The Big Bang Theory
Episode 16: The Tangible Proof Affection
By: Carlos Uribe
The Big Bang Theory is about a group of friends who happen to be nerds and the girl next door.
It is about time that Raj got a girlfriend. He's been the only character in the entire run of the show that hasn't really had one. There was the time he briefly dated a deaf character but she was only interested in him for the money. He's a character in that his inability to speak with women sober makes it difficult for him to ask a girl out on a date. This social problem has not only affected his ability to get dates but it's also held back his character growth. It makes sense that the writers wouldn't want to remove this ability because they still think it's funny and because character development on sit-coms moves at a snail's pace. This was an episode that largely explored a lot of the same material that has been present throughout the season. Raj is sad and lonely because he doesn't want anyone in his life. Stuart shares that pain. Since it's Valentine's Day, the two decide to throw a special party for all the single nerds out there. The party turns out to be a literal giant pity party as everybody is just miserable in one place. After Raj delivers a speech to try and make everyone feel better, a new female character named Lucy appears and decides to take him out on a date. This does prove that females do enter Stuart's comic book shop after all so I guess the outrage on the show's outdated stereotypes can settle down a bit. Kate Micucci is a great actress and it's great to see her appear in what will hopefully be a significant time. Her character isn't really developed yet since we only met her at the very end but this should be a significant development for Raj that will hopefully allow him to have some significant growth in his personal life.
The show decides to take the Valentine's Day holiday and bring in some relationship drama. The one that's apparent from the get-go is between Howard and Bernadette. Bernadette isn't happy that Howard didn't do the one load of laundry that she asked him to do so she decided to hide his X-box. This relationship drama is based from a place of character. Howard might be married and has grown a lot since the pilot but he's still very immature. He doesn't like to take care of himself and expects his wife to treat him like his mother did. Bernadette isn't happy because she didn't want to marry a son but a partner. Their conflict leads to a scene at the lunch but it's quickly overshadowed by Penny and Leonard's problems. The two are able to resolve their difference when Howard promises to do more in his household duties while Bernadette reveals the location of his video game system. It's a pretty good romantic plot but it's genius is in the fake-out. Howard's search for the perfect Valentine's Day present is revealed early on because he's trying to make it up to Bernadette for failing to do his own part. It seems like this is what's going to dominate the episode and the dinner does start to be ruined by their bickering. In reality, it's a way for the show to mask the real relationship drama of the episode. When the real drama is revealed, it flows seamlessly and make a lot of sense. For all their problems, the two at least are on the same page on what they feel towards each other.
There are two couples who are on different pages. The first is Leonard and Penny. Leonard is in love with Penny and he's not afraid to commit to her. Penny remains unwilling to take their relationship to the next level. When Leonard decides to to do something special on Valentine's Day, Penny basically ruins the night. She basically tries to sabotage Leonard's plans to make the holiday special because she has serious and glaring commitment issues. Leonard isn't happy with this because he just wanted to spend a romantic evening with his girlfriend. The two are finally able to resolve their conflict when Leonard promises that he'll stop proposing to Penny. He decides that if Penny ever decides to take their relationship to the next stage, she has to be the one to propose to him. It's a sweet gesture that allows Penny to have a measure of control over how fast their relationship is moving. It's also a great character move as it allows Leonard to at least compromise from where he stands. He knows he's more committed into this relationship than Penny but he's allowing her to move at her own speed. This not only will help ensure that they stay together but it's a huge sign of maturity. What is interesting it's the second week in a row where Penny and Sheldon are in similar places in their relationships even though it's for different reasons.
Just like how Penny doesn't want to do anything special for Valentine's Day, Sheldon doesn't wan to do anything. Penny is worried about the pressure that the holiday has on couples but Sheldon just finds it irritating. He doesn't want to spend his time looking for a Valentine's Day gift so he decides to have his assistant look for one. She only finds one present that he finds suitable and he decides to keep it. He's just being a jerk like usual this episode but there is a moment of sweetness. When Amy decides to do nothing special on Valentine's Day as her gift to Sheldon, he decides to give her a gift that means a lot to her. He adds her as his emergency contact at work. Amy is delighted by this because it means that Sheldon is taking their relationship a little bit more seriously. She does see the drawback to this when she realizes that it's not necessarily a good thing to be an emergency contact to a hypochondriac. She is willing to make the sacrifice because she manages to remain committed to him-even when his presents to her end up being a self-serving move.
The Tangible Proof Affection is a title that refers how each couple tries to prove that they care about the other person. Leonard decides to give Penny the responsibility to ask for marriage while Sheldon makes Amy his emergency contact. Howard promises to do his share of the household chores. Relationships are all about compromises but in doing so you provide tangible evidence that you love the other person. Actions speaks louder than words after all. Overall, this is a great Valentine's Day episode that has funny relationship conflict-and that's proving to be the Big Bang Theory at it's very best.