Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Big Bang Theory: “The Friendship Contraction”

Illustration for article titled The Big Bang Theory: “The Friendship Contraction”

It’s about time everyone stopped putting up with Sheldon’s bullshit, and The Big Bang Theory has one of its strongest episodes of the season when Leonard decides to re-evaluate his friendship with his roommate. After Sheldon wakes Leonard up in the middle of the night for yet another Emergency Preparation Drill, Leonard invokes Clause 209 of the Roommate Code, suspending their friendship and stripping the Code down to its bare essentials of rent and utility payment and a casual greeting of “hey” upon entering the apartment. Leonard’s apathy towards Sheldon spreads to the rest of the group, and soon. even Amy is refusing to offer Sheldon a helping hand, forcing him to either re-evaluate the way he treats other people or, y’know, fake a power outage to make his friends like him again.

First off, why doesn’t Leonard have a lock on his door? They’re very easy to install, I’ve done it myself, and I have no home improvement skills. Sheldon barges into his room so often that Leonard has no one to blame at this point but himself. That said, Sheldon is a real asshole, and I would resort to physical violence if someone chose to wake me up in the middle of the night to run fake catastrophe drills. I had a reputation of clawing at whoever tried to wake me up early as a child, and I’m sure I still would if my roommate ever decided to blast a cell phone alarm above my bed.

It’s easier to accept Sheldon’s selfish behavior as a viewer when the characters around him refuse to put up with it; Jim Parsons’ obnoxiousness can be appreciated when you don’t have to sympathize with the character. For instance, as a regular user of public transportation, I enjoyed Sheldon’s description of his bus experience: “I would’ve been here sooner, but the bus kept stopping for people to get on it.” Leonard is willing to reinstate their friendship if Sheldon admits that he’s a 30-year-old man that can’t take of himself, but Sheldon’s pride won’t let him, and he causes a power blackout instead.

During the blackout, Leonard decides to hang out with Penny, drinking wine and popping bubble wrap while Sheldon makes s’mores for himself, part of his wounded child routine that ultimately wins Leonard back. When Sheldon interrupts their makeout session, Leonard ultimately falls for the same trick that he criticizes Penny for being vulnerable to. Penny sees Sheldon’s desperation and sympathizes, but Leonard reminds her, “Sometimes crazy looks like sad so it can suck you back in.” That’s also what children do when they throw a crying fit to get what they want.

The more they talk about it, the guiltier Leonard feels, and he ends up going back across the hall and reconciling with Sheldon, with the two of them creating Leonard’s Day, one day of the year when Leonard is shown appreciation for all his contributions to Sheldon’s life. It’s a completely meaningless gesture, and Sheldon is the winner (again), but maybe Sheldon has learned something from it all. Experience says he probably hasn’t, and next week will be more of the same, but at least Leonard’s small taste of freedom churns out some clever dialogue and a nice change in the tired roommate dynamic.

Finally, in the B-plot, Howard is still potentially going to space, and this episode has him teaming up with (surprise!) Raj in a subplot about what his nickname is going to be when he becomes an astronaut. It’s a flimsy story, with a signature poop joke—Raj’s nickname is “Brown Dynamite”—and not much else. Howard’s nickname ends up being “Froot Loops.” That’s all.


Stray observations:

  • Can we get an entire episode of the Big Bang Theory gang reacting to the “Before Watchmen” news? That’s some sweet corporate synergy that I wouldn’t mind watching.
  • Sheldon is wearing a sweet Blackhawks shirt, although he should have worn it a few months ago when the comic wasn’t getting cancelled.
  • I predict the furthest Howard will get to space is training, if he even gets that far.
  • In “Raj is totally gay” developments: his major contributions to the episode are Elton John and George Michael references, in addition to the recurring “Brown Dynamite” joke.
  • Raj: “Why do you put six sugars in your coffee?” Leonard: “Because the cafeteria doesn’t offer little packets of methamphetamine.”
  • The girls don’t do much this episode, although Amy does deliver one fantastic line: “I’ve got a lab full of alcoholic monkeys, and tomorrow is the day we switch ‘em to O’Doul’s.”