Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory
Episode 23: The Love Spell Potential
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 first time I ever played Dungeons and Dragons was with girls. A lot of them were interested in playing the game because they were actresses and they felt like the roleplaying aspect of the game helped them improve their acting skills. This is all to state that the Big Bang Theory used outdated stereotypes for some jokes. The first is that girls don't play Dungeons & Dragons but this fits into the writer's outdated ideas that there are no female geeks. The second is the game is just limited to nerds as it has found a playerbase within theater people. I'm not suggesting it's immensely popular but it wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility that this wouldn't be the first time Penny would have played Dungeons & Dragons. Her drama class might have played the game to help improve their acting skills. Even if this is her first time, the writers are operating under the assumption that Dungeons & Dragons is only played by geeks when it has found some popularity in different circles. I've noted before that the Big Bang Theory has used outdated stereotypes of geek culture for the sake of humor. It's an established part of the show and I'm not expecting that to change anytime soon. It's going to go for the easy, outdated jokes because it's such a mainstream hit now. So if it's not really representative of modern geek culture, why do I like it so much? Well it's still funny and largely because of episodes like this. Yes-it made some outdated jokes. Yes-it spent a lot of time setting up the premise of the girls playing Dungeons and Dragons. Once you got past the jokes and the premise was set up, it made for a pretty strong episode.

The whole idea is that the boys are playing Dungeons and Dragons while the girls go to Vegas with limited rules. Amy makes the mistake of accidentally punching a TSA agent so she's put on the no-flight list. The girls decide to join the game because it sounds like a fun time. A pretty convoluted, albeit funny, way to set up the main idea. The group has a good time, partially thanks to the alcohol (potion) that Penny has them consume. There's some clever gags such as Penny trying to make the best of the game by rolling the dice like she's in Vegas. This all builds up to a moment where Penny suggests that Amy and Sheldon should have sex in the game because they aren't in real-life. The group starts to laugh but Amy runs away. This is important to her and it hurts that her friends think it's a big joke. Sheldon goes in to comfort her and they have an actual talk about Sheldon's level on intimacy. He brings up that this is the closest that he's ever been with anybody and that he's trying his best to to be more intimate. He takes their relationship seriously even as he struggles with the concept of allowing Amy to get closer to him. It's a nice conversation for the two of them to have as they finally get on the same page. Sheldon is trying and this is the closest he's been to a girl. Amy wants more even as she's willing to live with what she's got. Sheldon then decides to use their game's characters to stimulate what the two of them having sex would be like. It's a nice compromise for Amy as it allows her to pretend until Sheldon is ready. That the game used Dungeons and Dragons to dig deep into the status of their relationship is pretty impressive. It actually reminded me of what the old Dan Harmon Community could have done although to a lesser extent. This is why I like the show: because outdated jokes aside it really does allow itself to have three-dimensional geeks on our television screen. Sheldon's quirks might somehow take over but this is an episode that proves he's still a fully formed human being.

The Lucy plot was also pretty good. Raj goes on a date with Lucy to a nice restaurant. They talk about their neuroses. Raj learns that Lucy has always wanted to have the strength to send food back at a restaurant. This comes into play when Lucy isn't happy with her food because it's “funky”. Raj decides that it's the best time to encourage his girlfriend to send the meal back. I'd like to note that sending your food back because it's “funky” is not a legitimate reason. That's likely to annoy the waiter and waste people's times. Anyways, Raj insists that Lucy send the food back but she freaks out and goes to the bathroom to climb out of the window. Raj is disappointed that this has happened for a second time but it gives them a proper chance to talk. Lucy finds out just why Raj is interested in dating her and the two get closer. It's a great scene between them that define just what he sees in her for the audience. This is important in helping us care about their relationship. If it's just some random girl, who cares? If this is a girl that he likes spending time with and he can relate to? Okay, I care more about their relationship. I still think Lucy needs to be developed more but I do hope that she sticks around next season-it's good for Raj to have a love interest. Here's hoping that this relationship leads to him no longer having to drink to communicate with females.

The Love Spell Potential is a hilarious episode of the Big Bang Theory. It might have depended on some outdated jokes and a complicated set-up but it was all worth it to get that scene between Sheldon and Amy. This isn't to suggest that the rest of the scenes weren't good as I was consistently laughing throughout the episode. The sub-plot with Raj and Lucy works because it allows them to have a conversation that helps to solidify their relationship. The two like each other and they might just make it work. Overall-it's the kind of episode that has a lot of the flaws people complain about but it's all in the service of something really good relationship and character development.

Other Notes:

The joke of the guys being as equally excited as the girls are for Vegas was hilarious as was Leonard throwing Zachary Quinto into Sheldon's face to get him to accept the new dungeon master. Sheldon's love of Howard as the dungeon master is pretty great as well due to great sound effects and hilarious celebrity impersonations.

Jim Parsons would make an excellent Vulcan, no?

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