The sixth season of The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) explores relationships and social ties on a much deeper level around the show’s central characters: Raj, Howard, Leonard, Sheldon and Penny. The show has added the character of Alex Jansen, Sheldon’s graduate research assistant, to create havoc in the relationships within the group dynamics as well as their interactions with their love interests.
In the latest episode, viewers of TBBT see how Alex and her growing infatuation with Leonard introduce a new level of chaos in the way that a third party can bring to a shaky relationship.
The episode starts with Sheldon, dressed like a mini Bob the Builder, attempting to build a giant Jenga puzzle, which crashes shortly thereafter — a metaphor for the whole episode.
Leonard receives an invitation from Alex to a scientific lecture and really wishes he could attend, but turns her down because he has to spend time with Penny. As some of the die-hard fans already know, Leonard and Penny have had an on-again, off-again relationship. This creates great drama and tension within the show, especially when there is now competition for the affection of one person: Leonard.
Leonard is unaccustomed to being the target of desire by the opposite sex. In this episode, the extra attention Alex gives Leonard makes him almost the personification of Anderson Cooper with Justin Bieber is discussed. He's just got an extra swing in his step.
Meanwhile, Sheldon tries to strategize ways to curtail what he sees as Alex's baser attempts to reproduce (from an evolutionary standpoint) with Leonard by meeting up with Bernadette, Penny and Amy. Since Sheldon isn't familiar with the inner workings of the female dynamics, he presents special t-shirts to his lady friends. I’m not digging the pink t-shirt nor the name: Sheldon Cooper's Council of Ladies. It sounds like Romney’s ‘binders full of women’ remark.
Amy tries to soothe Penny by offering her “cocaine-addicted monkeys with nothing to lose.” The female collective group dynamics typically supports a “good” female (Penny) against a "bad" one (Alex), and it just seems overdone. We’ve seen this before with Priya, Leonard’s old love interest whose character was a lawyer.
While Leonards thinks that Alex is just being “friendly” with her open invites, Penny acts defensive. At first, she “wants to kill” Alex and gets mad at Leonard for not disclosing the latest invitation. She’s got a valid reason for being insecure.Alex, a beautiful and smart theoretical physicist, could very well be a good match for Leonard.
As a result of Sheldon’s not quite accurate sexual harassment charge (human resources is contacted to validate whether or not it is true), Regina King guest stars as the HR manager who grills Sheldon. In his typical fashion, he buckles under pressure, insults HR and questions whether PMS may be a factor at play here, managing to get everyone in trouble. This exchange between Sheldon and HR was hilarious.
As the episode comes to a close, Leonard serenades Penny with his cello to make nice. Penny also makes amends to Leonard. She accepts his apology and dons on a pair of glasses to appear smart, appealing to his inner fantasy in a sexy librarian kind of way that guys find intriguing.
And Sheldon is ordered to take an online sexual harassment course, but because his time is too valuable, he delegates this task onto Alex. As a female, I’m bothered by this. Sheldon’s attempt to take shortcuts reinforces the mentality that a man’s time is worth more than a woman. Furthermore, it doesn’t alleviate the problem of Sheldon’s misguided notions about people or social boundaries.
Throughout this newest episode, the characters of TBBT assumed a rigid, stereotypical and conventional role in the male-female dynamics. Considering that the role of women is held to a higher standard nowadays, and that the rumblings of a ‘Feminist Spring’ are stirring in some parts of the world, I’m a bit disappointed at how one-dimensional the actors seem to be tonight.