The Big Bang Theory
Episode 12: The Egg Salad Equivalency
By: Carlos Uribe
The Big Bang Theory is about a group of friends who happen to be nerds and the girl next door.
Sheldon is without a doubt the breakout character of the Big Bang Theory. His unique personality has managed to help make this show a huge hit. This has been both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing in that it has allowed the show to succeed and he's reliably consistent in creating comedic situations. It's a curse in that his character can go to far and turn from an ignorant jerk to an unlikeable dick. This is an episode that provides a perfect example of both because it completely rests on Sheldon being his worst. When Alex asks Leonard out on a date, Sheldon gets annoyed because he doesn't want his assistant paying attention to anything but himself. It's a completely selfish response that makes sense with his character. He doesn't know how to react to the situation so he seeks advice from his “Council of Ladies” but they only tell him to talk to her. They should have known better than to give him that idea. When Sheldon tries to communicate that Alex shouldn't be asking Leonard out, he completely crosses the line into sexual harassment. He doesn't know what he's doing as wrong as he fails to realize that social norms are being violated. He compares women to egg salads, claims that Alex is controlled by her hormones, and shows her a book on sexually-transmitted diseases. His ignorance in what he's doing doesn't make save him this time because his entire motive for doing so comes from a completely self-centered motive. He's not trying to stop an uncomfortable situation for Leonard (which it isn't) and he's not doing this because he's supporting Penny. He's talking to Alex because he doesn't want her to have a personal life because he thinks himself as worth it.
The thing about Sheldon is that he gets away with most of his behavior. The characters put up with his behavior because they feel like they don't really have a choice and because Sheldon can be a good friend at specific situations. He might be a complete jerk to them but they can't feel but like him. Just because they don't correct him except in rare cases doesn't mean that everybody does. Alex heads straight to human resources and files a complaint. This leads to one of the funniest scenes this show has ever done: Sheldon having to explain his conversation to a female HR woman. The woman realizes she's in for the long haul when Sheldon recaps his day by stating that he had shown his assistant diseased genitalia. He simply doesn't realize what he did was wrong and he actually has to answer for that behavior by learning what he said was simply unacceptable. He tries to avoid consequences by throwing all three of his friends under the bus, which makes him even more unlikeable, but it doesn't work. He still gets in trouble. He's forced to apologize to Alex for his comments and he has to take an online sexual harassment class. It's to bad he doesn't have take a physical class because that surely would have been just as funny as this episode. Of course, he really hasn't learned his lesson as he forces Alex to take the class for him.
What I find interesting is the small relationship drama that played out in this episode. The Big Bang Theory can be very sit-commy at times. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if the jokes are funny but it can make it rather predictable. It would have made sense if the show had gone with the familiar route of Leonard trying desperately to hide his situation with Alex from Penny. The show doesn't do that. It opts to do something different instead. Leonard brags about having a young woman that is interested in him. This bragging reaches Penny's ears through Sheldon and she gets mad at him. It's not because she hit on him or because he's happy about it. It's because she feels insecure. She's jealous that Alex can keep up intellectually. Leonard is usually the insecure one in his relationship and this role reversal is a surprise for him. It makes perfect sense with Penny's character as she has always felt inferior due to her lack of understanding what Leonard even does at work. The two are able to talk about the matter and they're able to make up. This significant motion in their relationship helps to advance it to a level where it's never been before: an adult and mature one. Making Penny worried that she might lose Leonard also helps do one more thing. It helps make her seem more committed to him than she has ever been before.
The Egg Salad Equivalency is one of the funniest episodes of the show. It's an episode that finally allows someone to have the power and strength to stand up to Sheldon when he's at his worst. It's an episode that treats Penny and Leonard's relationship with a modicum of respect. It is above all one of the funniest and hands-down one of the top five episodes this show has ever done.
How big of a hit is the Big Bang Theory? This episode reached 19.25 million viewers and a 6.1 in the 18-49 demographic rating. This is the most watched episode of the series.
The best part about the HR woman scene was that Sheldon called her a slave. That he states this to an African American without realizing at all how racist it is speaks about his ignorance but also how big of a jerk he must come across.