Big Bang Theory – The Tangible Affection Proof


by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)

Did you know that Penny has commitment issues? Or that Raj is lonely? Or that Howard is a bit of a lazy git that doesn’t help out around the house? Or that your rectum may indeed have the sense of taste? You would if you tuned into last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory, “The Tangible Affection Proof.” Although, I’m not sure if I wanted to know that information about rectums. It’s a bit disturbing.

Rectums aside, it’s Valentine’s Day in Pasadena, and everyone is preparing for it in their own special ways. Leonard attempts to be a romance ninja for Penny, which backfires spectacularly. Strangely, it doesn’t backfire because of his ineptitude or inferiority complex, or his constant whining. This time his plans backfire because of Penny’s past and her glaringly obvious fear of commitment. Actually, “fear,” isn’t a strong enough word. Let’s go with unmitigated terror. Due to her past failures in relationships, for Penny, Valentine’s Day has become something of a symbol of those failures. While on their ninja double-date with Howard and Bernadette, Penny sees an old boyfriend at the same restaurant with the woman with whom he cheated on Penny. To make matters more uncomfortable, they watch as the couple get engaged. This is too much for Penny. She thinks that they should be miserable for their crimes, completely forgetting that she is happy, really happy, with Leonard. Rather than seeing it as a good thing that she’s been able to find love at long last, she’s snippy and vindictive. Haters: 1 Ninjas: 0.

After the nightmarish date, Penny is able to say that she is terrified of being happy with Leonard. Yeah, this bit doesn’t make any sense to me either, but it seems to be a common enough occurrence. There can be fear of failure, fear of bondage (not being free), fear of the unknown, fear of the effort involved in making a relationship work, and on and on. Commitment is a terrifying prospect, but it is also completely liberating. It is joy and freedom to be able to be who you are and be loved for who you are. It is actually quite liberating to be able to give your whole self to another person, and be accepted, and to accept another person in return. To that end, Leonard attempts to alleviate Penny’s fears by promising that he will never propose again. When she is ready, she can propose to him. This gives her some strength and assurance. It’s an unusually mature move from Leonard and shows that he is trusting Penny with his neuroses, and accepting hers. It’s the first step in the freedom that one receives through commitment.

As Leonard and Penny struggle with their issues, we have Howard and Bernadette facing the trials of married life. Namely, Howard won’t help around the house, and instead plays XBox all day. Now, I can respect a man who loves his XBox, but come on, man, laundry isn’t that difficult. I do it while playing my XBox. Throw a load in. Play XBox. Throw from washer to dryer, play XBox. Take 10 minutes to half-ass fold them, play more XBox. As far as chores around the house goes, it’s pretty awesome. So, Howard, you gotta grow up, man. Be a part of the team.

Even though Howard isn’t pulling his weight on this one-which isn’t very much at all by the look of him-I have to ask Bernadette: what? You didn’t know this was going to happen? Howard’s mom cut up his food for him, for crying out loud! If Howard and his mom were any closer, she’d chew it up for him, too. You know he hasn’t had to do anything. I doubt he even knows how to wash clothes to begin with. All the signs of this happening were right there. Bernadette, sorry, but this one’s on you.

But Bernadette doesn’t have it as…weird…as Amy does. Sheldon, who considers himself the boyfriend jackpot, farms out his Valentine’s plans to his assistant, Alex. Then, he’s not happy with anything she came up with. Thankfully, Amy has taken the romance by the horns and, as her gift to him, cancelled all her plans that she knew Sheldon wouldn’t enjoy. She wants to spend the evening doing all of Sheldon’s favorite things. Here’s the thing about love that I thought was wonderfully highlighted in this exchange: Amy’s complete self-sacrifice. Yes, it’s presented in a comedic fashion, but this is the truth of love: it’s about the other person, and when you make it about the other person, it becomes reciprocal. In this case, Sheldon has changed his employee file to add Amy as his emergency contact. This is something that touches Amy deeply. That is, until she realizes that becoming Sheldon’s favorite person has its drawbacks.

I’m glad that Sheldon hasn’t changed too much. He has grown immensely over the years, but he’s still Sheldon. In other words, yes, he did something really sweet and wonderful, but he’s still bat-crap crazy, and all sweet and wonderful things from the mind of Sheldon Lee Cooper come with strings-great big, unbreakable, crazy strings. In the South, we’d say, “Bless his heart,” and pray for Amy because she’s attached herself to a big ol’ bag of nuts.

And that leaves Raj, the man alone. Amid the uncomfortable things that Raj says, and the imagery he conjures up involving Stuart in a little black dress, he begins to learn a lesson. Or, at least, he voices a lesson that he should be learning, and that is this: you are not a freak, or a mutant, if you are currently unattached. You do not have to be ashamed, embarrassed, or bitter on Valentine’s Day if you don’t have a date. Look around at the community you are a part of. Enjoy it. The fact that so many people came to the comic shop to hang out on Valentine’s Day should bring comfort. This community is beautiful and should be celebrated, not lamented. That is, of course, until you ask a girl out for coffee and she agrees. Then it’s all, “Later, losers!” Way to stick to your principles there, Raj.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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