Monday, February 11, 2013

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory
Episode 15: The Spoiler Alert Segmentation
By: Carlos Uribe

The Big Bang Theory is about a group of friends who happen to be nerds and the girl next door.

Spoilers Ahoy!

One of the reputations that mufti-camera comedies tend to have is that they tend to go for low-bro humor. This doesn't mean that they're not funny but rather that their jokes tend to be on the immature side. The Big Bang Theory presents an episode that manages to earn this reputation while at the same time proving it wrong. It proves it right with the sub-plot when Howard has to go to Las Vegas and asks Raj to check up on his mom. Howard's mom is feeling emotionally fragile ever since their dentist broke up with her. Where the comedy come from? It can't come from character. Howard's mom is basically an unseen character that likes to yell and is fat. There's a basic emotional basis in that the character is fragile in that she's afraid to be alone but that's basically it. Raj is a great character but it's not like the situation really calls for jokes that come from who he is specifically. Most of the jokes in this sub-plot are basically the toilet kind. It begins with poop and fat jokes and it doesn't really get any more mature than that. That's not a bad thing on it's own as there were moments where I laughed but this sub-plot felt particularly weak when compared with the main plot. It makes sense they would want to throw such a low-stakes and light plot into this week's episode because of the more serious character and relationship drama going on in the main plot but it did make this whole sub-plot feel rather superflous to the general proceedings of the episode.

The main plot is a lot better because it's dealing with who these people are. It all begins when Sheldon ruins the sixth book of Harry Potter to Leonard when he reveals that Dumbledore dies. This is the kind of joke that is very hard to really justify. On one hand, you need a spoiler that's basically common knowledge so that people don't get angry with the Big Bang Theory. On the other hand, having such a spoiler that's basically been talked about everywhere on the internet is counter-intuitive because Leonard is a geek. He might have resisted the pull of Harry Potter until after even the film franchise had ended but there's no way he could have escaped the spoilers in general pop culture. It's not very realistic but it's forgivable because it allows the show to set forth a set of events that actually influences the lives of the characters. What happens is that Leonard is so bothered about the spoiler that it starts a huge fight. It basically occurs as you would expect: Leonard tries to make his point about how terrible Sheldon treats him and Sheldon treats him with no respect. It takes a whole unexpected twist when Leonard decides to move in with Penny because he can't stand being with Sheldon anymore. It's a twist that basically sets forth the relationship drama for the rest of the episode. It's the kind of twist that leads to comedy based on who these people are and doesn't rely on flatulence jokes to be funny. It's way better than the sub-plot in terms of quality and is basically fascinating to watch because these characters are so well established by now.

So what exactly happens after Leonard decides to move out of Sheldon's place and into Penny's apartment? It's not what happens that's important but how characters react. Leonard is excited about the possibility of living with his girlfriend and he doesn't realize the negative ramifications it could have on his relationship. Penny isn't so excited because she doesn't think they're ready to live together. This move makes her uncomfortable. She can't just tell him this because Leonard uses logic to basically have his way. On the other side of the hallway, Amy decides to take the opportunity to move in with Sheldon. Amy's reaction is based on her love for the guy-as she notes she finds his quirks to be adorable rather than infuriating. She's excited for the possibility of being in the same apartment as Sheldon even as she doesn't push her luck by suggesting they sleep in the same room. Sheldon's reaction is that he's not ready for this. He doesn't want to live with her. She might do everything right but he's not in that stage of their relationship. If you remember, the previous episode he stated that he was working on making himself more comfortable with human contact and trying to correct his errors. His reaction in this episode contains a whole other layer than him being annoying because he's egoistic but because he genuinely is trying to improve but he needs to move at his own pace. It's too soon to move in with Amy.

The two people not happy with this are Penny and Sheldon. The two realize they have to come clean in order to go back to the status quo. It's Sheldon who reveals the truth first but he doesn't expect Amy's emotional response. If you're Amy, it makes no sense why Sheldon doesn't want you to move in. After all, she's been his girlfriend for two years and she puts up with all of his demands. She's been the perfect girlfriend to him and he continues to give her back so little. It's an emotional response that causes Sheldon to immediately point his finger at Penny. He claims that since Penny's not happy with Leonard moving in then Amy can't be allowed to live with him. This backfires when Amy goes to Penny. Penny rejects the notion that she doesn't want Amy living with Sheldon for personal reasons but she has to admit that she doesn't feel like she can move in with Leonard yet. Penny basically gets angry at Leonard for deciding to move in rather than asking Penny. How does the episode end? Penny and Amy go into Penny's apartment as they're angry while Leonard and Sheldon are left outside. The status quo is back to normal but their relationships have been altered. The show is pushing Sheldon more and more towards being intimate with Amy while Leonard realizes there's still a long way to go before Penny is where he is emotionally.

The Spoiler Alert Augmentation has a weak sub-plot that drags down the narrative momentum. It's not very good and is basically what people think of when they think Big Bang Theory. What they should really be thinking about is the pretty amazing main plot where the relationship drama is one of the most solid scenes this show done. I'm not just talking emotionally or dramatically but also comically as well. It's proof that this show can do character-based humor and situations. It's just a pity it feels the need to add weak and immature jokes to the mix because it's afraid that it might lose it's massive audience. Overall, a great episode despite the sub-plot.

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