The Big Bang Theory's Season 6 Premiere: Date Night

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Sep 28, 2012

The Big Bang Theory S06E01: “The Date Night Variable”

Howard Wolowitz was living the dream when The Big Bang Theory returned for Season 6 last night: He’s happily married to brainy, geeky, sexy Bernadette AND he’s a freaking astronaut. Life was pretty awesome for about thirty seconds. Then his mom called. No, not even space is free of Mama Wolowitz’s overbearing presence.

It’s part of a sitcom’s nature that though certain details may change, the core of a series must largely stay the same. They just aren’t intended to serve as deep, complicated explorations of complex characters or situations. Sure, you can happen upon the occasional exception, like Scrubs, but for the most part, the fundamentals that are present in the first season stick around until the very end. Sometimes it’s welcome and comforting and sometimes it’s tiring and annoying. I think The Big Bang Theory currently falls somewhere in the middle.

Howard may have “won” in that he got his girl and his dream job, evolving into something more palatable than his early days as the creepiest of creeps, but he’s still incapable of standing up to his mother. If anything, we learned in “The Date Night Variable” that Howard has twice the trouble to look forward to when he inevitably returns to Earth, caught between the iron wills of his mother and his wife.

When Bernadette pressed Howard to tell his mother that they were moving out of the house and getting their own place, Howard assured Bernadette that he would. When Mama Wolowitz accidentally learned their plan from Bernadette and confronted Howard about it, he evaded the subject. While Howard’s life has probably undergone the most noticeable changes out of all of The Big Bang Theory’s characters, he’s still pretty much a giant schmuck and a wuss and by the end of “The Date Night Variable” he resolved nothing.

That same SAMENESS applies to our other couples: Amy and Sheldon and Penny and Leonard. In an attempt to smooth things over after his awful mid-coitus marriage proposal, Leonard crafted the ideal evening for Penny: sports, beer, wings, and burgers. He promised not to bring up the messy state of their relationship, and then in typical neurotic Leonard fashion, he did just that. Poor Penny. But then again, when HASN’T their relationship been ten seconds away from implosion and did she HONESTLY think that he wouldn’t use the opportunity to grill her about whether or not she’s still his ladyfriend? Seriously.

Amy and Sheldon celebrated their anniversary as much as Amy and Sheldon are capable of celebrating anything. Amy forced Sheldon to take her on a nice dinner date by reminding him of the stipulations set forth in their Relationship Agreement. He reluctantly took her out, but cited a loophole in the contract that allowed him to outsource his significant other obligations to Raj. Amy was understandably displeased and came THIS close to quitting Team Sheldon, but Amy is, sad though it repeatedly makes me feel for her, the most compatible woman on the show for Sheldon. Her willingness to take what she can get meant that Sheldon’s half-hearted recitation of a romantic line from Spiderman was more than enough to save the relationship.

Meandering through each botched date was Raj, sad and lonely in the wake of BFF Howard’s marriage and mission to space. After finding himself kicked out of Sheldon and Amy’s date, Raj crashed Penny and Leonard’s awkward-fest. Penny welcomed the distraction from Leonard’s inquisition, but sent Raj away after he tried to facilitate the discussion that Penny had clearly intended to avoid by indulging in his company.

While his friends and their respective partners tripped over the same obstacles they’ve struggled with for several seasons, Raj struck out on his own. He wandered into the comic shop and shared a drink with owner Stu, bonding over their mutual love of bossanova music and beaches and... and then things got rather interesting.

Did Raj ask Stu on a date? The canon and fandom alike have theorized about Raj’s sexuality from the very beginning and the occasional playful detail has been dropped into his characterization from time to time to keep the gay/not-gay debate going. From his accidental kiss with Howard in Season 4 to his admission of once “accidentally” going to a gay bar, the question has always lingered over Raj’s head.

After some initial awkwardness over drinks with Stu, Raj stammered that he had to go, then paused at the last minute to ask Stu if he’d like to get dinner the next day. Stu said that he couldn’t really afford to splurge on going out, to which Raj assured him that it was fine. It would be his treat. While nothing was blatantly confirmed on Raj’s end, Stu’s comment that he “could do worse” certainly implies that at least one of them considers date night confirmed.

What do you think?

The Stray Observation Addendum

– One-liner of the night: Bernadette’s threatening, “You know that thing that I said I would do to you when you got home? You can do it to yourself.”

– Leonard’s painted “GO SPORTS!” across his stomach was priceless. Too bad he had to blow it by being needy and demanding. Is anyone even cheering for Leonard and Penny as a couple anymore?

– What do you hope to see happen this season?

  • Comments (28)
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  • giantmantis Oct 02, 2012

    Kingbasil...for a guy to say gays aren't normal in India is odd. Let me ask you this? When you dress up real nice what do you wear? A dress you say! Okay how many musicals are you a fan of? What do you mean Bollywood is all musicals...Alright how about this, do you bath with oils and scented flowers? You do! Wow and all your friends too?

    I don't know dude india sounds pretty gay...

  • giantmantis Oct 02, 2012

    First of all saying that the Leonard and Penny thing is getting boring is odd. Consider this, after a season of progression in his character Leonard jumps back into old traits in the premier of the next season. Is that regression or a plot device to remind the viewer of their current problems to start the season? my guess would be that he is smart enough to not fall into old pitfalls. Though some folks here brought up the good point that Penny won't find anyone better and i think she knows it now but just hasn't come to terms with it.

    As for Amy and Sheldon, I can't believe how people are ragging on Sheldon. Amy if you recall was just like Sheldon when she was first introduced. She was distant, calculating and indifferent to others. Now she wants to be closer to Sheldon then even she would have been comfortable with a few seasons back. And Sheldon is actually changing little by little for her. Those two are the poster children for modern adult relationships. No matter how much you think you have in common in the beginning, someone is going to try and change the other.

    Raj is not gay. If he was it would have come up much earlier and i doubt the writers will make him gay to branch off to a new plot. if anything Stewart might be bi or even gay and there might be some hilarity because of it but that is just something fresh to put in the premier instead of just continuing the same plots from last season. Quick imagine the same episode with Raj just sitting at home calling Howard in space. not as fun is it.

    This season we can look forward to three things: One, Penny and Leonard will cement their relationship, one way or the other. Two, Raj will get a girlfriend and be happy (for once). And finally, (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) Amy will seduce Sheldon in the last half of the season...perhaps right near the end.

    I can't wait to see how this all unfolds :D

  • NadiaPillay Oct 01, 2012

    I expected so much more from this episode.. It seems that the two couples(Penny/Leonard and Sheldon/Amy) are stuck in a rut. I'm sure the rest of the season will get better. As for Raj, I don't think making him gay is right for the show but I would like to see him and Stu waking up naked together after drinking a little too much.

  • TypeB Oct 01, 2012

    Kind of predictable.

    Penny should get over herself. Leonard should start pursuing a hotter real blonde.

    Amy should begin dating a much smarter dude.

  • GirishStewart Oct 01, 2012

    I'm glad you guys aren't reviewing that horrible travesty - Two and a Half Men!

    Anyway, Sheldon started annoying me 2 seasons ago. So much so that I waited till season 5 was over to watch them at a stretch. Now he's just unbearable half the time.

    Raj was freaking hilarious! Loved it when he tried to get Penny to confess her love for Sheldon. At the comic book store, I thought it was just Raj's dorky way of asking Stu to simply hang out. I just hope they don't make him completely gay very soon if they do go that route.

    Is anybody even remotely interested in Leonard and Penny's relationship anymore! I'm not! Leonard had a good character development last season and they ruined it all in this episode.

  • petemonster Sep 30, 2012

    I was bored and annoyed by this episode

  • Mantis82 Sep 30, 2012

    As much as i like the show, they are really milking the foreigner being a loser bit. Lets see, all the white guys mature and get into relationships, while raj stays the same, or becomes more of a loser as time goes on. Sorry for the bitter comment, just cant help but notice it.

  • CrazyAsian1080 Sep 30, 2012

    Honestly the only person that has "grown" is Howard. All the other characters have just been Homernized (exaggeration of a character's more defining qualities/what the audience enjoys the most) it actually getting painful to watch.

  • CrazyAsian1080 Sep 29, 2012

    I can write you the Raj/Stu story line right now

    1. One thinks it's a romantic relationship while the other thinks it's just a friendship

    2. Many misunderstanding moments where hilarity ensues

    3. People point out that one of them thinks it's more than a bromance

    4. They give it a go but realize they are straight after an awkward attempted kissing scene

    5. At some point there Howard is jealous of Stu

    6. Stu becomes part of the group

  • CrazyAsian1080 Sep 29, 2012

    Not accepted and not normal aren't the same thing. Statistically it makes no sense for India (or China) to have less homosexuals than other countries. I mean those two countries literally make up 2/7 of the world population.

  • TonyOlagbaiye Sep 29, 2012

    You sicken me

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