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The Big Bang Theory: the sexual politics of the socially challenged in “The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition”

20 Nov

Amy Farrah Fowler: newfound object of desire

Sheldon Leonard (Jim Parsons) is what I call… socially retarded.  Yes, I know that is a politically incorrect word to use but challenged honestly doesn’t even begin to cover his problems when interacting with others.  Since the introduction of Amy Farrah Folwer (Mayim Bialik), his issues have only expanded since now Sheldon has entered, well, pre-pubescence.  It is a crap shoot whether or not he will ever become an even halfway competent sexual being but I have a feeling Amy Farrah Fowler can push Sheldon’s buttons beyond anything his vast little brain can comprehend.  And I look forward to seeing the sexual domination of Sheldon by Amy even though I’m not quite sure if that is truly a conquest worth bragging about for any woman.

What I always find amazing is how confident men are once they think they have a woman hooked.  It tends to be this smugness that usually leads to their loss of their love object at some point, then their subjection, I mean, their compromise and capitulation to having a relationship with rules and clearly defined expectations;  in this case, outlined by Sheldon’s ridiculous relationship agreement.  Of course, if men could be that clear with what they expected from us up front, I believe there would be less divorce.  Because there would be less marriage once the women understood they are marrying children.  Now before every male gets his penis in an uproar, I’m just calling it like I see it.   Because it seems to be the norm for the male to put out as little emotional effort as possible while at the same time expecting the female to shower him with love, attention and kindness mixed with the perfect measure of indifference because as every female has probably learned, if you don’t throw some indifference into the mix, you are essentially a doormat.  Worse, you are taken for granted.  Perhaps one of the best moments in the episode is when Howard (Simon Helberg) muses, “… are you telling me that Sheldon’s patented blend of condescension and no sex isn’t enough to hold a woman?”

It appears Howard’s rhetorical question does indeed have an answer and that is NO.  Even apparently, Amy Farrah Fowler has her limits and she can only tolerate disappointment for a year.  It’s a moment every woman who has been in love with someone who toys with her dreads:  the moment when someone else is interested in you.  It’s a moment of disappointment that your object of affection can’t get it together to step up to the plate but at the same time, it’s a glimmer of hope, that perhaps it isn’t you that is flawed after all.  So, when Amy Farrah Fowler accepts the date with Stuart (Kevin Sussman) it is an opportunity to see what it is like to go out with someone who appreciates her and isn’t afraid to show it.  Although Stuart may not be the love of Amy Farrah Fowler’s life, she is learning. albeit late, that sometimes it’s a nice change not to feel taken for granted.  That can be a dangerous thing for her love object though, because then the female becomes aware of the power she didn’t realize she had and once she does comprehend this newfound knowledge, she can use it any way she sees fit.  Of course, in terms of karma one is better off using it for good, not evil.  The evil will come back and bite you in the ass every time.

Although Amy Farrah Fowler does not realize it, she is driving Sheldon mad with jealousy.  And watching Sheldon go to Penny‘s (Kaley Cuoco) and ask her out on a date is a good lesson for all of us females to learn.  Because suddenly we see that any males we might care about who do not seem capable of taking action, can indeed take action and drastic action at that if the female in question does not matter to him emotionally.  We have never see Sheldon ask someone out on a date through the show and suddenly, he goes so far out of his league even Penny is shocked.  Penny realizes this is Sheldon’s retaliation by trying to make Amy Farrah Fowler jealous by asking her (Amy Farrah Fowler’s bestie) out.  The strange self-confidence men have when the women mean nothing to them and they are happy to use women is something I will always find baffling.  It isn’t that the men will use the women.  Women will use men just as much.  It’s the strange self confidence that is baffling because with a woman, if she doesn’t have self confidence with men then that is basically true across the board.  It doesn’t matter how hot or nerdy he is.  The most interesting aspect of this is that Sheldon, someone who doesn’t seem to have a sex drive, even unconsciously understands how to hit your love object where it might hurt the most, going out with her best friend and illustrating not only a double betrayal but exposing how badly he is secretly hurt.

I will give Sheldon credit though.  At least he is smart enough to listen to Penny and not play games but go directly to Amy and talk.  On her date.  Even that is preferable to a very long drawn out sequence of game playing which for Sheldon, seems like it might have been preferable for at least a season if not two.  No, Sheldon shocks all of us and does something actually as grown up as it can be for him.  He goes to Amy Farrah Fowler on her date because he actually cannot bear the thought of her being in a movie theater with another man.  And it is at that moment that Amy Farrah Fowler finally moves from being an inexperienced girly woman to becoming a full-fledged woman.  She now sees that Sheldon cares.  Something she has been waiting to see and hear for over a year.  And she won’t allow him to ask her to become his girlfriend in a roundabout indirect way (dear men:  it is insulting when you insist on being indirect as THAT is a form of game playing and power control, implying that we are not good enough to warrant direct interaction).  As soon as he starts with his hedging, she cozies up to poor Stuart who has unfortunately become a pawn.  It only takes Sheldon seeing Amy Farrah Folwer move a few inches away from him and closer to Stuart that sends him over the edge and directly as her what she has been waiting to hear for so long:  will she be his girlfriend?  She unhesitatingly says yes.  Naively.  Because those of us who know emotionally withholding men know she has gotten a bad deal already.  Oh but Amy will learn sooner than she thinks.

No sooner does Amy arrive home from her date but she finds Sheldon has broken into her apartment and is waiting for her, not the actions of a healthy relationship but one that indicates Sheldon might just stalk Amy now.  He already started with watching Stuart on Facebook.  His possessiveness will most likely only expand as the season continues.  Because now that Sheldon has exposed his feelings (the the extent he is capable of which isn’t much) and now that he knows other men can find Amy Farrah Fowler attractive, there will always be the implied sexual threat of another man.  What will be interesting is to see if Amy Farrah Fowler can figure out that she can dangle this in front of Sheldon when he gets out of line, or rather, doesn’t get in line.  Or even hold her hand.  Because the non-sexual relationship will implode soon enough.  Amy has what she wants, or at least the first installment of Sheldon.  But she is going to soon violate terms of that relationship agreement as she discovers she is acting more like Sheldon’s mother and care-giver than girlfriend.  Amy’s compromise – what she is willing to give up in order to get Sheldon as a boyfriend, the emotional and sexual aspect of the relationship, will create untold trauma for both.  Currently, she substitutes closeness with female friends.  But very soon this will be emotionally unsatisfying and will blow up in Sheldon’s face.  Because Amy is horny.  And in all fairness, she has been waiting long enough.  Poor Sheldon.  He’s going to be in for quite a ride when Amy violates the relationship agreement and he learns that he cannot control female desires.  I have a feeling this season will be a bumpy ride for the new couple.  But maybe with a bit of behavioral therapy, Sheldon can get past being and acting like a child emotionally and start to be a man.  I, for one, think it’s time.

Person of Interest review: It could be so much more compelling

26 Oct

I’ve been hesitating to write about Person of Interest since its Fall premiere a month ago.  I like the premise of the show:  Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson), a mysterious billionaire, created a computer program that can predict the identity of people connected to violent crimes that will take place in the future.  The problem with the program is that it can’t identify whether the person will be the victim or the criminal.  Mr. Finch hires John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former Green Beret and CIA officer,  and in the pilot, a homeless man who is attacked on the subway, who is presumed dead, to help stop the crimes from taking place.

J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan bring a great deal of moody atmosphere to the show but something is missing.  I believe that is the point though.  Both Finch and Reese are shells of their former selves.  As we progress into the narrative of the show we get flashbacks (thankfully not very Lost-like), mostly of Reese and we witness the love that he lost.  While this should be poignant, for some reason, it is falling flat.  And while I can appreciate the creators wanting Finch to be super mysterious, it would be nice to start getting more of his past introduced into the storyline each week.  I can tell you that every week I debate whether or not I plan on watching this show.  Maybe Reese needs bring a bit more life into his performance.  I understand he’s gone through a great tragedy and he did have a breakdown but I’ve got to say, it’s kind of depressing to watch this show.  And I honestly don’t need any help from television to get depressed.  I can do a great job of that on my own!  So, CBS executives, Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams, I realize this is supposed to be a thriller, but could it please be a bit more upbeat?  Could there be some hope?  Because at the end of every episode, even when Reese does his amazing capturing and disabling of criminals, I feel like some of these moments have a bit of humor in them but I can’t laugh.  I believe it’s the tone.  Maybe what I’m trying to say is there any way it could be just a tiny bit… lighter?  I know it’s not Castle but it isn’t Inspector Morse either.  And even Inspector Morse had a laugh sometimes.

The Big Bang Theory is Back and Better than ever: Season 5 Premiere “The Skank Reflex Analysis”

26 Sep

If there is one show I genuinely missed this summer, it was The Big Bang Theory.  I had shunned sitcoms for a few years and a friend of mine sat me down and started me watching a marathon.  I remember not being too sure about it the first time but after that, I grew to appreciate it and by the end of the marathon I was hooked.  Then I had to catch up on two seasons, which seems to be the story of my life with television shows.  It’s become my favorite US sitcom.  There’s something reassuring about watching Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) navigate their way around a goony version of Los Angeles I never knew existed.  And although Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is an aspiring actress, the show just doesn’t feel like the Los Angeles I know.  Maybe that’s because to trek to Pasadena from West Los Angeles was like taking a day trip to Santa Barbara if you hit traffic at the wrong time.  But the characters are definitely as dysfunctional as most individuals living in Los Angeles.

As most people probably know, sitcoms used to be family-centered.  They still are, only the family is the group of people who happen to be in your sitcom world.  In this case, Sheldon, Leonard and Penny make up the central family unit with Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj/Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and the newest addition, Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) as the close relations.  Like any family, this one is completely dysfunctional.  And if you aren’t in a dysfunctional family, I almost feel sorry for you.  Last season was a bit more hit and miss and I was worried.  Some shows were great and others just made me wonder what the writers were thinking.  They seemed to be all over the place and not focusing on the core fears and desires of the characters.

The main fear and desire that comes from everyone but Sheldon is the need to be loved and in a relationship in this show.  It isn’t as if Sheldon doesn’t need that, he just processes his needs differently.  Honestly, I would like to see Penny and Sheldon end up together.  I believe they are the secret couple that essentially exists in the ether.  Over the years it is Penny that Sheldon usually turns to for comfort.  Certainly before Amy Farrah Fowler came onto the scene.  While Howard and Bernadette work as a couple, I never truly bought Leonard and Penny.  In fact, sometimes I think Leonard and Koothrappali should just get together since he (Koothrappali) has such a bi-sexual slant.  And I know all the homosexual jokes run between him and Howard as a couple (certainly in the following episode, “The Infestation Hypothesis,” with the simulated internet kissing contraption that made me laugh so hard I’m sure people heard me outside); however, for all the action Leonard gets, somehow he seems more asexual to me than Sheldon.  Maybe Amy Farrah Fowler would be better served with Leonard.  The problem with the coupling between Amy and Sheldon is that they are far too alike.  And Amy craves excitement and seems that she might even be sexually adventurous given the opportunity.  Sheldon, on the other hand, likes to play it safe unless he has calculated all the variables for risk.  Leonard, although different from Amy, also likes to be sexually adventurous and I believe they could function as a couple.  She’s not glamourous enough for him but it’s nothing a trip to Sephora and a few clothing stores couldn’t improve on.  Sheldon and Penny would be a fascinating couple.  An introvert and an extrovert.  I personally would like to see Sheldon stop being quite so asexual and move into adolescence.  And let’s be honest, this show thrives on sexual activity.

In this particular episode, “The Skank Reflex Analysis” we watch Penny deal with the fallout of her coupling with Raj.  What is particularly disturbing to me (and don’t forget I love this show) is that Penny is essentially called a slut by not only her close friend, Amy, but admits it herself.  Sure Penny sleeps around.  Guess what?  Adult women do that sometimes.  What bothers me is they are still considered sluts if they do and more disturbingly, they consider themselves sluts.  Conversely, Raj admits to her they didn’t end up having sex but she goes ahead and lets everyone believe they did to save his reputation, because apparently, in 2011, a man is still studly and not slutty if he gets laid and he’s drunk.  This double-standard, I was hoping, would be gone at this point in the game of cultural coitus but I guess not.  And thanks to CBS and Chuck Lorre, there are whole new generations stereotyping women as sluts.  And acting like it’s fine.  Now I’m not arguing that I think Penny shouldn’t have fun.  Nope, I think she should do who she wants when she wants but I think it is up to those who create culture to stop enforcing outdated stereotypes and come up with a term that explains it can be empowering for a woman to behave just like a man.  I know maybe some people haven’t looked but we aren’t in the 1950s or 1960s anymore.  But wait!  I think we might be, considering the two embarrassing shows that embrace the old patriarchal guard, The Playboy Club and Pan Am.  Thanks, Mad Men.  I suppose being progressive is still not synonymous with American network television.  Which is a shame.  I hope they get their act together soon.

Overall, the season premiere was funny and entertaining.  Raj is dealing with the fallout of his encounter with Penny, her rejection of him and Bernadette’s wrath for his dirty poems about her which have made Howard paranoid.  And watching Sheldon as the Captain of the Paintball team and his self-sacrifice scene  is what this show does best.  Amy Farrah Fowler’s excitement over having Penny as a sleep-over guest is, I would argue, one of the best elements in the show, reminding everyone that even if they were insecure as kids and things sucked, at some point in your adult life, they do get better.  A good message for everyone.

Two and a Half Men: when hormones go bad

20 Sep

I’m feeling very conflicted about whether or not I want to watch this season’s premiere of Two and a Half Men. Because, truth be told, I really don’t watch the show that often. I tend to end up watching it when I visit my dad and step-mother and I have seen so many episodes on those visits that I guess I don’t feel the need to watch constantly. And the thing is, maybe a lot of people think Charlie Sheen is an asshole, but I don’t think he is. Okay, I know he has personal issues but I’ve worked with him in the past and while it was true he lives an unconventional life, he was always kind and respectful to me. Which is more than I can say for Malcolm McDowell. But that’s another story.

I’ve held my tongue during Charlie’s meltdown because I figure, everyone is entitled to at least one nervous breakdown in a lifetime. And until you’ve worked in Hollywood, you can judge all you want but life in Hollywood is never quite real. Working in the film or television business is almost like being tempted by the devil and you don’t always know yourself until you have been faced with strange situations like oh say… people running drugs through messenger services or little black books being hidden in places you would never imagine or the very stupid things studio heads do then try to cover them up. Sometimes it is almost like watching a TV show until you realize it is your life. So, I believe in second chances and I hope Charlie Sheen learns a couple of things along the way: first, he really needs to not hit women, that isn’t okay and if he’s angry, until he learns to deal with his rage, he could do what I did and break lots of phones and answering machines. Only walls get hurt. Well, the phones and answering machines as well and as soon as you get sick of having to replace them, you learn that maybe you should think before you loose your temper.  And, I’m truly hoping he realizes that you can only screw so many women and it’s not going to make you feel immortal or have better self-esteem. The only way you feel better about yourself is to figure out why you are feeling so crappy in the first place and discover, with the help of a licensed professional or at least a good personal coach, how you might help yourself in healthy ways. So Charlie, perhaps if you attempt to keep it in your pants and not hit women and focus on what might make you happy, you will have a happier success next time.  I’m routing for him more than I’m routing for the show because quite honestly, after hearing about Chuck Lorre trying to get him taken off the Emmy’s last night, I lost a whole lot of respect for the man who makes my favorite sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.  And just because Ashton Kutcher might have it together a bit more than Charlie Sheen, I find it bad form to flaunt it.  Who knows what may happen with him.  Hollywood’s a funny place.  One minute you’re on top, the next you mean less than shit being flushed down the toilet.  So, it’s always good to be grateful and not gloat while you’re doing good on your ride because you might need help once you get derailed.  That’s almost a guarantee in show business.  But that’s just my opinion.

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