The Big Bang Theory: The Workplace Proximity (7x05)
October 20th, 2013 4:19pm EDT
This episode was built around a simple premise, which usually makes for a focused story and some good jokes. However, I felt like a lot of the potential of this story was lost. There was nothing flat out terrible about it, but I just didn't really enjoy it the way I wanted to.
Basically, Amy gets an opportunity to work at Caltech, and she checks with Sheldon to make sure he's okay working in such close proximity to her. He says yes initially, but a conversation with Howard changes his mind. Essentially, Howard says that spending that much time with Amy is bound to annoy him, just like it would annoy Howard if he had to see Bernadette all day at work. Unfortunately for Howard, Sheldon repeats this statement to Amy and the other girls. Bernadette and Amy are both furious at their significant others.
Amy declares that she's going to work at Caltech anyway, and when Sheldon tries to make nice by talking to Amy's research colleagues, he only succeeds in embarrassing her. In the end, Sheldon goes to try and make things better between them. In a moment that could have been really meaningful, he says it can be difficult to be in a relationship with someone who has trouble with social situations. But, as it turns out, he was talking about Amy and not himself. This moment could have been an interesting opportunity to look at a more serious aspect to their relationship, but instead it was turned entirely into a joke.
The same sort of thing happened with the Howard and Bernadette plot. Howard, kicked out of his house, has been staying with Raj. The two of them are having a lot of fun playing video games and eating food. There were some decently funny jokes about the ways in which Howard and Raj behave as a squabbling married couple. Bernadette comes over to try and patch things up with Howard, and she expresses that it hurts her feelings when Howard seems to want to spend all his time with his friends instead of her. Again, this moment started off as a really sweet examination of a real problem in their relationship. And, again, it was made into a joke. Howard says he'll start focusing more on their relationship... starting tomorrow, because he and Raj are having a good time. Predictably, this makes Bernadette pretty angry.
The tag at the end of the episode continued this disappointing trend. Penny says that she sent Leonard to talk to Sheldon and Howard about their bad behavior. When we cut to the boys, however, we see them playing with an (admittedly awesome) laser gun. Apparently, Amy and Bernadette's relationship woes are only to be treated as a joke. I thought this episode had opportunities to be more serious and balance in some real moments with the comedy. However, it instead dismissed these more serious moments and turned everything into a joke.
The only thing that could save this episode and give it a place amongst the greats would be this: what if this conflict actually continues into the future? What if Amy's growing dissatisfaction with her relationship is actually an element that continues to crop up and create a meaningful arc for her character, and also gives us a way to explore Sheldon's true feelings? I'm not holding my breath, but wouldn't that be refreshing?
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