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The Big Bang Theory Review/Recap: "The Hofstadter Insufficiency" and "The Deception Verification"

Maya Zach ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff

The Big Bang Theory premiered its seventh season this Thursday with two episodes. The first episode, “The Hofstadter Insufficiency”, started the night off strong, but the season already began to falter with its second episode, “The Deception Verification”.

“The Hofstadter Insufficiency” has the witty dialogue and character interaction that is reminiscent of the earlier seasons, while “The Deception Verification” has the (slightly) uncomfortable to watch exchanges and reliance on emasculation that are more common in the later seasons.

The first episode included many quotable lines, such as Sheldon (Jim Parsons) saying “I want you to be happy, but not enough to do anything about it,” and (completely un-ironically) “Everything I say is true.” The second one had more current pop-culture references, such as explaining the plot of The Superior Spider-Man and giving a nod to Kickstarter.

Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons in the season seven premiere of The Big Bang Theory "The Hofstadter Insufficiency." Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.
Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons in the season seven premiere of The Big Bang Theory “The Hofstadter Insufficiency.” Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

While Leonard (Johnny Galecki)  is on his expedition at sea, Sheldon and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) have the opportunity to bond, mainly over how much they miss Leonard. Though Sheldon won’t admit to missing his best friend, he is practically useless without him and is eager to call him when Penny suggests it. When they find out that Leonard is partying and doesn’t seem to miss them, they are disappointed and aggravated. To spite him, they decide to become closer. Penny tells Sheldon a secret: she appeared topless in a horror movie about a killer gorilla, Serial Apist. But of course, Howard (Simon Helberg)–in his super creepy phase–already found it. Sheldon reveals his true feelings about YouTube’s interface change. Penny assumes that this is a joke, but that was Sheldon truly opening up to her. They would be happy to know that Leonard does miss them (Well, at least Penny) and even shows his the crew the clip from Serial Apist that she appears in.

Though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, Penny and Sheldon’s relationship has actually evolved significantly from the first season. In the third season, Sheldon tried to train her like a dog, but he is now willing to open up to her about something that is truly important to him. When these two are left alone in a room together, the dialogue is fantastic; they each make fun of each other without the other realizing it, Penny about Sheldon’s lack of social skills and Sheldon about Penny’s lack of scientific knowledge. Though they do this with the other characters around, it never feels as authentic. Any scene with Sheldon and Penny is a plus, and “The Hofstadster Insufficiency” is ripe with these.

Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik in the season seven premiere of The Big Bang Theory "The Hofstadter Insufficiency." Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.
Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik in the season seven premiere of The Big Bang Theory “The Hofstadter Insufficiency.” Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

Sheldon and Penny have the opportunity to spend time together because Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) are at a science conference. When they receive drinks from a pair of men, Bernadette suggests that Amy talk to one of the guys. Amy is furious at the insinuation that Sheldon is not good enough for her. The two are about to go to bed angry until they start gossiping about the men. Amy says that she wanted the short, funny guy and Bernadette wanted to date the tall, nerdy-looking guy. Once they realize that they described the other’s boyfriend/husband they freak out and turn off the lights.

Meanwhile, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is trying to get over his ex-girlfriend Lucy (Kate Micucci), which he hopes shouldn’t be too hard since he can now speak to women without the consumption of alcohol. However, his first interaction at a university mixer was an incredibly awkward failure. He then makes an awful joke to Ms. Davis, the Human Resources Administrator, about her divorce. When he goes to apologize, he ends up talking to her the rest of the night and thinks that they “had a moment,” when they clearly didn’t.

In “The Deception Verification”, Leonard arrives home early from his trip to spend a few uninterrupted days with Penny. After Sheldon buys Leonard a $200 water gun (that is clearly not worth more than $25), he pays Penny a visit. He believes that Penny is cheating on Leonard and shares these suspicions with Amy. She thinks that claim is egregious until she finds out that Penny took the effort to throw out her takeout containers. When Sheldon barges in, he’s furious that Leonard kept his arrival a secret, though it is slightly quelled by the fact that Leonard brought him a sailor’s hat. Sheldon is set on the idea that everything that Leonard has ever told him is a lie and no longer trusts him.

Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Deception Verification." Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.
Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Deception Verification.” Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

Howard is overly concerned with his weight and is acting incredibly effeminately, exactly how women who are PMS-ing are portrayed. The estrogen cream that he was rubbing on his mother affected him very strongly. He later asks Raj if his boobs are getting bigger–a side effect of estrogen. They then proceed to shimmy and shake to try to determine whether it’s true. This is followed up with the two of them feeling each other up for a solid minute. Bernadette walks in, watches for twenty seconds, rolls her eyes, and walks out, clearly questioning why she married Howard (and Raj, since they are a package deal).

Howard–still under the effects of the estrogen–screams at Leonard and Sheldon when they are fighting. They are best friends and they clearly both missed each other, so they need to grow up and get over their argument. Neither tries to disagree with Howard’s scarily accurate assessment.

In the more recent seasons of The Big Bang Theory, the theme of the show has shifted toward relationships. Though there are still science and comic book jokes, the nerdiness that was once so prevalent in the show has seemed to slip. “The Deception Verification” had an amusing scene in the comic book store that should have thrilled comic fans, but it was easily overshadowed by Howard’s feminine arc. The writers were probably trying to poke fun at the stereotype of a PMS-ing woman, but it wasn’t conveyed well. It was over-the-top and seemed to go too far. Howard and Raj definitely did not need to go on for over a minute of trying to decipher whether Howard’s boobs grew. It was a funny joke that was way too long.

If the seventh season of The Big Bang Theory follows the tone of the premiere it could be a truly great season. However, if it follows the trend of the more recent seasons, expect a focus on relationships with a hint of nerdiness and snark.

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