TV Review: Time to shoot Lenny in the head

Today is Thursday, which means “Quite Big Thursday” where E4 show four new comedy shows back to back. I watch all four, with varying degrees of interest/amusement.

  • The Big Bang Theory– What this post is all about.
  • How I Met Your Mother– On the last series, which has had some good moments but kinda just want them to get on with it, even though I know the ending will let me down.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine– Fast becoming one of my favourite shows. Andy Samberg is hilarious in this show.
  • 2 Broke Girls– Really stretching my affection/lust for Kat Dennings, this has a couple of good lines, but all too often feels lazy and tries to hard to be un-PC.

Kat Dennings, wasted with lazy scripts

Anyway, the line up kicks off with BBT, which I’ve always had mixed feelings about. Some of it is funny and I like the geeky references, but it’s fallen into the trap that Friends did for a bit, where all the characters are reduced to single features (Raj’s awkwardness/desperation and metrosexual nature is wearing thin). The problem was Friends did this near the end of it’s run when it had already got me invested in the characters and was consistently funny, with great performances.

The Big Bang Theory

My other beef is the Sheldon character, played with real skill by Jim Parsons, the problem is that Sheldon was annoying when he was an inconsiderate jerk who didn’t understand human interactions, but as the show continues and he learns more about relationships he’s even more annoying. Before he didn’t realize what he said/did was annoying or inappropriate, but they’ve told him now, so he’s just a bellend. I fully believe the series should end with the other characters bumping him off and getting away with it.

Sheldon Cooper- Performed well, but still irritating

Sheldon Cooper- Performed well, but still irritating

Whatever, in the most recent series to air on E4 (season 7) my ire has turned to a different focus. Or at least split focus.

What’s been grinding my gears is the relationship between Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) aka “Lenny”. The show is based on the hot girl moving in and her interactions with the awkward scientists, particularly Leonard who fancies her right off the bat. The show spent ages trying to get them together, only for them to break up and then get it on again a while later.

My problem with their relationship is that while at the start I was rooting for Leonard to get the girl of his dream, I really just want them to break up now. Or more importantly, I want Leonard to dump her.

The reason for this is that I really dislike Penny now. At the start she was the ditzy, sweet girl trying to make it big as an actress and working as a waitress. She was dumb but adorably sweet, however, at some point this has changed, while she always had a sharp zinger to throw at one of the other characters, she’s become a lot nastier and less likable over the show’s run.

This is evident in particular in her relationship with Leonard, who she routinely mocks and ignores. Flip the genders and she’d be the douchebag character who poses an obstacle until our heroine comes to her senses, listens to an empowering pop song and kicks his ass to the curb before meeting a decent guy. She’s been living opposite him for years and knows he’s a geek, so why is she still making fun of what he likes?

Another factor is the recent storyline where Penny decided to quit her job as a waitress to pursue her acting dream full time (incidentally her acting dream seems to vanish for long stretches, only to reappear when the plot needs it, at least Joey Tribbiani was always acting). In the episode where she breaks this news, Leonard hesitates in supporting her because of the risks. At which point she goes off in a mardy and the story ends with Leonard apologizing.

I fear the writers cocked up here, supporting someone doesn’t mean blindly agreeing to everything they do, and Leonard’s statement about her not even consulting him on the decision is twisted that he looks like a controlling douche. But he’s not. If you’re in a serious relationship, you’re meant to discuss big life decisions with each other, and if you think something might be a mistake or risky, you’re allowed to say that. It doesn’t make you unsupportive, because you’ll back them either way, even if it goes wrong, but you are entitled to express that view.

Similarly, Penny proposes to Leonard while drunk and then gets annoyed when he turns her down. Which is understandable, because she was drunk. However, surely the person who should be apologizing is Penny, because Leonard respected her and wasn’t going to accept a drunken proposal and hold her to it?

Then tonight’s episode tipped it over the edge. Penny’s car breaks down, ending a long running gag, and she misses out on a role she turned down as she thought it was beneath her. Skint, she may have to return to waitress work. But Leonard buys her a car.

Are you kidding me?

We have a character who’s meant to be a struggling actress get all snooty and turn down a paying gig, and then she gets a new car?

So basically the moral was: Be a dick and good things will happen, as long as you’re hot.

The problem I have, is not just that they’ve made Penny a lot less likable, but it’s effecting how I view the Leonard character too. The whole point is that he’s our protagonist, the most normal of the geeky foursome and the most likable, yet in this arc he’s just being shown to be frighteningly weak willed and a total doormat. Every time their relationship hits a bump he’s on the back foot, apologizing and making amends, even when he’s in the right. It’s hard to like and root for a character who shows so little backbone and doesn’t stand up for himself.

Leonard- No back bone

Leonard- No back bone

Penny consistently gives him flak for not being supportive, while treating his interests as foolish or lame, that’s not a good relationship.

That’s why, if I was writing it, I’d have them break up. And have Leonard pull the trigger. If he gets binned by Penny again and still hangs around he’s even more pathetic. He needs to dump her and make a serious go of it with another girl. They could get him and Penny together again, if they readjust her character and maybe make her realize her mistake (we’ve been here before, but it was handled poorly with the Priya storyline, where other obstacles gave the writers an easy out to free up Leonard). She could become nicer again and Leonard could grow in confidence.

Personally, I’d like it if they ended the show without them together. With Leonard happy with another girl, and Penny dating someone new too. It would show that Leonard did benefit from their relationship, and learned from it and so did Penny, and it would mean that the factors of their characters that don’t match made sense (his niceness and her hardness). By this stage they don’t look like two characters who should be together to me, and they can move on.

Maybe bring back Leonard’s ex the doctor, or Sheldon’s assistant, or even just introduce a new character into the mix. Have them help him realize he does deserve better and break it off.

It won’t happen. They’ll probably stick together, and get hitched, and Penny will get her big break and it’ll suck.

I say, break them up, have them move on and end it with them on friendly terms having been part of the conspiracy to whack Sheldon.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


One Comment on “TV Review: Time to shoot Lenny in the head”

  1. For a while I loved the Big Bang Theory, but lately I’ve just gotten so sick of it. You raise some good points about what they’ve done with Penny, but Leonard himself has pretty much sunk to jerk ass territory to the other guys, Raj went from being dorky and fun to pretty much a complete asshole (though that might be because he drinks all the time to talk to people).

    Too be honest, about the only characters who have come out with any humanity are Howard, Bernadette, and Amy. Sheldon get’s a pass from me because I can relate. Just being told you’re being an ass and why doesn’t always allow you to be able to fix it, especially when one has the mental…issues someone like Sheldon does (I think he’s borderline autistic/asbergers). And Sheldon at least has been consistent. He treats everyone the same as he always has, and at least tries to be a good host and friend.

    I think the moment it really changed for me was during the arctic trip, where Leonard spearheaded the “prank” that wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in academic grants, months of research, and Sheldon’s theories and reputation, all because he and the others though Sheldon was being a prick…with no evidence that Sheldon had been any different than he normally was. Honestly, all L, H, and R should have been fired and brought up on disciplinary action for that, but the writers decided to make it about teaching Sheldon a lesson. After that, everything was down hill for me because it showed them they could do anything and get away with it, so they did.

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