Not so fast, those of us who thought the whole gang had rapidly and rather seamlessly taken giant leaps forward lo these many months.
Is Raj a newly independent man, no longer sponging off his parents, no longer living beyond his means with an apartment he can’t afford and with more realistic expectations of what his salary can provide him? Yes.
Is Raj also now sponging off his friends, passing up free board in Howard and Bernadette’s garage for nicer — yet still free — accommodations in Sheldon’s old room at Penny and Leonard’s apartment? Also yes.
I get it. Raj is in a jam, and it’s a financial hole he did not dig himself into overnight. It will take longer than a day to see his way out of it. But going from allowing your wealthy father to pay your living expenses to allowing your peers to do so feels like a lateral move, and that’s only if you want to be really generous and deny that Raj just traded one parasitical scenario for another.
His new digs do allow him to save money on rent, but one core question remains unanswered in any satisfactory way: Why can’t Raj simply live within his means, on what is, presumably, the same general range of salary his friends and fellow Caltech scientists live on?
Sure, Howard lived at home with his mother before marrying Bernie, so he, too, was all about the sponging, but aside from maturing enough to learn to treat Bernadette in a respectful way, H. Wolowitz has hardly been an example for pretty much any area of adulating.
But what about Sheldon and Leonard? Before recent marriages and cohabitations, they shared a nice, roomy, two-bedroom apartment, and seemed to have plenty of cash for regular take out, restaurant nights, comic books, comic conventions, and more pop-culture collectibles than Stuart has in his comic book store inventory. Sheldon even had money to lend to Penny, and Leonard once bought Penny a used car, just as other examples of their non-cash-strappedness. They did it all on what, again, must be roughly the same salary Raj pulls down. Perhaps a roommate — one unlike Stuart, who Raj suggested apartment-sharing to, only to find out Stuart will ride the mooch train until it runs off the track or until Bernie and Howard kick his ass to the curb, which is, of course, the more likely event — would be Raj’s smartest, truly most mature choice, an admission on his part that it should be his own sacrifice, and not his friends’, that changes his life.
Of course, it takes Leonard’s meddlesome mama Beverly to point out that Raj’s friends aren’t making those offers of a free bunk altogether selflessly. Leonard and Penny, Beverly says, continued to live with Sheldon in their apartment for the first part of the marriage. Now that they finally have their place to themselves, they invite another friend to move in with them. Buffer much? Yup. When Sheldon left, Lenny needed another place to focus their attention and energy, lest they be forced to really delve into the glaring issues in their relationship. They try, unconvincingly, to deny that Beverly is correct, but she strikes a nerve with her observation.
Ditto Sheldon’s attempt to pretend he’s not upset about Raj living in his old room at Casa Hofstadter. He resents the takeover, and the takeaway from Beverly’s analyzation is that Sheldon saw his old room as the titular escape hatch, a way out in case his increasingly serious and close romance with Amy Farrah Fowler fails and he wants to flee. Sheldon, to his credit, quickly acknowledges Beverly is right, telling Amy he does indeed love a good contingency plan. He’s even given a lot of thought — a little too much for comfort, actually — to the order in which he’d eat his friends to survive in the event of an apocalypse: Penny would be the entrée, and Amy, because he loves her just this much, would be the dessert. “I wanna say, ‘Awwwwww,’ but I’m gonna say, ‘Ewwwwwww,’” Amy tells him.
Anyway, the bottom line is that the whole of season ten so far — and this last batch of episodes, especially — has been one massive maturing block for Raj and his friends. But Raj’s particular issues with moving forward have really served to shed light on how maybe no one should be feeling superior to him; they’ve all still got some thangs to work on.
• Sheldon, who fears pooches, shares the best description ever of Raj’s fluffy little ball of dogginess, Cinnamon: Sheldon says she’s an “attack Tribble.”
• More on Cinnamon: Penny reveals Raj likes to post videos — that’s multiple videos — of he and Cinnamon “Lady and the Tramp–ing” spaghetti.
• While the Hofstadters and the Wolowitzes are trying to figure out if they could, and wanted to, make room for Raj in their homes, Sheldon tries to convince Amy they definitely have room … for a life-size Spider-Man, Hulk, or Batman. She fights him, but in the end, a giant Caped Crusader is prominently displayed in the Cooper-Fowler living room.
• Sheldon’s tip for Raj as the new buffer in his old room: If he cries while Penny and Leonard are fighting, they’ll take him to McDonald’s.
• When Raj shows up at Howard’s house, in his bedroom, in the middle of the night, the whole house is frightened. Stuart, who busts in with a replica of Negan’s barbed-wire-covered bat from The Walking Dead, says he may be about to beat his high score on his blood-pressure machine.