Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory
Episode 21: The Closure Alternative
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!

The world we live in can be very cruel. There are the serious problems that are difficult to solve due to deep and complex issues. There are also first world problems such as where people who watch television can be upset when a show they watch gets canceled. It seems silly to complain about a show that ends on a cliff-hanger, never to be resolved, when there's regimes still committing genocide. Yet we do. Why? I'm reminded of a scene from the first season of Community where Jeff gives a speech about how human beings can connect with anything that has a name, even a pencil. We are able to connect with television characters even though they're fictional as if they were our own friends. The plots are able to transport us into different worlds and we really get invested into what's happening. We want to learn more about how our favorite characters overcome overwhelming odds. We take these stories seriously. People will dress up as their favorite characters and go to comic-con. We'll spend money on merchandising and home video sets. There's people who take television so seriously that they'll start small review blogs to cover their thoughts about what they watch. It's truly a passion for people. Hell, I'm going to major in it. Television shows can be wonderful despite all of their drawbacks. It's not a perfect medium but it's a popular one. Even with the internet, more and more people watch more television every year. The networks might see declining ratings but the industry is far from dead. So we care about television. There's nothing wrong with this. I'm not going to ever imply being a fan of a television show is a bad thing. Well unless you're a bronie.

It makes perfect sense for a geek to get upset when a show they like gets canceled. The geek in this case is going to be Sheldon. The show is Alphas. I'm surprised that not only did the series go with a real-life show but that it was a relatively recent one. This makes the geek culture that the series likes to go for feel a lot more alive than if it had been something too mainstream, old, or fictional. Sheldon is upset because the show ended on a cliff-hanger. He wants to know what happens next because he has problems with closure. I can understand that but he takes it to extremes because he's Sheldon. Amy tries to help him by trying to get him over his closure issue. It's a noble effort and leads to amazing scenes where Amy tries her best to get Sheldon's brain rerouted to accept closure. Only this is a comedy. Sheldon has to have problems with closure because he can't be solved or the jokes die. So there's a pretty hilarious montage at the end where he forces himself to complete every task that Amy had denied him. He does get his answer to how the cliff-hanger would have gotten resolved but it's no surprise when he gets disappointed. That's the sad truth of life: sometimes you're going to be disappointed no matter what. It's a pretty genius plot and some of the funniest stuff this show has done this season.

Okay, so the episode already built solid greek cred by it's real Alphas reference but then it decides to build on that by sort-of building an episode around Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Leonard decides that he wants Penny to get into Buffy so he shows her the show. He makes the mistake of starting with the first season. Now I love Buffy. It's a great show for a reason but the first season is not a good place to start. The series begins like in the B-movie quality level before it improves dramatically in the second season. I understand Leonard's decision to start with the first season as it sets up the show and because us geeks like continuity. It's important after all. I just don't think he should be that surprised when Penny just thinks the show is cute. Only this upsets Penny even more as she realizes that she doesn't get excited as things as her geeky friends do. So she tries to find her passion before deciding that's Leonard and all of her friends. Wow, you would think that would be her acting but I guess she just wants the fame and money that comes with making it big. It's nice to see Penny becoming more and more geekish while staying true to her character.

The final sub-plot has to do with blogs! Wow, this episode really got geeky. Raj finds out that Lucy has a blog on the internet and reads it only to find out she thinks he's feminine. Raj feels insecure so he decides to as act as masculine as possible. He feigns interest in hockey and tries to make the manliest food he can make. This freaks Lucy out because he's acting out-of-character until Raj reveals the truth. He was acting different because he doesn't want her to think he's like a woman. Only Lucy is able to comfort him because she likes his feminine side. It makes him caring. Raj is happy. It's nice to see their relationship slowly progress but it's a great move to make Raj's metrosexuality an issue in this episode. It's been building up for a long time now so it's nice to see the series address it in a direct manner that made sense.

One complaint often lodged at the Big Bang Theory by real-life geeks is that the humor has moved away from the niche. The references have become more mainstream so that more people can get them. They feel like this has betrayed why they watched the show in the first place. This is obviously a small minority as I think the mass majority who watch the Big Bang Theory must surely watch it because they think it's as funny as I do. I never really watched the Big Bang Theory for the references but for the characters. I found them relatable, yes, but I also grew attached to them. Even so, you get a sense of feeling that the Closure Alternative was written with those fans who have felt left out by the recent seasons. The geeks who watched for the geeky humor. A way for the series to state that it hasn't forgotten about them yet. The Closure Alternative is a pretty amazing episode...and it's one of the funniest the season has done. Not just because of the geeky jokes but because it's overall just clicks together well.

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