Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The big news out of the latest The Big Bang Theory episode was Bernadette potentially going into labor (if so, it better happen fast—there’s only one new episode left in 2016!), but the more interesting aspect was the subtle way the show flipped gender stereotypes.
In “The Property Division Collision,” Leonard and Sheldon attempt to divide their possessions now that it’s clear Sheldon won’t be moving back in with Leonard. The whole thing is still a bit odd given that it’d be easier for Sheldon just to go back to his apartment and Penny to go back to hers, but this is a sitcom and conflict makes for better storytelling. It also provides an entrance for Christopher Lloyd’s down-on-his-luck Theodore, but that’s a story for another day.
By having Sheldon decide he wants to move his valuables over to Penny’s apartment (which he’s now living in with Amy), the Big Bang Theory writers gave us Sheldon at his least likable. He was downright selfish, annoying, and mean-spirited to Leonard, who tried to take the high road until he completely reached his limit. By then, when Sheldon said Leonard could pick one item of his choosing, Leonard chose the one thing that would irk Sheldon the most: the official apartment flag. In retaliation, Sheldon then changed the Wi-Fi password on Leonard, even though Sheldon doesn’t live there anymore. And throughout the entire thing, Penny and Amy watched the drama unfold as if the Cubs and Indians were still playing in the World Series.
The interesting thing is, when was the last time you saw two guys in a movie or TV show go at it over their personal belongings? And the ladies, meanwhile, don’t care about any of it. It’s safe to say Monica Geller on Friends would have had PDFs and spreadsheets drawn up. Granted, we’ve never had two of the Big Bang Theory‘s female characters really live with each other—but even in Penny, Amy, and Bernadette’s weakest moments, it’s doubtful they would have let it go this far. Even if they did, they would have realized their behavior on their own without the help of a man (Theodore) pointing out the reasons why.
And then, in the evening’s secondary storyline, Stuart and Raj fought over Bernadette and her unborn baby: which one was going to build the crib, run errands, take Bernadette to her doctor appointments, etc. Even Peter, Michael, and Jack from Three Men and a Baby were never this gung ho. The storyline was reminiscent of Bridesmaids, when Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne’s characters attempted just about everything and anything to show who was more loyal and dear to the bride. And then there was Howard—the actual father—who was as unmotivated as you could get. (Yeah, Bernadette, don’t count on him to help with those middle-of-the-night feedings.)
All of this is not to say that men have never fought over their female friends or male roommates have never ruined friendships over material things. Hardly. But it is worth pointing out that it’s refreshing to see these stories not be about which female character really owned the gravy boat or whether Amy or Penny would be the godmother. As ridiculous as Sheldon and Howard were in last night’s episode, it was pretty damn nice to finally see the tables turned.
The Big Bang Theory returns with an all-new episode on Thursday, December 15.
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