Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I like #3: The Big Bang Theory

Penny is a hot blonde who moves into the apartment next door to Leonard and Sheldon, self-described (and actual) nerds who, along with their two friends, Raj and Howard, live a sheltered existence, working in a laboratory by day and, at night, indulging in comic books, Facebook, Star Trek marathons, anything related to Star Wars (Sheldon will only watch the movies sequentially because he prefers “to be disappointed in the order in which George Lucas intended.”), Green Lantern, Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and space travel. That’s only the beginning of the seemingly infinite list of quirks and predilections that come with being these characters.

It’s not just that they’re geeks. Sure, we laugh at them. But we also laugh with them. When Penny, the cheesecake factory waitress, gets a good one on Sheldon, we cheer. Not just because she’s hot (I guess I probably mentioned that detail already), but because Sheldon is a snob of the highest order and thinks he is vastly superior to Penny. In many ways, maybe he is superior to her…although none come to mind. We like the underdog, and Penny is it—in spite of how she looks and that she’s vastly likable. Huh.

Speaking of the underdog, Leonard is a short, bespectacled, rather awkward man-boy who pines to be with Penny and, guess what? (SPOILER ALERT) He gets his wish, becoming, to her, "my little humunculus." That’s another thing I love about this show—the world seemingly loves an underdog—someone who seems at a disadvantage in a certain arena—whether socially, intellectually, athletically, or whatever. I love an underdog and, when it comes to dating beautiful women, Leonard is the ultimate underdog, and yet he gets Penny.

See full size imageI could talk about Raj’s constant stereotyping of Indian culture even while he berates others for being “racist.” Or I could mention Howard’s penchant for irritating “the ladies”—as well as his friends—with his constant bravado regarding his sexual exploits, his Furleyesque outfits, his outrageously funny mother with whom he lives, or his various masturbatory fantasies—before he, too, inexplicably finds hismelf hooked up with a rather hot, bespectacled blonde named Bernadette.

But mostly it’s Sheldon who keeps me watching. I live for those episodes when his “Creationist” mother comes to visit, played by Laurie Metcalfe. But it’s Sheldon himself who makes it work. He considers himself to be the smartest person in any room, perhaps in any universe, alternate universes included. He cannot tell a lie, and he cannot keep a secret.

Sheldon: I promised Penny.

Leonard: Promised Penny what?

Sheldon: I wouldn't tell you the secret. (pause) Shhhhh!!!!

Leonard: What secret? Tell me the secret.

Sheldon: Mom smokes in the car. Jesus is okay with it, but we can't tell dad.

Leonard: Not that secret, the other secret.

Sheldon: I'M BATMAN!!!! SHHHH!!!

And when he gets sick, he needs someone—preferably his mother, but the reluctant Penny will do—to sing “Soft Kitty” to him. Penny eventually turns the tables and gets him to sing rounds.

I could go on and on with favorite episodes, favorite moments, but the upshot of it all is that this show makes me laugh. I know that some people consider it an intellectual sin akin to reading a romance novel or an Archie comic to own a TV, let alone watch it. And I know that if you admit to having a TV, you really should not plug it in or—God forbid—get cable. And if, by some stretch of genius, you do all of that and/ or have a satellite dish, then you absolutely must not—couldn’t possibly—be interested in a mere sitcom. You must watch Animal Planet, Discovery, Bravo! , CNN, Newsworld, or something slightly intellectual.

I choose to watch The Big Bang Theory because:

1. It makes me laugh. I need to laugh almost as much as I need water. Laughter has never attempted to drown me, unless I happened to take a gulp before I laugh unexpectedly. But I’ll take my chances.

The Odd Couple Poster2. Sheldon is a unique blend of C3P0, Spock, and Jack Klugman's character in The Odd Couple. He’s insufferable and lovable at the same time. And nobody on TV—or in movies, for that matter—can deliver such difficult lines with such perfect comic timing. And his facial expressions and slapstick abilities are pretty fine too.

3. Kaley Cuoco as Penny. Smart, funny, and sexy without trying (okay, sometimes she does try, but only for laughs because she knows the boys can’t handle it).

4. It’s smart comedy such as I haven’t seen since the days of Mad About You, Cheers, Barney Miller and M*A*S*H. Sure, I like the occasional episode of How I Met Your Mother and I caught the occasional Seinfeld. But…

How I Met Your Mother Poster

5. This show has heart. The characters are likable, even when they’re mean to each other. The meanness doesn’t actually go all that deep; you sense the love they have for each other, but they would never say it aloud. They say it with gifted comic books, an awkward hug, or allowing Sheldon his “special place” on the couch. Of course, as his own mother would say, “He is one of God’s special people.”

The Zazzy Substitution Poster

And, once again, I care not what my love of this show says about me. It’s part of who I am. Sure, I could live without it. But I’d rather not. Thursdays at 8:00 Eastern. Anytime if you own Seasons 1-3 as I do.

Oh, and one more before I go:

Sheldon: Why are you crying?

Penny: Because I'm stupid!

Sheldon: That's no reason to cry. One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid, and that makes me sad.

Me, too, Shelly, me too.

1 comment:

  1. "Sheldon is a unique blend of C3P0, Spock, and Jack Klugman's character in The Odd Couple"

    I think you meant Tony Randall of the Odd Couple.