Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Big Bang Theory 4.05: "The Desperation Emanation"

“When I call him, his phone plays ‘Brown Eyed Girl.’ Which, now that I think about it, is not so good.”

I found “The Desperation Emanation” to vacillate between mildly entertaining and incredibly disparaging to women. Overall, the episode just wasn’t all that enjoyable. Generally “Big Bang Theory,” especially through the character of Penny, who is fairly well rounded, does not stoop to these levels. Perhaps the problem is that this is the first of a stretch of episodes where Kaley Cuoco will be absent due to a horseback riding injury. I think the show needs Penny’s influence to really be watchable. Otherwise it’s just about a group of desperate, kind of mean nerds. I love me some nerd humor, but that’s not what this episode was at all. It was demeaning to both women and nerds, frankly.

The episode opens with Sheldon and Leonard in their apartment, discussing girlfriends, surprisingly enough. I say it’s surprising considering Sheldon is so rigidly anti-relationship. Leonard wonders why Sheldon doesn’t want to spend more time hanging out with Amy. Sheldon thinks that Leonard might be jealous of his relationship with Amy. Apparently, Leonard has suddenly become lonely and desperate since he’s gone without a girlfriend for a few months. Sheldon goes so far as to accuse Leonard of being unable to have a functional relationship with a woman.

Things get worse for Leonard when he and Sheldon arrive at the comic book shop to peruse the latest merchandise with Howard and Raj. Howard answers a phone call from Bernadette and makes a huge deal about how it’s Bernadette. He’s enjoying showing off that he has a girlfriend again. Raj reveals that he has a girlfriend now, too. When asked how she could put up with the fact that he can’t talk to women, Raj says that she’s deaf. This kind of irritated me. The deaf have a variety of ways to communicate, and just because a person is deaf does not mean that he or she has no need for communication. The writers reached a bit too far for the joke on that one. Stewart, the guy who owns the comic book shop, has a girlfriend now too, and this is almost as bad as Raj’s. He met her at Comic-con, and she’s overweight and likes to wear her extra large Wonder Woman costume before sex. This one irritated me as well, because it was a parody taken to such an extreme. As a geeky girl myself, it was incredibly insulting.

Leonard is on the couch moping over his situation when Sheldon asks him to move over so he can have his spot. At that moment, Leonard is a little creeped out to find out that Amy has been in the room via Sheldon’s webcam the entire time he’s been moping. Amy suggests, in many more words than necessary, that Leonard try to go to a bar and pick up some chicks, and Leonard decides to leave the apartment rather than take any more harassment. He’s not alone for long, though. Amy tells Sheldon that she’d like for him to meet her mother. Sheldon calmly ends their internet chat, then runs after Leonard screaming. He has quite the freak out, because he rightly figures that a request to meet the parents means Amy wants to take their relationship to another level.

We next see Leonard in front of Howard’s house. After the typical yelling banter with his mom (she’s preparing for a colonoscopy the next day), Howard answers the door. Howard wants t know why Leonard is wearing an Apple t-shirt, and Leonard reveals he’s been pretending to work at the Genius Bar. The Apple Store management didn’t take too kindly to the imposter, and Leonard spent a little time in the mall jail. At first, I was a little pissed at the product placement aspect of the t-shirt, but the fact that they crafted a pretty elaborate story to go with it amused me. Anyway, Leonard has come to Howard because he wants to invoke their girlfriend pact. The pact that led to Howard being introduced to Bernadette in the first place. Bernadette does end up agreeing to introduce Leonard to one of her friends.

Unfortunately for Leonard the date doesn’t go all that well. I really should go on yet another rant about how women are portrayed in this episode yet again. But I’ll try to spare you. For the most part. Leonard’s date is a woman named Joy, and she is absolutely horrible. She arrives fresh from the gym, and she’s crude and gross and has no filter. I really don’t understand why Bernadette would have thought such a woman would make good blind date material. It makes no sense. Leonard decides he wants to end things with Joy before they begin, and he gives Howard this speech about having self respect. Howard has dated plenty worse, after all, just to not be alone (a theme which has cropped up multiple times in this episode). Almost as soon as Leonard resolves to end things with Joy before they begin, Joy asks Leonard if he’ll be her date to a wedding. Leonard caves and says he’d be happy to because she promises sex. What sad commentary. I’ll leave it at that.

Sheldon spends much of the episode going way overboard in trying to figure out how to make sure he never has to see or hear from Amy again. He tries to go completely “off the grid,” changing all of his internet profiles and his phone number. He even takes one of the address numbers off the front of the apartment building, thinking that will result in Amy getting lost if she tries to find him. Predictably, though, it’s no use. Amy shows up at the apartment. Sheldon has Leonard tell Amy he’s not home, but Amy waits patiently in the building lobby. There are a few funny sequences with Sheldon chanting a little song as he jumps down the stairs, only to run right back upstairs when he sees Amy is still hanging around. Eventually, Sheldon has no choice but to hear her out. Amy says that what she really wants is a ruse. She wants Sheldon to pretend to be her boyfriend so her mother will get off her back. Sheldon agrees and is happy that things with Amy have gone back to the status quo. The pair scare Amy’s mom enough that she won’t bug Amy any more with talk of copious amounts of sex. Amy’s mother’s reaction was predictably hilarious.

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