The Wife:

I really enjoyed the Sheldon-Penny War of 2008, not only because I felt like this plotline was an adequate exploration of Sheldon’s various and sundry personality quirks, but also because it really helped push forward something I think the show has consistently been improving upon: making Penny a character.

I’ve written before about how, in the first season, I had to keep reminding myself why I was watching this show. Sure, it had some great jokes, but I found the concept so repelling, especially because the one female character in this universe (until the addition of Leslie Winkle) was so . . . painfully . . . dumb, stereotypical and characterless. But quickly, season two has given Penny an actual personality, substance and moved her from the realm of the stereotype into the realm of normalcy. As EW recently observed, we have to sympathize with her now, because she’s our guide to the geek world. She represents those of us who aren’t quite so geeky. (Which is what the show should have done with her at first, instead of trying to make her into some lame superfoil/object of lust.)

So to see Penny break down the systems Sheldon has so rigorously constructed for his life and attempt to show him how people in the real world (who do not suffer from such intense obsessive compulsive disorders) function was an amazing feat for her character. She grew by leaps and bounds for me tonight and I’m happy to see Kaley Cuoco really have to stretch herself in this role beyond looking pretty and blinking in disbelief, as her part often requires.

The Sheldon-Penny War of 2008 begins when she attempts to eat one of his onion rings, causing the rest of the gang to panic as though she had just touched a time-release button to detonate a nuclear bomb. Even when she puts the onion ring back, Sheldon knows and announces that this is her second strike, the first of which occurred unbeknownst to her when she sent Sheldon a Lolcat, which he, strangely, does not find funny. (I wonder, would it be funny if the Lolcat were singing the “Soft Kitty” lullaby Sheldon loves so much? I bet it would be . . .) Howard and Leonard congratulate Penny, in part, on being accepted by Sheldon as a member of the group and thus subject to his bizarre rules. (I clapped my hands with glee when Howard initiated her the way the freaks do in Tod Browning’s Freaks: “We accept her! One of us! One of us!”) When she sits in his seat and refuses to move, Sheldon announces this act as her third strike against him, a move with leads to her banishment from the apartment.

In retaliation, Penny banishes Sheldon from The Cheesecake Factory, proclaiming her service section as “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Sheldon.” Sheldon forces Penny to serve him by talking to her manager, and she strikes back by disrupting his Saturday night laundry ritual, which must occur every Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. Despite Howard’s warning that Sheldon is “one lab accident away from being a super villain,” Penny refuses to relent, even when Sheldon manages to do his laundry by any means necessary, those means being hanging Penny’s wet laundry from the power lines outside their building.

“When you understand the laws of physics, anything is possible.” – Sheldon

Leonard, hoping to end the war that’s making everyone’s lives miserable, secretly hands Penny Sheldon’s kryptonite: his mother’s phone number. Mrs. Cooper then calls and forces her son to apologize to Penny and rescind her strikes, thereby ending the war.

The B story for this episode involved something I can’t believe more men haven’t yet caught on to: the hypnotic powers of America’s Next Top Model. When Penny introduces Raj and Howard to the show and points out that the girls all live in a house somewhere in LA, Wallowitz wonders how it is possible that he lives within driving distance of a house filled with beautiful women. I immediately wondered why Howard hadn’t tried to find the Playboy Mansion, which also seems like a plausible place to pick up babes, but then he noted that the crushing blow to a young model’s self-esteem when kicked out of ANTM house would drive her to desperation and straight to a waiting Howard. He and Raj thus set out to find the house, hiring aerospace satellites to photograph it and locate it on Google Earth (Registered Trademark).

Uh, hello there, model wannabes. Is one of you Mrs. Wallowitz?

Uh, hello there, model wannabes. Is one of you Mrs. Wallowitz?

When they arrive, finally, at the house, pretending to be cable repairmen, they’re greeted by ANTM Cycle 11’s Analeigh and Samantha the Retarded Troll Doll. I presume that the Analeigh won an acting challenge that was never aired and chose Sam as her companion for the win. This leads me ultimately to one question: Why, Tyra, why would you deprive me of the glory that is a Top Model acting challenge? They’re never good! And that’s precisely why I want to see them! I hope footage of said missing acting challenge ends up on YouTube somewhere in the world, because I really need that kind of ridiculous.

The Husband:

Oh, honey, I’m definitely not the only male hypnotized by HIMYM. There was apparently a secret sect at my university that would gather wherever they could to watch the show, and only truly discussed it amongst themselves. I didn’t watch ANTM at the time – at least, not when I lived on-campus – so I was not privy to the specific conversations at said gatherings, but while many males may not talk openly with non-fans about the show, they weren’t ashamed of it, either.

But one fact is true: I don’t know any jock or “Alpha Male” who watches the show or has admitted to it. Usually it’s theater kids (of both sexual preferences), those who go to the same school as their sister/cousin, stoners and surfers. At least at my SoCal university.

Point is, many straight men have caught onto the hypnotic power of ANTM, but only The Big Bang Theory is willing to admit it. (And monologist Mike Daisey. He admits to watching it, too, and he’s straight/married.)