Even Vulture’s resident Big Bang Theory apologist isn’t above hitting a breaking point, and for me, that came last fall after ten years of a slow, painful build up: The cast, despite being monumentally well-paid for saying things like “Bazinga!” and “Science!” were some of the worst fake-eaters in the history of television. The worst. Pieces of chicken are picked up, looked at, and gently put down. A salad is somehow cut to smithereens with a knife. Fresh-from-the-restaurant containers of noodles are conspicuously empty, perfect for l’arte de faux-twirl. If you see something, say something. And I chose to say something, owing to the show’s ostensible mandate to include a prolonged eating scene in every episode.
That is, until this 12th (and final) season debuted. Something happened. It was a marvel. The characters began to — how do I put this? — pick up food with utensils and actually put it into their mouths, swallowing, et al. The fifth episode, not to be outdone, was also uncharacteristically devoid of a group munching scene. Why the sudden shift, you ask? No one can say for sure. But as Kunal Nayyar, a.k.a. Raj, recently explained on Conan, perhaps it’s because the actors no longer have … a fear of choking? “It’s tricky acting and eating at the same time, because you have to time your bites with the joke,” Nayyar recalled. “Sometimes you choke. When the camera cuts away, you kind of spit your food out, but then when it comes back to you, you’re chewing.” CBS, please feed the cast soft foods only!
But back to the swallowing. This season began innocently enough, with a kernel or two of snacks.
And then it escalated to more significant items, like a potato salad.
Or even a delicious ‘lil pickle.
Scratch that, make it two delicious ‘lil pickles.
U-S-A! U-S-A! B-B-T! B-B-T!
It’s not like the show still doesn’t have its noticeable food problems, though. Jim Parsons, bless the talented guy’s heart, is averse to putting anything within close proximity to his mouth. He’s stuck with his tried and true Empty Bowl With Undisclosed Substance™ up-and-down method.
And he always shall, impressive Emmys streak be damned.
But actual close-up shots of food consumption? That’s what the folks in showbiz call progress, baby.
Your move, Young Sheldon!