26 September 2013

The #BigBangTheory Season 6: My thoughts

Seeing as season 6 finished in the UK about a month ago, and season 7 starts in the US tonight, I can't imagine there's anyone that gives a crap about The Big Bang Theory that hasn't seen the sixth series in its entirety. But just in case; I'll put the rest of this post beneath a jump.

The Good

By far the best episode of the season was The Parking Spot Escalation. I mean, it's hard to top a nude revenge wiggle, isn't it?

Howard sitting naked in Sheldon's spot on the couch. Howard's groin region is covered by Sheldon's laptop.
Nude Revenge Wiggle

The episode had problems with the role of the women in the story, which I'll come back to later, but the Sheldon/Howard storyline was brilliant. Aside from 2 nude revenge incidents, Sheldon sitting on his desk chair being pushed along by Howard's car was also a sight worth seeing. Have to confess that in that scene I also laughed at the ridiculousness of there being a disabled parking space and a dropped kerb right in front of a door with 3 steps.

I also think it's a plus that Leonard and Penny were together for the whole season. Yes, in sitcoms it's often on again/off again relationships that prove the funniest. But the problem with that in this show is that when he's not with Penny; Leonard has relationships with some of the dullest women to have ever been written for TV.

Sure Leonard's had brief dalliances with interesting women like Leslie Winkle and Alice (the only female comic book geek we've met in 6 years). But his multi-episode relationships other than Penny (Stephanie and Priya) have been with the least interesting women a screenwriter could possibly spew out.

The Bad

The worst episode of the season was, without question, The Spoiler Alert Segmentation. I remember once seeing an interview with Jim Parsons where he said that sometimes they end up rewriting Sheldon's lines when they realise how nasty they sound. Sheldon is supposed to be socially ignorant, not cruel. But in this episode he was incredibly spiteful. And misogynist. And just not the character he's supposed to be because he displayed no redeeming features whatsoever.

It was also disappointing because it slammed a door on how I ultimately imagined the 2 relationships progressing. Leonard and Penny are going to want to move in together eventually and in my mind's eye I'd pictured Leonard moving across the hall into Penny's flat and Amy moving in to Leonard's old room. Seeing as how "in the next room" is probably the closest Sheldon would ever come to sleeping with a woman.

It was decided long ago that the audience would never see Howard's mother. And I fully agreed with that. I don't want to see her, I have my mental picture of what she looks like. But, unfortunately, for all they said that we'd never see her; the writers obviously changed their mind. Well, to an extent. In this episode we certainly saw more of her than I ever wanted to.

A screencap of Raj standing in Howard's mother's dining room. Behind him the kitchen door is open and Howard's mother is walking past. Though she is out of focus we can see that she has black curly hair and is wearing a bright pink and blue dress.
Howard's mother behind Raj

So I now know that Howard's mother is thinner than I'd pictured her and has blacker hair than I'd imagined. Thanks, writers.

Managed to be a shitty episode from every angle really.

The Hair

Had they hired Edward Scissorhands to do the hair last season or something? I mean, look at it.

For starters; let's take Sheldon's hairdo in the first few episodes:

Screencap of Sheldon standing in the comic book store.

Look familiar? Yes, that's right: It's a mirror image of Hitler's hair. How classy. Thank goodness they didn't give him a moustache too.

Then Leonard:

A screengrab of Leonard with his greasy-looking hair.
Leonard's season 6 hairdo

Look how greasy and creepy that is. Remember 6 years ago when Leonard's hair was just adorably nerdy?

A screencap of Leonard from season 1. He's in his bedroom holding a bunch of clothes on hangers.
Leonard in The Cooper-Hofstatder Polarization in season 1

And Penny's spent much of season 6 looking like she'd been dragged through a hedge:

Penny behind the bar at work in her bartender's uniform. Her hair looks like she's rolled out of bed, thrown it into a high ponytail, and gone in to work.
I know I can't really talk about bad hairstyles. But even I brush mine before leaving the house. Apparently the show's hairdresser forgot that.

The Women

The show often gets criticised for its treatment of women as objects rather than fully developed and rounded characters. I think some of the criticism is unjust (yes Penny was just a pair of boobs at the start. But by then time she came out with the line "it looks like something Elton John would ride through the Everglades" she'd developed into a properly formed character).

But some of the criticism is bang on. In the past Kaley Cuoco has been the only female main actor in the show; until the start of season 6 Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik were recurring guest stars. But with Rauch and Bialik getting a promotion I'd hoped that we might start to see the odd scene here and there that would pass the Bechdel Test.

I rewatched season 6 in its entirety over the weekend. Once the ad breaks are removed, the whole season lasts 8 hours. In 8 hours, with 3 female lead characters you'd think there'd be a few scenes that could meet the criteria:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.

Guess how many scenes there were. Go on, guess. Oh, OK, I'll tell you. It was one. One conversation in 8 hours of TV.

And even that wasn't some radical feminist scene: They were arguing about who got to dress up as which Disney princess.

Penny, Amy and Bernadette in Bernadette's car. She's driving, Penny's in the front passenger seat, and Amy's in the back.
In the car heading to Disneyland, arguing about which one gets to dress up as Cinderella.

If you reclassify Thor from the comic books "a fictional comic book character" rather than as "a man" then there's another scene in which they have an argument about who can pick up Thor's hammer. Even that's a problem because the only reason they decided to read a few comic books was "gee. Our men do love comic books. Maybe we should read a few to understand what our man folk are talking about!"

But other than that; every women-only scene was just them sitting around talking about their boyfriends/husband.

Bernadette, Penny and Amy sitting in Bernadette's apartment, surrounded by Bernadette's wedding presents.
Talking about their male partners. Just for a change.

And this was the problem with The Parking Spot Escalation. Bernadette and Amy's storyline was them fighting with each other because their men were fighting. Apparently they can't think independently and have to take up their men's battles.

The Big Set Up, Then Disappointment

Before this season started I read an interview that this season was ultimately supposed to be about growing up. That Penny would deal with her feelings for Leonard and that Howard would learn to live away from his mother. I was really hoping it would also include Raj coming out. And in the first episode of the season it really looked like my wish was going to come true.

I'd never given any thought to who I thought Raj should go out with. I'd always assumed that if he ever came out that a new character would be written in to play his boyfriend; just like Bernadette and Amy were written in to be partners for Howard and Sheldon respectively, rather than being pre-existing characters.

But then there was that scene in The Date Night Variable. And all of a sudden I could think of nothing but how perfect Raj and Stuart would be together.

Raj and Stuart in the comic book store clinking Star Wars mugs together as they enjoy a nightcap.

It was just the sweetest scene imaginable with the dancing and Raj walking away and then turning back to ask Stuart out. I was so swept away by the adoreableness of it all that I think I stopped breathing. As soon as the scene ended I rewound it to watch it again and make lots of high-pitched "squee" noises.

Then I realised that Kevin Sussman, who plays Stuart, had also been added as a full-time cast member along with Rauch and Bialik. My hopes were well and truly up.

But then instead of turning into a romantic relationship it just turned into yet another "ersatz homosexual marriage". Raj doesn't need another Bromance; he's already got Howard (even if Howard was in space at the time).

And then came the disappointment. The series went on, Raj and Stuart never got together. Eventually Kevin Sussman was demoted from regular cast member back to recurring guest star.

There was the odd little moment of closeness between them; but nothing like the sweetness we saw in that first episode of the season.

In The Tangible Affection Proof there was another quite cute scene where Raj laid out why he and Stuart would be the perfect couple "if only [Stuart] was a girl."

Screengrab of Stuart and Raj in the comic book store. Raj has his back to the camera.
"If only you were a girl..."

But by this time Sussman was already back down to a recurring guest star and at the end of the episode Raj met Lucy who he went on to have a relationship with. My heart broke a little bit at Raj dating someone that wasn't Stuart.

What I Want From Season 7

Mostly for Raj and Stuart to get together. Seriously. If the writers weren't planning on doing that they shouldn't have gotten our hopes up with The Date Night Variable. I will not be holding my breath: I read yesterday that the actress who played Lucy has been booked to come back for at least one episode this season.

1 comment:

  1. I really love this serial, i always watching every episode and thanks for sharing this post with us.