While Thursday night’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory” provided some satisfaction in the form of comedy, we also cannot ignore that it looked head-on into what has become the show’s biggest flaw — in its pursuit of happiness for many of its characters, it has also sacrificed a key element in the show in how the four main “geeks” were all part of a ragtag group of misfits.
In many ways, the characters remain unchanged. Sheldon is still arrogant and overbearing, Leonard is still the most normal member of the gang, and Howard relies on his mother more than on his fiancee. At the same time, having these relationships introduced a new social dynamic — they are “cool” now in the sense that they have what many geeks out there aspire to have, and thus this empathy is gone.
Don’t get us wrong — we absolutely love what Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik bring to the show, and we hope that they stay around for several seasons. The primary issue is that when the show introduces conflict between these female characters and the geeks, the tone as a whole changes. Some of the best episodes of the show are actually the ones that don’t introduce a couples conflict into the mix, and either feature the guys and girls separated or mixed around in a creative way to produced laughs for, and not at the expense of, the relationship. Unfortunately, Thursday night’s main storyline (in which Sheldon tried to ditch meeting Amy’s family to play video games all weekend with his friends) was just sad. Was it realistic for Sheldon’s character? Yes, but there’s not really anything funny in him hurting her feelings, or in her coming across as someone who is just out to irritate her boyfriend.
It’s possible that what may have made this week’s installment uncomfortable was just how realistic it actually was. We see these sort of men act selfishly all the time in real life — or in the case of Howard inviting Bernadette to join in on the gaming party without asking the other guys, he thought about his relationship above everyone else. It was frustrating to see how Leonard was in the only guy in a relationship who wasn’t wigging out over hanging out with his friends — and even he freaked out a little beforehand.
Even though the majority of this episode consisted of the show wandering around with its biggest flaw for all to see — the fact that these guys are not in some ways the underdogs they once were — it did all build rather nicely to the giant meltdown by Raj in the closing minutes. Not only was it roll-on-the-floor funny to hear him talk about how sad it was that Sheldon got a girlfriend before him, but he was also spot-on when talking about how the guys in relationships never bothered to ask how he felt when they all tried to turn the “guys’ gaming weekend” into something that it was not. (Never has a drunk man who cannot speak to women sober said something more eloquently.)
At the end of the day, Raj was really like most of us — we don’t mind seeing the couples together, and a good bit of time we actually enjoy it. However, that doesn’t mean that you change everything about who you were or what you used to do along the way.