Normally I steer well clear of anything that might spoil a show for the reader, but for this review, I’ve broken that rule. If you haven’t seen The Proposal Proposal, you may want to do so before reading this.
The very first episode I saw of The Big Bang Theory was episode twelve from season two, The Killer Robot Instability and I came away thinking Leonard and Penny were brother and sister. I still wonder if the series wouldn’t have worked better that way.
I went back and watched from the beginning of the first season and soon knew better, Leonard and Penny didn’t share DNA. In fact, the series goal laid out in the first episode was that Leonard wanted a relationship with Penny. And by the end of season eight, we all knew he’d succeeded. They were on their way to the altar in Vegas. The series could have ended there. Maybe it should have ended there, because here we are at the beginning of season eleven and the only character from season one who still struggles with opposite-sex relationships is Raj. Poor Raj.
Leonard has everything he wanted. Seemingly, so does Penny. Howard is miles from the geeky kid Penny punched for trying to kiss her, and Sheldon? Well, let’s look at him for a moment.
Judging by Sheldon’s monologue in The Proposal Proposal in which he explains things to Amy, he now knows his limitations. He also knows he needs her help to overcome them. He wants to fit into society… or at least into Amy’s world. This I got reading between the lines and it occurred to me that Sheldon grasps social mores as well now as any other 40-year-old I’ve met. The geeks are gone or at least watered down to a point where they’re hardly recognizable as geeks. These are no longer sheltered-and-bullied boys trying to get along in a world they barely understand. These are desperate house-husbands.
No, this show should have ended on the last episode of season eight. Forget the season arc, forget the cliffhanger where we don’t know if Leonard is going to blow it one last time. Just cut to the wedding—the ultimate expression of Leonard reaching his series goal as laid out in the first episode of season one—and walk away. This is no longer a geek sitcom; it’s a soap opera.
What might this series have been like if Leonard and Penny were brother and sister? Leonard would have been charged by their parents to keep an eye on her, to keep her out of trouble, and he would have enlisted his geek buddies to help. Imagine some of the on-the-spot inventions these guys might have dreamed up to protect Penny from herself, from guys who just want to bed her, or from Hollywood types who want to exploit her… and maybe bed her as well. Imagine the trouble they would have got into by hacking into the servers of a major studio (that would have been timely a few years ago) to destroy an email message and protect Penny’s career. These favorite geeks would have had their hands so full, they never would have found time for computer dating let along getting married and having kids. As they hit their late thirties, they’d still get together for weekend-long gaming sessions and to trip over their tongues around women.
And Penny would have been like a den mother to them all. Yes, it might have been uncomfortable watching all that sadness, but at least we’d still recognize the characters after eleven years. I don’t know who these people are any more. I’m bored. I want my geeks back!
Maybe Sheldon could wake up and the last nine seasons were a dream! Yeah, that’s the ticket!