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

The Big Bang Theory: “The Rothman Disintegration”

Illustration for article titled The Big Bang Theory: “The Rothman Disintegration”

The Big Bang Theory is on a bit of streak here in the later half of the season, with another strong episode that focuses on what the show does best: exploiting nerd stereotypes and putting the women in a room together. The main storyline concerning Sheldon fighting office nemesis Kripke for a new office doesn’t take off until it becomes about how horrible the two are at sports, but while that’s warming up, the ladies’ story is firing on all cylinders from the start.

Amy gets Penny a present for transforming her from an awkward wallflower into a hipster party girl with a boyfriend and a posse: a $3,000 painting of the two of them looking awkward as hell. Bernadette and Penny’s facial expressions throughout the episode are priceless, and Bernadette gets some fantastic zingers in at the pair’s expense. When Penny wonders if it will break Amy’s heart to tell her the truth, Bernadette tells her, “Look at that face. That enormous, unsettling, crazy face.” When Penny asks herself if she could maybe grow to like the painting, Bernadette responds, “It depends. Do you like pictures of yourself where you look like a man?”

When Amy finds out that Penny doesn’t like the painting, she has a breakdown as she comes to terms with the true nature of her relationship with Penny. Penny’s dismissal of her gift proves to Amy what she’s feared: that Penny doesn’t like her as much as she likes Penny. The imbalance of their friendship is obvious to us as viewers, but it’s heartbreaking to see it actually sink in for the character. Mayim Bialik really nails the emotion in that scene, and it’s easy to see why Penny would crack and make up the lie about Bernadette being jealous of the painting.

Between the rectal exam humor and rock-paper-scissor-lizard-Spock double reprise, I all but lost hope in Sheldon’s story before the guys realize the only way to decide who gets the office is by challenging both men to what they’re worst at: sports. The action switches to the basketball court, where Jim Parsons and John Ross Bowie show off some outstanding physical comedy skills as they try to figure what to do with the orange sphere in their hands.

Sheldon runs down the court, flails a bit as he tries to do a fake-out, and then chucks the ball at the back wall. Kripke just walks with the ball until he runs out of space, and then stands at the wall perplexed. The two can’t play one-on-one, so whoever makes a basket gets the office. They can’t do that either, and after 45 minutes, Leonard doesn’t think it’s funny anymore. He is wrong. It really never stops being funny. I rewound it a couple times. They decide that whoever can bounce a ball the highest gets the office, and Sheldon proves the victor, although he doesn't quite get what he expected.

When Sheldon finally moves in to the office, he learns that he should be careful what he wishes for. The air vent is really intense in that room, the mockingbirds are out of tune with the wind chimes outside his window, and there’s a giant hole in the wall that he gets his head stuck in. Oh, Sheldon. That crazy kid. Leonard decides to leave him there, and it’s always nice to see Sheldon get his own share of the suffering.


Stray observations:

  • Sheldon’s hints for giving yourself a rectal exam: cut your nails and use butter. That’s horrible in so many ways.
  • Raj orders a Harry Potter wand on Ebay, and gets sent a stick with a limited edition number carved into it. What an idiot.
  • I would like to see that picture of Bernadette and Howard’s mom getting their hair corn-rowed in Venice Beach.
  • Anyone else love the Mayim Bialik shout-out on SNL this weekend?
  • “You know those terrible things bullies used to do to us? I get it.”
  • “Who’s unsatisfactory in P.E. now?!”
  • “You don’t have to say goodbye to Painting Amy, because she’s never leaving.”
  • “You’re retired!” “I think the word you’re looking for is… ‘invisible.’”