Dee Discusses: The Big Bang Theory Season 5

Posted: December 22, 2011 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Television
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The Big Bang Theory being a popular show on television baffles me. It has from the beginning. A show about geeks and nerds for geeks and nerds being beloved by the mainstream? How is that even possible? At least part of it has to do with the fact the geeks are inheriting the earth with every passing year, but my parents for example love this show. There are plenty of jokes that fly over their heads – and mine when it comes to science – but there’s something about it that’s endlessly charming. Maybe because it’s self-deprecating. It loves its characters but it doesn’t mind mocking them either. It knows the subject material isn’t typical, but it manages to translate for the average viewer. How it manages to do this is beyond me, but it succeeds, and I’m happy about that. Too often bad TV is embraced – ahem Two and a Half Men – and smart TV is ignored – ahem Community. This one managed to slip by. Go figure. I’m a geek and nerd myself, so you can just imagine how much I love everything this show represents. 😀 Spoilers for season five ahead!

The Big Bang Theory is about a group of four scientist friends and the normal pretty girl who befriends them, or that’s what it was in the beginning. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) lives with Sheldon (Jim Parsons), and their friends Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard (Simon Helberg) hang out with them most of the time. The boys are stereotypical geeks/nerds in their tastes and hobbies: they love science, science fiction, fantasy, video games, comic books, and were all tortured in high school. None of them are successful with women, although in their professional life they are successful and very knowledgeable. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in across the hall. She’s a struggling actress who works at the Cheesecake Factory and is stereotypically normal. She’s not vastly book smart, but she is street smart and understands things that go right over their head. She is also a pretty young blonde and naturally the boys are both pleased/confused about why she’d want to spend time with them. Leonard develops a crush on her from the beginning, and eventually they tried a relationship but it didn’t work out when he wanted more than she did. There will probably be a will-they-won’t-they on those two until the end of the show. Unfortunately.

In the past season the show decided to add two new female characters to the regular cast, which was a stroke of brilliance. It was a bit of a sausage fest. That would be Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), Howard’s brilliant and sweet now-fiance, and Amy (Mayim Bialik), the “female Sheldon.” Most of the humor stems from the awkwardness of the men as they navigate the normal world, and Penny’s wry humor about their nerdiness blended with genuine affection for them. Leonard is that ‘nice guy’ who shadowed Penny for awhile mooning after her, Howard is a perverted momma’s boy, and Raj is incapable of talking to any woman without alcohol in him. Sheldon became the breakout character due to his genius, his neurotic OCD habits which everyone laughs/groans over, and how funny Parsons plays the role. The breakout this season is probably Amy, and the fact Mayim has not been nominated for anything is frankly a crime. She’s taken over Sheldon’s role as the funniest person on the cast, because she’s the female Sheldon but she’s more savvy, emotional, and not as unyielding. The girls have evened out the boys now, and it was a great move on the part of the show. They provide a great balance.

This season so far showed the aftermath of Penny sleeping with Raj (which turned out to be a false alarm due to drunkenness), and the aftermath wasn’t … really anything. So that was a big disappointment. It hasn’t been brought up much since. Leonard was uncomfortable, but he shrugged it off fairly quick. There were no lasting consequences, and that makes me wonder what the point of it was in the first place. Raj’s crush on Bernadette also seems to be over, which was another potential point for drama that they’ve brushed aside. Leonard’s long distance relationship with Priya goes on for a few episodes, but anyone who knows about long distance relationships could see where that was headed a mile away. It was clear from her moving it wasn’t going to last long, and when he borderline cheated on her, he confessed and she said she’d done the same. And there didn’t seem to be many consequences from that ending either. There’s trouble between Bernadette and Howard because he says they’ll be living with his mother, and … she gives in on that issue?

Okay obviously there’s already a problem with how I feel about this season: they present genuine problems and do nothing with them. Bernadette wants Howard to grow up and move out of his mother’s house, and then shrugs it off. All matters of conflict last for about half an episode, maybe one, and they are cleared up after that. There’s nothing that makes a real impact. I feel like the show doesn’t take many risks. When they broke up Leonard and Penny for real reasons, that was a risk, although we know it’s inevitable they’ll end up back together. When bad things happen on the show it’s all handled in a fairly adult manner, which is great but also kind of boring. Why don’t grudges last longer? Why is forgiveness given so freely? Maybe it’s because these characters are too devoted to one another, and that’s usually a great thing, but it means the show ends up at the status quo again after every episode. I love the BBT, don’t get me wrong, I think I just wish once and awhile something would happen on the show that has lasting impact and shakes up the dynamic. The relationship changes – who is dating who – isn’t quite enough. Friendships go through bad phases, people make mistakes, and it’s not always supposed to be fixed by the end tag.

There are a few breakout moments of this season that really should be talked about. The “friend date” with Leonard and Penny was fantastic. Leonard pointing out that she can’t expect him to pay, follow her whims, and give her his full attention the way he would as a boyfriend when they’re just friends. I think Penny is used to getting her way most of the time, as evidenced by the fact she was a “bully” in high school in one of the later episodes, and since she calls the points on their BS a lot, it was good for her to get it right back. The obvious other subject is that Sheldon and Amy are a couple now. I’ll admit, I’m a shipper of the two. I just love their dynamic and their chemistry, and how Sheldon’s been steadily making baby steps to get to the point where he had to admit there were feelings involved. Where this goes for them I’m uncertain, but I’m interested to see. I like how they haven’t really changed the characters or their relationship entirely to fit the traditional mold. They haven’t turned Sheldon into a romantic outspoken type. Their discussion over the ‘relationship contract’ shows they will be navigating this as Amy and Sheldon making up their own version of what they want, not what people expect of them. And I have to just love that. It was a risk for them to take putting Sheldon in a romance, but they did it on their terms, and I respect the show and the actors for making it work this well.

Overall, I’m enjoying this season so far. I was disappointed there wasn’t more having to do with Raj ‘betraying’ two of his friends with his romantic attachments (Penny and Bernadette), and there hasn’t been much of a discussion about Leonard’s breakup with Priya. He said he’s single, but a summary for an upcoming episode says he breaks up with her later. Odd. I don’t care about Penny and Leonard, I find them bland as a couple, but since they haven’t introduced any real other possibilities for the two characters, they’ll probably get back together by the end of the season. I give that an “eh.” Not a “blah,” but not a “yay” either. Bernadette and Howard’s wedding should be this season too, so we’ll see how that goes. I love how this show is so popular; how did that happen, guys, for real? There’s nothing about it that screams the majority would totally connect and love me, and yet they do. It’s magic. And I’m totally okay with that. AGE OF THE GEEK BABY.

  1. Data laughing says:

    About the Priya “breakup”: Leonard’s relationships are weird like that. He had that thing going with the doctor chick, who I loved, and then it just sort of ended. One episode he thought things were moving kind of fast, but they definitely still seemed to be together at the end, and the next episode he was complaining about being single. What happened? We don’t know because it’s never mentioned again. In fact, there is almost never any sort of relationship fallout on this show, which is kind of odd.


    • Dee says:

      Maybe they air them out of order some how. Because he did distinctly say that he was single after Priya admitted to cheating on him, but they indicate they’re still together in the show. Or maybe they’re on a break. And they did that with the doctor too. Maybe they just see it all as pointless since Penny/Leonard is the final sum no matter what. It does annoy me.


  2. I don’t see Two and a Half Men as bad. I never watched it when Sheen was there but I converted with Kutcher. It’s just a different audience. Another Chuck Lorre creation. I happen to like Community and TBBT. Adding and upping Amy and Bernadette to full cast was genius. I’m a fan of Leonard/Penny and The Shammy. The latter a bit more so. The fact that things tend to resolve quickly isn’t that big of a deal to me. With this cast they can afford some leeway. Loved the Leverage line to end it off.


    • Dee says:

      Two and a Half Men drives me crazy for a variety of reasons. I saw the Sheen version and I’ve seen this new one and I stand by my ‘stupid as hell’ opinion of it. There might be a gender bias in there, although I know there are women who like it and men who don’t like it. Just not my type of humor. I love TBBT and Community obviously.

      I don’t MIND Leonard/Penny when it’s not the focus of the show. they managed a few times to do a great job with the relationship being a part of the show but not the main drama. When they do that, I’m fine, I just don’t like when they make it all about them as a couple and their issues. I love how they’ve used all of the cast in recent seasons to make it a more well rounded show!


      • I agree. With the recent award success of Jim Parsons I felt like he was becoming too much of the focus of the show. But the addition of Mayim specifically kept them from going that route. Simon Helberg should be getting some nomination love too.


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