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The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is a comedy about two physicists Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper who live and work together in Pasadena, California. They live a comfortable geeky existence until attractive wannabe actress Penny moves in across the hall. CBS 2007-???

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Episode 8 - The Grasshopper Experiment

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Rajesh's parents set him up on a blind date and he fears he won’t be able to talk to her. Penny needs to practise her bar tending skills for work and once Rajesh drinks he can talk to her. On the date with Lalita he is an obnoxious drunk and she is all too happy to leave with Sheldon when he takes an interest in her.

The Good: It’s nice to get a story about Rajesh. The scene where he finally talks to Penny is fun and it seems like a novel solution to his blind date problem.

Sheldon is his usual funny self throughout. I particularly enjoyed his way of “disguising” his desire for a diet coke by ordering a virgin Cuba Libre (Rum and Coke). The end of the show where Penny spikes his drink and he sings songs from Fiddler on the Roof is funny as well. The writers had to come up with a plausible way for him to be at all interested in Rajesh’s date and her resemblance to Princess Panchali from a childhood story is very clever. His interest in her therefore comes across as innocent and believable.

The Bad: Rajesh’s character is pretty clear. He came from a traditional Indian background but is now enjoying the freedom and independence that life in the States has provided him. However in focussing the episode on him, that is not the story which gets told. Instead of him being happy that Lalita is not interested in getting married either, he becomes obnoxiously drunk. There is not much comedy in him saying all the wrong things to her and in the end the story becomes about Sheldon and not him. It’s a wasted opportunity and makes the episode feel a bit irrelevant.

However the other problem with this and some may see it as much worse is the racial edge to much of the humour. It is inevitable that Rajesh’s Indian ethnicity will be a source of humour in the show. However there are a number of questionable moments in this episode. His stereotypical meddling parents make remarks about monsoon season, samosas and watching Doogie Howser. It’s a bit of a mess whether they are meant to be American Pie style embarrassing parents or just old fashioned. Then there is Howard doing an Indian accent. It is a good performance and to many will be pretty funny but it would not be difficult to take offence to it. There are also remarks about an elephant being involved in a wedding procession and white people all looking alike which just seem unnecessary. I wouldn’t say anything crossed the line exactly but the episode walks uncomfortably close to it at times.

Comic Highlight: Tipsy Rajesh begins opening up to Penny “ever since I was a little boy, my father wanted me to be a gynaecologist like him. How can I be a gynaecologist? I can barely look a woman in the eye.”

In Conclusion: I don’t think the major problem here is the racial humour. The problem is that the episode doesn’t develop Rajesh’s character well. He gets drunk and ruins a date which he didn’t really want to be on. It doesn’t say much about him and isn’t funny enough to compensate for the lack of progress in the plot.

('DiggThis)

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