It’s beyond tiresome that The Big Bang Theory continues to crack a ton of jokes about the idea that Leonard has coupled with someone far above his attractiveness station. This week, Leonard finally gets the chance to gloat about his position in the relationship.
“The Fetal Kick Catalyst” begins with Penny receiving an invitation to appear at the Van Nuys Comic Con to sign autographed photos for fans. Leonard at first slags the Con as being lame, but when he hears Penny has been invited as a celebrity guest — Serial Ape-ist fans do exist, it seems — he’s so excited that he tells her to sign on. He even makes sure she’s got plenty of pics to sign, Sharpies to sign them with, and inexplicably, a mechanical change-maker to dispense coins. Penny suggests selling the autographed pics for $5 and $10 instead of his proposed $4.75 and $9.95, and he looks as crestfallen as he was the last time she turned down one of his marriage proposals (as he’ll remind us later, there were several).
At the Con, Penny is confused to hear that fans love her, but it’s because her acting in Serial Ape-ist was so bad they wonder if she was intentionally terrible, or just naturally a terrible actress. This joke grows less funny as it goes on, especially since these fanboys (and yes, these particular fans are all men) have much to say about Penny’s shower scene. It’s a reminder that pop-culture conventions aren’t always the kindest place for women to be (hence those “cosplay is not consent” signs at New York Comic Con and the like).
After finding out Leonard is Penny’s husband, the fanboys’ attention turns to how that could possibly be true, which eventually turns Penny’s autograph table into a Leonard seminar for a group of Serial Ape-ist viewers who are suddenly far more interested in hearing about how he not only continued to ask Penny to marry him after multiple rejections, but how she even once proposed to him … and he turned her down. So, one fan asks, she married him because he’s rich, right? No, Leonard answers: “She makes more money than I do!”
Leonard’s feeling like the king of the con, er Con, for a spell, and Penny is left with a look on her face that says she probably shouldn’t have taken advice from a guy who was so excited to wear a change-maker that he purchased one for his very own belt. Hooray for ol’ Lenny for getting his moment of hero worship from his fellow fanboys, but again, this never-ending string of jokes about his unworthiness of Penny is the series’ worst ongoing cliché, especially 10 seasons in. Penny has evolved in plenty of positive ways (maturity-wise, confidence-wise, being-able-to-go-toe-to-toe-with-Sheldon-in dealing-with-his-fussiness-wise), even though the character relied on her physical looks and didn’t spend a lot of time developing much else in the early seasons. And yes, Leonard has been whiny, arrogant, dismissive, and needy on too many occasions. How’s about we all (meaning you, too, TBBT writers) just accept that they’re each deserving of the other and find humor in other areas of their coupledom? M’kay?
As for the rest of the gang, Sheldon surprises Amy by throwing a surprise brunch after she suggests they start entertaining as a couple during their cohabitation experiment. Unfortunately, Mr. Chatty reveals to their guests — Stuart, Bert, and neighbor Mrs. Petrescu, who only speaks in the English she learns from TV shows and commercials — that they’re the D-list, i.e. the practice guests Sheldon is using to perfect his brunch game for his real friends. That doesn’t settle well with Stuart, who’s tired of being the gang’s punching bag. Sheldon apologizes for hurting Stuart’s feelings, and the two make up while exchanging examples of the things they love about each other while downing a number of mixed drinks. Drunken Sheldon and Stuart is a good time that should be revisited.
Finally, there’s Howard, Bernadette, and Raj, that increasingly odd couple plus one. After feeling the baby kick, it occurs to Howard that there’s an actual baby inside Bernie’s belly, which then causes panic that they aren’t at all ready to bring a child into their lives. That sends Howard — and Raj, of course — on a shopping spree the next day, and he comes home with a few surprises for Bernie: a crib that is described as “a Fortress of Solitude for babies,” and a minivan, which, in answer to her objections, Howard says the salesman specifically described as not just for moms anymore. But as Raj points out, the salesman said that while assuming Howard and Raj were a couple. You can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
- Mrs. Petrescu … say her name slowly, breaking it into individual syllables. Cute, right?
- “You’ll have nerds fawning all over you. If you don’t love that, this marriage is in trouble.” — Leonard, trying to convince Penny to attend the Van Nuys Comic Con.
- Another VNCC selling point for Leonard: “An appearance by George Lucas … ‘s dermatologist.”
- Sheldon is annoyed by “the UPS driver who feels the need to ask how parts of me are hanging.”
- Amy, responding to Sheldon’s surprise that she’s surprised at his brunch surprise: “That’s not a surprise at all. If I knew you were good at surprises, I would have expected the surprise and therefore not have been surprised, but I didn’t know, so my surprise should be unsurprising.”
- Sheldon: “Don’t get me all randy! Guests are on the way.”
- Kevin Sussman could and should teach a master class in reaction faces for supporting actors in sitcoms. Stuart’s reaction faces have stolen many a scene on this show.