The Big Bang Theory "The Tangible Affection Proof" Review: Better Than a Box of Bonbons

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Feb 15, 2013

The Big Bang Theory S06E16: “The Tangible Affection Proof”

Ugh, Valentine’s Day, right? It sucks when you’re single because it’s just a big pink-and-glittery slap in the face to remind you of your lack of desirability. It sucks when you’re in a relationship because of the intense pressure to wow your other half so thoroughly that he or she forgets how apathetic you are as a partner the rest of the year. And that's before you account for complicated relationships like Leonard and Penny's, where one half is getting his romantic ninja action on and the other is binge-drinking red wine like she's at a VD mixer at Delta House.

Still, change is in the air over at The Big Bang Theory, and has been since the show returned from its winter hiatus. There’s always the chance that the show's current storylines are all just some experiment gone horribly wrong, but at the moment, their effects on the core characters are plentiful and generally awesome. So awesome.

But first, a bit more of the same. Enough of the same that I was ready to write off the first half of “The Tangible Affection Proof” as typical Big Bang Theory tropes jazzed up with some candy and hearts for the special occasion. Amy was stoked about the holiday while Sheldon enlisted Alex (HI ALEX!) to do his boyfriend work and buy Amy a gift. One of Penny’s exes almost ruined everything. And Raj and Stu threw a singles party at the comic book store for “people who don’t have dates,” codespeak for “nerds.” Cuz you know, nerds NEVER have dates on Valentine’s Day.

Raj talked himself into an awkward hole when he pointed out that he and Stu would have “solved all their problems” if only Stu was female because they do awesome stuff like read comics and go the movies and play video games and we all know that women NEVER do those things. Ever. Under any circumstances. The payoff to Raj’s storyline was pretty great, though. He’s TOTALLY “that guy.” You know, the one who rallies the troops to reject the holiday, preaching solidarity and positive self-worth beyond a romantic relationship, only to bail as soon as a girl agrees to get coffee with him. Typical Raj.

Typical Penny and Leonard, too, with Leonard like an eager puppy in his enthusiasm to take Penny out and Penny kind of bored and irritated by the whole thing. It must be so hard to be so desirable, Penny. Really. A nice dude is eager to buy you dinner on Valentine’s Day. Your life is so hard. Though the idea that overeager Leonard could whip out another ill-timed marriage proposal was probably plenty to deflate that heart-shaped balloon floating over Penny’s head.

But then The Big Bang Theory made fun of Leonard’s penchant for proposing and it was glorious. And THEN, for a show that occasionally gets some flack for how it treats its women like plot points, TBBT handed the keys to the Leonard and Penny's relationship over to Penny. After an honest discussion about Penny’s commitment issues, Leonard promised to never propose to her again and for a second there, I thought we had another break-up on our hands. Instead, he insisted that the next proposal must come from her. CRISIS AVERTED.

Sure, if we are so inclined to rage about how the whole system of the guy asking for the gal’s hand is antiquated and sexist, we can. It’s there. But at the moment, I’m not so inclined. It was such a great moment for Leonard and Penny, understanding each other on an intimate level and for once, rather than letting their insecurities tear their relationship apart, they just laughed about it. When Penny hopefully eventually gets to the point that she wants to marry Leonard, Leonard expects to be DAZZLED by the display. I’m thrilled that Penny’s fake-out question, “Will you be my Valentine?” was just that—even if the line was kind of lame—because I can’t wait for the eventual ACTUAL proposal episode... if TBBT sticks to its guns and goes there.

Please go there?

Across the hall, Amy and Sheldon also connected in a way that we don’t often see with those two... or rather, haven’t seen much of until lately. I mean, wow, when this show decides to stop screwing around and advance its characters already, it just dives right in and does it. Knowing that Amy would be putting her everything into V-Day—and I’m assuming she made sure there was a Valentine’s Day clause somewhere in the relationship agreement—Sheldon assigned poor Alex to go shopping for the perfect present. Probably not the best approach, but still, good effort. At least he bothered, right? Right.

Sheldon hilariously dismissed each of Alex’s gift suggestions crap, except for the awesome one he kept for himself, and faced with the dire prospect of not having a present for Amy, Sheldon actually managed to give her something sweet, personal, and very Amy-appropriate all on his own. Oh, it totally backfired for Amy because of course it did, but OMG her face when Sheldon told her he'd changed his employee paperwork to make her his emergency contact. HER FACE. The creepy oversharing about her sexual desires for Sheldon aside, all the woman really wants is to be a valued part of his life, and on some level, Sheldon got that. So much Sheldon-growth lately, you guys. I don’t know what to do with it all.

But unfortunately for Amy, Sheldon is kind of a hypochondriac.


What did you think of this episode?



The Stray Observation Addendum


– One-liner of the night: “I know, I propose a lot.” —Leonard

– I’m starting to realize that Howard and Bernadette are kind of boring now that they’re married.

– Poll time! Who gave the best Valentine's Day gift?

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  • efonsecajr Feb 26, 2013

    I need to get back to watching this show.

  • RichardCarlso Feb 21, 2013

    Great episode, but I can't stand Bernadette. She is a witch. Stopped caring for her character since the ep where she forced Howard to take her along on the weekend the guys had planned a Star Wars online game marathon. And then the ep where she tried to ruin Howard's chance to be an astronaut. She has Howard completely under her foot. The Howard character was much funnier before he hooked up with her. Now he's just pathetically whipped.

  • jekyll Feb 21, 2013

    I could have done without the return of "shrew Bernadette"

  • ionee24 Feb 20, 2013

    I think Amy is a lucky gal, not many can say they are fully capable to seduce Sheldon Cooper no matter how long it takes. She's growing on him and that's all that matters.

    I even liked Raj speech about not letting a relationship define his self worth ("See you losers" at the end and all)

  • SarahHagen2 Feb 18, 2013

    Love Amy's valentine gift. They keep moving their relationship, ever so slowly, to where Sheldon may succumb to actual feelings and give Amy some sweet lovin'... well, aloof but effective lovin.'
    Also, kudos to Leonard putting the ball in Penny's court. This is the first time in a long time where I haven't hated their relationship (well, Penny anyway for being a selfish bitch when it comes to Leonard) and hopefully they'll keep moving forward too, but honestly stopped caring about them awhile back.
    Favorite relationship is Howard and Berny. I don't care if they seem boring, they're adorableness was the only reason I kept watching TBBT earlier this season.
    Let's not forget Raj's new love interest tho, love Kate Micucci! Here's hoping Raj stops being the show's sad sack, and hey, was I wrong or was he talking to a girl normally? Or did he have a beer? Can't remember.

  • gfweiss Feb 18, 2013

    Can anyone tell me the meaning of Sheldon's shirt puzzle in this episode? It had a scull shape with two x's for eyes + a ring = some super hero.

  • SarahHagen2 Feb 18, 2013

    Green Lantern. Wasn't a skull, was an alien. Ring + Alien powers = Superhero.

  • Glennen Feb 17, 2013

    Anyone, when Raj is making his speech at the end, there is a rather corpulent guy with glasses sitting at the table with his back to Raj (opposite Lonely Larry). Is it just me or is that the same guy from one of the SuperBowl commercials (something with a website, he was seen in there making out with a hot blonde)

  • SarahHagen2 Feb 18, 2013

    Yup, he is the god of extras. He's been on TBBT before as part of Wil Wheaton's entourage, but he's also been in the background on a bunch of shows. Jesse Heiman. Youtube 'world's greatest extra.'

  • tv_gonzo Feb 17, 2013

    This episode was pretty much awful in my opinion. Penny was terrible rude to Leonard. Leonard himself wasn't much better either. Constantly screaming something about love ninjas which isn't terribly romantic. My biggest complaint i guess is that Penny said she was really happy, which startled me completely because she didn't look happy at all. And hasn't for a while. When Penny and Leonard first started dating in season 3 you really got a sense of how happy they make it each other. We actually spent some time with them, and the time we did spend with them they weren't constantly bickering or proposing

  • JT_Kirk Feb 17, 2013

    Geez MaryAnn, sorry to hear you haven't been visited by the Ghost of Valentines' Future yet. ;-) I hear all what you're saying, but yikes, dark!

    This episode started before 8pm here in LA, my DVR confirmed this by cutting off the cold open aside from its last line.

    Anyway, this was an interesting episode in that the first half was standard lazy sitcom fare while the second half backed slowly out of the pit it dug itself into. Penny at some point I think needs to address her life as a whole, it seems utterly stuck in a rut and incapable of moving forward until she addresses it, and her unhappiness with her relationship is a big factor - is she settling for Leonard, or is her inability to move forward with Leonard to the next level merely another symptom? When the writers figure that out, I think the show will have earned the right to have her play the proposal card, but to be honest I don't think I even want to bother to see that anymore, just hint at it in the final season but don't make us watch any of it because it'll be cocked up for sure.

    Sheldon meanwhile had a bit of a backslide as a human being, but at least made something out of it, although his gift might end up costing him Amy if she doesn't get something more out of it. Alex is finding out that it's time to move on in her career, that smart people aren't usually worthy of worship and one has to become one's own master. Will she be able to get out, or will her growing unhappiness with Sheldon doom her? This episode at least made me curious to watch what happens next.

    Howard and Bernie were a pathetic, hollow sitcom couple - you are so right that they're boring now - but at least cracked me up with the way their story played out on the revelation of the xbox. Raj's storyline was interesting, and it was great to see The Gooch (although who are these women who appeared in the comic shop party?) and Raj's little awkwardness about making his big speech felt very authentic, well-acted even if it set up the dopiest punchline ever.

    You know, Leonard's was the best gift because of the potential ramifications that come with it, that he's willing to give up something so important to their relationship's future to make Penny happy, that gift affects their future considerably and changes their dynamic quite a bit. I had been thinking it was Amy for giving up her romantic demands but it was just for that one night.

    Penny should dump Leonard, either they're compatible or they're not, she's living in between and stringing them both along. Shit or get off the pot, woman!

  • LauraGomes Feb 17, 2013

    How about Sheldon's perception on what Amy likes? "I think she likes monkeys and the color grey". I know that is her work and clothes, but when he said "color grey" I couldn't avoid thinking about Fifty Shades of Gray and that episode when Sheldon spanked Amy...

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