As much as the gang likes to give Penny grief for being the only one among them who doesn’t have fancy academic credentials, one of the surest (and too infrequently deployed) bets for a funny plot is Penny’s common sense trumping her friends’ alleged intellectual superiority.
Like in this episode, in which Penny starts thumbing through a parenting book Bernadette leaves at the Hofstadter homestead. Leonard, of course, makes a joke about what a rare occurrence it is to see Penny reading, but she gets the last laugh (and several more before it), when she realizes the psychological principles behind dealing with a young child can also be used to deal effectively with a genius, but emotionally, um, youthful, adult.
Yes, I’m talking about Sheldon.
When Sheldon is upset that Amy will be working late in her lab with collaborator Howard, Penny culls from the book, asking Sheldon if he’s frustrated and telling him that she would be, too. He says maybe he’s overreacting, but she assures him his feelings are valid. Then she invites the newly calmed Sheldon to dine with her and Leonard.
“What did you do? Are you a witch?!” Leonard asks.
Nope, that’s just taking your book learnin’ and applying it in the most practical of ways, Lenny.
Bernie does the same thing with Sheldon, exploiting a different book. Sheldon and Raj are both upset that Amy is using Howard’s engineering know-how on her neuroprosthetics project, because it’s depriving both fellas of time with their favorite people. (Yes, the obligatory Howard as Raj’s work wife joke is made.) Both Sheldon and Raj are also driving Bernie bananas with their complaints about the Amy-Howard teamwork, and when Sheldon wishes he could make Howard as unhappy as he is, Bernadette has an idea about how she can spin this annoyance into household chore gold.
After she asks if Sheldon has ever read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer — he hasn’t — she tells him something that would really make Howard angry is missing out on one of his favorite activities, doing chores. Changing the batteries in the smoke alarms, running loads of laundry, cleaning the oven: Those are things Howard sure loves to do, Bernie says, which makes the gullible Sheldon volunteer to perform the work himself, cackling that he’s pulling one over on Howard.
It’s only after Raj arrives — to annoy Bernadette with more of his whining about Howard — and reveals to Sheldon that Howard hates performing the jobs he just completed that Sheldon realizes Bernadette just manipulated him into being her taskrabbit.
Bernie: “Sure did.”
Meanwhile, all the girls just wanna have fun, and although she’s the only one not intentionally poking at Sheldon, Amy Farrah Fowler is having a good time, too. She’s charmed by Howard’s amateur magic tricks and his contributions to her work are significant, but the highlight of their time together is that it allows them to indulge their shared love of Neil Sedaka, which they do by singing and dancing along to “Calendar Girl.”
And now we know the two of them have a thing for lite rockers named Neil, on the heels of their season seven bonding over their shared love of the song stylings of Neil Diamond.
• Amy: “At work we’ve been doing some interesting research with neuroprosthetics.” Penny: “Neat! I’ve been rewatching The O.C., so we’re all leading productive lives.”
• Does it seem surprising to anyone else that Sheldon hasn’t read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? I mean, he did skip a lot of grades, so it’s possible that some basic American literature slipped past him, but it’s still a book I would have assumed he had read at some point. Perhaps this is a detail they can address on Young Sheldon …
• Penny: “Bernadettes’s parenting book, it’s like the answer key to the Sheldon test.”
• “Ooh, he’s gonna be steamed. Just like his dress shirts.” — Sheldon, thinking he’s just made Howard angry by depriving him of doing his own laundry.
• “The adult shampoo hurts my man eyes.” — Sheldon, on why his shampoo comes in a Big Bird bottle.
• Amy, sharing with Howard a series of text messages she’s receiving: “Oh, that’s Sheldon. He’s upset with Leonard and Penny … and Bernadette … and Mark Twain.”
• “In the book this movie is based on, that man’s the killer.” — Sheldon to Raj during their movie night, which is probably their last movie night.
• Raj, discussing the stuffed animal he keeps, er, kept, on his bed: “I used to have the raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy, but Cinnamon licked it raw.” Howard: “There’s a time and place for your randy dog stories … it’s never and nowhere.”