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The Big Bang Theory





Bob Hoose
Paul Asay
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Since its inception in 2007, the magnetic polar opposites of sexy and geeky have kept CBS’ The Big Bang Theory in a relatively simple and consistent orbit around Leonard’s lust for young and pretty neighbor Penny. Leonard, the less nerdy of the two physicists living in apartment 4A, longed for the coital contact he and his friends feverishly spoke of in private. And he does eventually come up with the right equation to make that happen. Sex and other such shenanigans finally lead the two into marriage.

Leonard’s apartment-mate Sheldon, meanwhile, has found “solace” in the arms and brainwaves of Amy Farrah Fowler, his wife, and somewhat dour neuroscientist who appreciates Sheldon’s mind almost as much as Sheldon does. But we sometimes suspect that Klingon Boggle, Halo tournaments and Mordor texts written in elvish script are more his true objects of desire.

As the years have passed, friend Howard Wolowitz also found—and actually married—Bernadette Rostenkowski, which means that most of the show’s initial main characters have a main squeeze now. The only exception is astrophysicist Raj, a guy who, until Season 6, wasn’t even able to talk with women unless he was drunk.

“I’m not sure what Chuck Lorre [the show’s creator] has against smart people,” Chicago Tribune blogger Maureen Ryan wrote early on in the show’s run, “but with the foul sitcom The Big Bang Theory, he tries to have his revenge against anyone with an IQ above room temperature. … Even if the jokes on this show weren’t tired and mean-spirited, it would be hard to care about any comedy that hates its own lead characters so much.”

The show has grown, in some ways, more respectful since then. And with half the characters married off, it’s become—nearly miraculously for a Chuck Lorre show—less salacious. These characters clearly care for one another and have, to some degree, become livable if not truly lovable. Indeed, some brainiacs have heartily embraced the show.

But while The Big Bang Theory may be relatively better than it used to be, Nielsen’s Law of Lorre is still in effect: Even as it features characters of high intellect and offers some midrange sweetness, the series is still predicated on low humor—sex, swearing, bodily functions and sometimes squalid stereotyping (racially, religiously). Which makes the whole thing about as funny as a chemistry lecture delivered by a guy dressed in high-water pants.

Episode Reviews

Dec. 6, 2018: “The VCR Illumination”

Sheldon is disillusioned when he finds that he and wife Amy’s theory has been disproved by a Russian scientist. Leonard and Penny coach their friends on how to help Sheldon through his “grieving.” Bernadette encourages Howard to pursue his dream of becoming a magician.

Sheldon grapples with the loss of his theory and begins to question everything he’s ever thought. He yells in frustration (believing nothing matters) and makes Amy feel as if he’ll soon question their marriage (he doesn’t). Bernadette encourages Howard to practice magic, but she has difficulty separating the brutal beauty pageant tactics her mother used to use on her (mainly degrading comments) from finding more positive ways to help her husband.

Penny and Leonard flirt and make jokes about sex. Howard warns his wife that there might be pornography on a videotape he previously recorded. Sheldon makes a joke about strippers.

Leonard’s mother is rude to him and clearly favors Sheldon. A woman wishes her husband was dead(instead of a family pet). A shower curtain is accidentally set on fire. The word “h—” is uttered a few times.

The Big Bang Theory – Dec. 10, 2015 “The Earworm Reverberation”

Sheldon is stricken with an earworm and, for a while, thinks he’s going crazy because of it. But he eventually realizes that he’s in love with his one-time girlfriend, Amy. Just as the song is an earworm, he tells her, “You’re my heartworm. The metaphorical kind, not the poodle-killing kind.” Meanwhile, Howard and Raj, who now have an informal rock ‘n’ roll band, stalk their one and only fan.

Howard and Raj soon sour on that one and only fan when they see him pick his nose and eat the resulting goo. Sheldon talks at length about his need to urinate, and is concerned that if he goes crazy he might “test the bounds of public nudity.” (Leonard explains to Penny that this means going barefoot.) Sheldon does something gross with Leonard’s coffee.

Amy talks with Bernadette about perhaps getting intimate with a date (leading to a crude joke). Sheldon and Amy share a couple of long kisses. Amy kisses her date, too. Penny walks around in a nightie.

A dinner features wine. There’s a reference to drug use. Characters say “d–n,” “a–” and misuse God’s name twice.

BigBangTheory: 11-13-2014

“The Septum Deviation”

Leonard schedules surgery to take care of his deviated septum. Sheldon worries that Leonard might die on the table. Raj mourns the fact that his parents, after 40 years of marriage, have decided to split up.

Howard and Bernadette quip about divorce, snipe at each other and ruminate on their own imperfect parents. There’s talk of a lackluster (married) sex life.

A few lies limp through the micro-story. There are jokes about death. Sheldon talks about the many ways Leonard could kick the bucket before or during surgery, including having an artery cut. Someone else talks about chewing his own leg off. Characters say “a–” and misuse God’s name once or twice each.

BigBangTheory: 1282011

“The Speckerman Recurrence”

Leonard agrees to have drinks with a guy who, in high school, bullied him. It seems at first that the bully, Speckerman, has matured, and after he reads a list of all the evil things he did to Leonard back in the day (throwing him into a women’s restroom while naked, putting laxatives in his food and claiming to have sex with his mother), he apologizes. Leonard accepts and allows Speckerman to sleep off his drunkenness at his apartment. “It kind of rekindles your faith in the basic goodness of people,” he says. But when Speckerman sobers up, he’s the same jerk he always was.

Meanwhile, Penny realizes that she was a bully, and she tries to make up for her past misdeeds by giving clothes to charity. She says she feels like “Mother Teresa—except for the virgin part.” But she winds up taking clothes from the donation bin instead.

Bullying behavior—much of it referred to in crass, even graphic terms—is played for laughs. We hear about guys having their scrotums stapled, suffering through wedgies that damaged their testicles and getting Hershey’s Kisses superglued to their nipples. A female character makes vaguely lesbian remarks to Penny. Someone makes fun of a stutterer. Sheldon contemplates murder. Characters say “h‑‑‑,” “a‑‑” and “p‑‑‑”; they misuse God’s name a half-dozen times.

BigBangTheory: 9302010

“The Cruciferous Vegetables Amplification”

With typical geekmeister outlandishness, Sheldon crunches the numbers of his existence and realizes that his potential life expectancy falls just shy of an important point in the future—namely a singularity where his consciousness can be safely transferred into a robotic body.

And so the panicked physicist does what every health-conscious individual would do in order to extend his life: He decides to go jogging with Penny (which delivers pratfalls and shots of the shapely girl stretching in a formfitting outfit). He starts eating loads of vegetables (which offers up a series of fart gags). And he builds a surrogate robot to represent himself to the outside world while he hides safely in his room (which gives us another over-the-top implausibility and, of all things, a joke about sphincters).

Raj admits to spying on Penny with high-powered binoculars. Penny tries to raise money by selling the guys her underwear. A few profanities—including “h‑‑‑” “d‑‑n” and misuses of God’s name—pepper the dialogue.

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Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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