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.
– 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?