For fans of The Big Bang Theory, it appears that one of the most consistent element may very well be the show’s theme music. This is not limited to the scientific fab four’s tome, however. History has shown us that a lot of classic TV shows can veer away from their original premise for the drive to the plot, both for the sake of longevity, ratings and character development.
So how does a show stay fresh?
When the show is a hit, like The Big Bang Theory, many sins can be committed and are instantly forgiven.
The story of four “nerds,” Leonard Hofstadter, Sheldon Cooper, Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali, along with their ever-present across-the-hall neighbor Penny, and their foibles in personal relationships, due to a whole host of social anxieties, touches a nerve with the show’s core audience. However, the stuff which has made this series great can sometimes get lost in sensationalism and the pursuit of new material. The magic can only be partially recovered. There are issues with The Big Bang Theory, past and present, that simply cannot be ignored. Here, we will attempt to examine a few of them.
15. Penny has no maiden name
The show’s strong, independent lead female seems to be missing a maiden name. She does however, have a last name now, Penny Hofstadter. Why has this gone on for so long? The other female characters seem to be almost defined by their last names — Amy Farrah Fowler and Bernadette Rostenkowski. Could this be because Penny, a community college dropout, is the least educated of the group? Why this glaring omission for nine seasons? The writers can coast with Penny sharing Leonard’s name for now. The absence of her own identity is an affront to all shopping, Ugg-boot wearing girls out there.
14. The bizarre relationship of Leonard and Sheldon
While it can make for great comedic fodder, at this point it appears that Leonard may well be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the psychological phenomenon that occurs when hostages express empathy and positive feelings for their captors. Sheldon has held Leonard to the Roommate Agreement since 2003. This was seen in the season 3 episode, The Staircase Implemention. Leonard agrees to live with Sheldon in spite of warnings from Sheldon’s former roommate and the transvestite across the hall, Louie/Louie. Sheldon is often referred to as insane, in spite of his mother “having him tested.” He’s also described by Leonard as being “one lab accident away from becoming a supervillain.” But, maybe it’s actually Leonard who is the insane one here. Yes, he has insecurity issues because of his cold, distant upbringing. However, the ongoing, weirdly codependent relationship with Sheldon is just — abnormal, even in a group of scientists. Even stranger, this relationship continues after Leonard’s marriage to Penny. He has to keep on appeasing Sheldon by living with him. C’mon! Even Howard eventually got away from his mother, which is a much deeper bond than a roommate that has to be driven to work every single day.
13. Speaking of co-dependent, Amy Farrah Fowler
Amy, a neurobiologist, and a relatively independent woman, in spite of her relationship with her and her mother’s George Foreman grill, is also trapped in a relationship with Sheldon that is twisted. And it’s going nowhere. In spite of successfully having “coitus,” in the episode The Opening Night Excitation, the couple are still moving in slow motion. While Amy has definite self-esteem issues, she still holds a doctorate and is a modern woman with a bright future. She even has a “bestie.” Why is Amy still in a hopelessly one-sided relationship? If this were taking place IRL, this girl would have moved on, especially after the dating experience — which in spite of her suitor, Dave’s, man-crush on Sheldon — proved enjoyable for her.
12. Nebraska/Texas jokes
Penny grew up in a “small town near Omaha” Nebraska. Omaha is a large city, boasting nearly 1 million people, according to a 2015 census. It’s hardly the backwoods, cow-tipping, meth-addled mecca as depicted on the show. Sheldon is from east Texas, which could include the city of Houston. The Omaha and Houston metro areas are culturally diverse, in spite of Sheldon saying to Penny that there aren’t “kosher cornhuskers,” and that Jewish people are ostracized in Texas. It’s grasping for cheap laughs by the writers, who may have not even visited these areas.
11. Caltech’s blind eye
From cooking ramen noodles, to making the perfect panini, Caltech’s million-dollar equipment has experienced all manners of misuse. Howard wrecks the Mars Exploration Rover while trying to impress Stephanie Barnett in the second season. In the fifth season, Sheldon and colleague/frenemy Barry Kripke (Bawry Kwipkee), battle it out for Professor Rothman’s office. President Siebert tells them to figure out the office ownership for themselves. Sheldon eventually wins out, but why didn’t Siebert just decide? Anarchy reigns at Caltech. And is there really funding for marshmallow shooters?
10. Leonard’s iffy loyalty
In the fourth season, Leonard begins to date Raj’s sister, Priya, after his breakup with Penny. Leonard, who has shown remarkable loyalty to Sheldon for saving his life after Sheldon pulled him from the elevator, shows very little loyalty in regard to his friendship with Penny. He completely severs ties with her as soon as Priya mentions her discomfort with the relationship. Leonard, however, does not sever ties with Penny when Stephanie Barnett is uncomfortable with her presence. What’s with Leonard’s duality? The series has established Leonard as the unfailing “good guy.” But, does a good guy toss out his friends on a whim? He also didn’t seem to care about Raj’s feeling while he was courting Priya.
9. Raj’s out-of-character actions
Raj and Penny’s almost hook-up, in the season finale of season four (Raj’s excitement proved to be a bit premature) — was out of character for both Penny and Raj. The aftermath of their actions was dealt with in The Skank Reflex Analysis, the first episode of the fifth season. Raj, who couldn’t even talk to girls for the first five seasons, decides to bed Penny in a drunken moment of weakness. It was a plot twist gone awry. Raj is largely misunderstood. His grasshopper loving, Martha Stewart tendencies, along with his selective mutism, make him an endearing character. He’s not the ladies man depicted in more recent episodes.
8. The snarkiness of the married couples
Is this the new era of The Honeymooners? If so, then the audience may be able to the understand the vitriol of the married couples on the show. Howard and Bernadette and Penny and Leonard. In a more recent episode, Penny and Leonard take a moment to reflect on their marriage with a therapist. A therapist Penny is trying to court for her pharmaceutical company. They explore their married relationship, and why Penny has turned into Leonard’s mother. Penny seems to discount Leonard, such as growing annoyed with his anticipation of the latest Star Wars franchise installment. Bernadette also treats Howard like an annoyance. While spying on Amy’s date with Dave, she berates and belittles him. Why the snarkiness? Why are these people even married?
7. Leonard’s mommy issues
Dr. Beverly Hofstader is a cold-hearted, robotic mother to Leonard. She’s not incapable of interpersonal relationships, however, as she develops a close bond with Sheldon, telling him of her divorce and that Leonard’s dog died. While there are horrible mothers out there, just because a mother happens to be a psychiatrist means she has to be emotionally unavailable? She has written several books that are popular on Amazon, which she advises Leonard to read. It is implied that they are about Leonard, most notably the book, Needy Baby, Greedy Baby.
6. Howard’s mommy issues
The stereotypical Jewish mother, the late Mrs. Debbie Wolowitz is disrespected by the son she dotes on, Howard. He talks of her girth, and having to transport her in a van. Her facial hair is another topic, and her mannish voice. Is this how a nice Jewish boy treats his mother? But she is remembered fondly after her passing, although Howard does not sit in shiva, as he should have done.
5. Stuart Bloom is an impoverished loser, despite a booming comic book business
Comic books have increased in popularity, with stories being turned into popular movie franchises. So why is Stuart such a poor, pathetic character? An independent businessman, Stewart should be enjoying the fruits of his labor, the popular comic book store that he runs, in spite of giving the “gang” discounted prices. He has influential friends, including Wil Wheaton. He was even able to secure dates with Penny and Amy Farrah Fowler, showing his status as an eligible bachelor. Stewart was turned into yet another stereotypical figure, that of a loser comic book aficionado.
4. Howard’s sex life
Howard’s sex life is — in a word — gross. Raj gives him a proper toast at his bachelor party, which Wil Wheaton posts “all over” the Internet. Raj mentions a torrid threesome at Comic-Con, Howard’s loss of his virginity to his second-cousin, Jeanie, and a prostitute in Vegas who pretended to be Jewish, which Leonard and Raj paid for. Bernadette learns of Howard’s many sins, and is disgusted, briefly considering calling off their impending nuptials, until Howard shows up, giving Penny a heartfelt message to deliver to Bernadette. Bernadette overhears this and forgives Howard.
3. Howard and Raj’s gay relationship
Much ado was made in the later seasons in regard to Howard and Raj’s latent homosexual relationship, courtesy of Leonard’s mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter. It only spirals down from there. Soon Raj takes on the role of “female.” In subsequent seasons, he becomes more feminine in his interests, including Martha Stewart projects. He also enjoys Howard’s virtual tongue kissing. Making Raj and Howard appear to be a gay couple cheapened their enduring friendship and went for easy laughs.
2. Sheldon becoming a caricature of himself
In the first and second seasons, Sheldon was quirky, but charming. Brimming with knowledge and self-confidence, he was epitome of misunderstood genius. In later seasons, however, Sheldon has become a sad caricature of himself. He chooses to not let his feelings for Amy stray into the intimate zone, and when he finally does, he tells her sex is not necessary for another extended time period. Sheldon seemed a bit more human in the first two seasons. In the pilot episode, Leonard and Sheldon venture into a sperm bank. Sheldon has misgivings about going through with it. Leonard tells him not to worry, as Sheldon is a “semi-pro.” This doesn’t sound like a man who hates all forms of sexual activity.
1. The eternally broken elevator
Why has this elevator been broken for nine seasons? This is Pasadena, California! What about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance? Have none of the building’s residents complained? Aren’t there any maintenance men available? Put out of commission when a rocket experience went haywire, the elevator has been out of order since 2003. That’s an awfully long time to ignore the city’s disabled persons. Just sayin’.
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