packing up after a discussion of the “Body Works” exhibit.

The Husband:

Not all of us geeks are into comic books, nor do we put ourselves in the position of having to share a prop from George Pal’s 1960 film The Time Machine. Not all of us are good at physics, nor are we all riddled with debilitating allergies. Not all of us are entirely socially retarded nor do we hyperventilate when talking to a pretty girl. Not all of us wear shirts with robots on them, nor do we all know who Lee Meriwether is. (Oh wait, I do, in fact, do those last two things. Hell, I’ve met Lee Meriwether and have her autograph on my DVD copy of the Adam West Batman movie.)

But what the show got right last night is that all of us have a working knowledge of Bollywood cinema that we can draw upon at the drop of a hat, thus incurring the wrath of our Indian-American friend and getting him to proclaim that any actress who wasn’t Aishwarya Rai was a cheap prostitute.

Of course.

Clearly, I still find the geek stereotypes on this show to be a little extreme in that we don’t all spout off random facts that are tangential to the conversation at hand or scoff at someone’s ignorance. (Well, not all the time.) Some of the lines are just so incredibly false and geared toward the non-geek crowd that it can grate, and as I am not a fan of Chuck Lorre’s other Monday night CBS sitcom, I am inclined to hate his showrunning abilities.

Still, as my wife said, the show did find its footing about halfway through s1 and moved into more situational comedy and less the “let’s laugh at smart people” bullshit, and I do get more chuckles out of each episode than I would care to admit. But if it weren’t for actor Jim Parsons, I don’t think I would miss it that much if it went off the air.

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