The Big Bang Theory season 6 episode 23 review: The Love Spell Potential

Review Kaci Ferrell 10 May 2013 - 07:35

Kaci's latest disappointed review finds The Big Bang Theory beating the same inaccurate, dull drum about girls and geeks...

This review contains spoilers.

6.23 The Love Spell Potential

On this week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, the girls join in on a game of D&D, Raj and Lucy take a step forward in their relationship, and Sheldon and Amy have a much-needed conversation. 

Oh, Big Bang Theory. Just when I give you credit with a gushy review like last week's, you turn around and fall right back into the same traps — "I've never played D&D with a girl before..." "Girls don't have sex with boys who play D&D" etc etc. Jokes like that aren't funny and more than that, they're just not true. I've played D&D in an all-girl group before. I know hundreds of geeky girls who would love to play with — and date! — geeky boys. This show's geek reality simply does not reflect the actual reality of the geek community and frankly jokes like that just aren't funny to begin with. 

So. With that out of the way, here's your basic rundown of the plot: originally, the girls were headed off to Vegas and the boys were having a D&D game in their absence. However, fate conspires against this and Raj gets called away by Lucy while Amy gets put on a no fly list, leaving the girls to come back to the apartment and play D&D with the guys. 

Raj pushes Lucy to break out of her shyness shell, which upsets her, but then they have a nice moment where he admits that he really likes her and they kiss through a chain link fence. It's cute and quirky in the way that all Raj-and-Lucy things are turning out to be, and I think it's one of those things like Zooey Deschanel — you either love that quirkiness or it's too much for you and you can't tolerate it — so I don't blame any of you who are finding all this to be a bit twee. It works for me, though, and I thought it was a cute storyline that juxtaposes nicely with Sheldon and Amy's storyline in the episode. 

After being called out on the fact that they're not likely to have sex anytime soon, Amy runs out of the room, upset. Sheldon is sent to comfort her and she finally confronts him, asking if they will ever be intimate. He tells her that for him, their relationship is extremely intimate, and while he never really answers her question (didn't he tell Leonard and Penny that he was working on that? Or did I just dream that? If he did, I feel like he could've mentioned that to Amy, too, but continuity has never been this show's' strong suit, so I guess that's asking for too much) but he does offer to have sex with her via their D&D game. Frankly, I think it's a revelation that Sheldon is even willing to... well, for lack of a better term, "talk dirty" to her in that way, so maybe it's more progress than I'm giving it credit for. 

In Sheldon/Amy and Raj/Lucy, you have two very socially awkward couples who are trying, desperately, to find a way to relate to each other and work together. Their neuroses are different, sure, but it's a nice parallel between two couples taking a step forward in emotional intimacy without achieving very much physical intimacy. I seriously doubt it was intentional on the part of the writers, but it's interesting to see two very different takes on sexless intimacy. 

Like a lot of this season, this episode was a mixed bag, but I mostly walked away with negative feelings after the "girls aren't geeks/don't like geeks" round of jokes left a bad taste in my mouth. No thanks, writers. Find a new dead horse to beat.

Read Kaci's review of the previous episode, The Proton Resurgence, here.

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Maybe someone is recycling ideas left over from Season One bull sessions? It's either that, or it's a lowest common denominator move to bring in audiences who might otherwise think it's too nichey for them?

Other than the Sheldon/Amy scene, I thought this was an incredibly lazy episode, revolving around tired and predictable jokes and relying almost entirely on Helberg's impersonation skills. Big Bang at its worst.

Did we all watch a different show? It was actually a good episode - it showed how far Sheldon has come not only with his personal relationship with Amy, but even the group dynamics - he was so comfortable with the extended gang - something he would not have demonstrated in earlier seasons. Including Bernadette, Penny and Amy in that "intimate" a setting - allowing them to see him laughing and enjoying himself. As for girl geeks - yes they do represent them - Leonard's mom, the kinky doctor a couple of seasons ago, Bernadette, Amy, Lesley Winkle and probably more that I'm not recalling at the moment - as for the wordplay between the girls and the guys about girls playing D & D etc - I take that as part of the group's silly exchanges - they're so close now that it's a long running joke between each other. The only part I did NOT like was the Raj / Lucy segment. Twice now he has acted like a selfish a*((^le when Lucy was involved - first when he left all his pals at the comic book store with a dig at calling them losers, then jumping when she texted on a D & D night - that to me was out of character. And unflattering. And Lucy's annoying. It's still a great way to spend a half hour - well, actually an hour or more because it's on several times through the evening in reruns. Just my opinion. I'd watch ten episodes of old shows over one episode of many of the other "comedies" now.

Oh, Kaci, Just when I give you credit with the past few weeks insightful reviews, you turn around and fall right back into the same traps. The only man who objected to girls playing D & D was Sheldon, whose defining characteristic is lacking social skills and slavery to ritual. The guys may joke about men who play D & D never getting laid, but they do so while each is in a functioning relationship. They're making fun of themselves - a healthy trait Kaci (hint, hint.)

No, you didn't imagine Sheldon saying that he was open to an intimate relationship with Amy - but he said that privately to a friend. But admitting the possibility to a friend in private is VERY different than making the same statement to Amy - at that point, it becomes a promise. And in a world of instant hookups, In most cases, the physical is easy, the emotional is hard. It's refreshing to see the reverse true in this case.

Let me quote here what Bill tweeted last night: To pre-but your comments, things Penny believes are things Penny believes. They are not things everyone believes.

What I take of it is that if it came from Penny's mouth, aka the line "Don't worry, sweetie. No one has." That girl grew up in a farm and plays with guns and cows and obviously she was not aware that girls AND boys do play. Why is it that a fictional character's opinion already regarded as a generalization of many?

Because that one joke doesn't exist in a vacuum. This show has made the same joke over and over again since season 1 and in the mouths of virtually every character while simultaneously not representing female geeks outside of one guest appearance from the girl Leonard made out with while he was dating Priya, and they treated her like she was a unicorn. A GIRL? WHO LIKES COMICS? WHAT? HOW IS THAT EVEN A THING?

If it were one joke in one episode, then fine, I could say, "This is just what Penny believes, and she has a limited point of view so it's understandable." But it's not one joke in one episode, and it's not just from that limited point of view. It's Penny walking into the comic book store and Stuart telling her to blink twice if she's there against her will while all the men gape at her and the boys tell her that the men in the store are more scared of her than she is of them. It's the absolute refusal to ever show a geeky woman enjoying comic books or fantasy or sci-fi. It's the ignoring of the very real fact that I and other geeky women do exist, do love those things, do go to conventions, do cosplay not just to look hot or because the boys we're dating are into it but because we genuinely love it and want to express our passion through that medium. We're here, we're real, and the show constantly ignores us and makes jokes about how we don't exist and when they do, it's always a stereotype or with a dig at us (I'm thinking here of Stuart saying he had a girlfriend who liked to cosplay as Wonder Woman, but then he mentioned she was plus-sized and horrible).

I'm not the first person to complain about TBBT's representation of geeks and I won't be the last, but even if I put aside all of that, even if I say it's not offensive and they're not ignoring an entire section of the geek population, there's a reason I called it a dead horse: they've been making the joke for six seasons now and it's not funny anymore. There's a law of diminishing returns in comedy and they've well and truly exhausted it.

The women you mentioned aren't geeks. They're scientists. There's a difference. The only girl geek they've ever really done anything with was the girl Leonard made out with while dating Priya and even then they treated her like she was a unicorn.

Oh - good point. You're right. Maybe they are as rare as a unicorn; I can't think of any girl geeks I know.......hmmm......thanks Kaci; I stand (well, I sit) corrected!

If you can't think of any girl geeks, go on Tumblr and check the tags for any major geeky fandom. I promise you, we're here. We totally want to hang out and play D&D and all the other awesomely fun geeky stuff.

Also, cons are a great place to meet geeky gals (and conversely geeky boys for those of us who are interested that way) so if you've never had a chance to go to one, try to find one local to you and check it out. Even if it's a small local one, it's still a great way to meet other geeks of both genders. Plus cons are super fun and it's nice to hang out with other people who "get" you for a few days. (/con evangelist mode)

Hi. I'm a girl geek. Take a picture, guys, it'll last longer.

I think you miss the point. I believe it was Sheldon who says they never played D&D with a girl. The point is in HIS universe that is true, and the way Sheldon sees things, if it's true in his universe it's TRUE, period. It's not the show's writers who are old school regarding guys and girls in the geek universe but Sheldon. That whole premise, which kicks off the action, is brought to a head in the bedroom with him trying to explain that he will always be Sheldon but he is trying in tiny baby steps to be someone else. If Sheldon ever accepted girls in D&D or got beyond the "only-guys-are-true-geeks" proposition, the show as such would cease to be, which is the writers' real dilemma and why they didn't really resolve anything with the Sheldon-Amy romance. If he changes, the show is over. If he doesn't, it runs the risk of being stale and repetitive. I wouldn't want to be on the writing staff for next season. Keeping it fresh is going to be very very hard.

I agree with those below who say this was an extremely good episode, probably one of the best this season. To steal Richard's quote, "The only man who objected to girls playing D & D was Sheldon, whose defining characteristic is lacking social skills and slavery to ritual." Exactly. And it's not just the lack of girl geek characters. One of the problems with many Chuck Lorie shows is well-written female characters. Penny started out as a dumb blonde and really only became well-rounded through Kaley Cuoco's doing. Amy and Bernadette are still too cartoonish for me. Female characters who are more "ballsy" nad who reflect the real world, like Priya and Leslie Winkel, the writers don't seem to know what to do with. The same is true in other CL shows, especially Two & A Half Men. Women are either pretty airheads or angry ball-busters, and little else. That's one huge strike against CL in my opinion.

It's going to be very hard to keep this show fresh next season, as you now have four men who have moved into different orbits and are united now only by the fact that they were all once single guys who liked to hang together in the same apartment. (To compensate they've been splitting the characters up into groups and having them have separate adventures that are really not connected by much of anything this season, but how much longer can they do that?) This is sort of what happened with Friends, but Friends quickly ended its run at that point. I'm betting next season may be it for BBT. Either that or (since it's making a significant chunk of CBS' profits at this point) they may ride it into the ground of suckiness. (Roj gets a NEW funny-looking girlfriend! Penny and Leonard break up AGAIN!)

Their inability to really find a new direction is evidenced by making the comic book store guy a full cast member and then using him about three times, and always in peripheral roles. Well, at least it wasn't that guy from the university who talks like Elmer Fudd. He's funny for about two seconds and then wears out his welcome.

I think of how Lucille Ball decided to end I Love Lucy at the height of its popularity simply because she felt the show was out of fresh ideas, and CBS, to seem classy, agreed. Today they run programs, and especially sitcoms, which are relatively cheap to produce, into the ground to get the last dollar out of them. Different world.

I don't agree at all with your statement that none of the girls are "geeks". Being a "geek" or a "nerd" doesn't always mean that they are the "cool geek stereotype" that you seem to subscribe to. Because the cute girl into cosplay and comic books that plays D&D and yet looks like a supermodel on a Sailor Moon outfilt is as much as a streotype as any out there. And it bothers me when a girl/character who doesn't subscribe to that stereotype is dismissed as not being a "geek" for not subscribing to all the interests that for some "nerd-police" as I call it, say they should.

Amy Farrah Fowler is a character who grew up with no friends, being bullied, shunned and ridiculed for who she was and how she looked. She is a scientist, yes, but she also invented the game "Counterfactuals" next to Sheldon, she is a huge fan of the Canterbury tales and has an extreme obsession with monkeys, and loves playing the harp. So what if she's not into science fiction? the world of geekdom is so much more than that. It is about being passionate about something even if the people around you think that such hobbie is lame. And here you are, dismissing her as a "geek" because her hobbies are not the ones she is supposed to have to be one?. Sorry, but in my eyes, that makes nothing more than affirming her "geek" status even more. Heck, it seems to be that the geeks think she is too much of a geek to be one!
A few episodes back SHE WANTED to play D&D saying that "she always wanted to play" but was turned down by Sheldon, and you seem to forget that too.

On another way of looking at it, let's say she's not, ok? and let's say that none of the girls is a "geek"... so what? does that dimish them as characters?

Oh, and one last thing. I am a geek myself, I organize Speedcubing and MTG events on a monthly basis next to my boyfriend. And I play D&D once a month with a group of friends. I am the ONLY girl at all of those activities. i,e: last Friday's Friday Night Magic I was the only girl on the comic book store. Me and about 50 guys. And yes, I still get weird looks when I show up at the comic book store, and so does my sister who is into comic books/manga. And I think my experience is as valid as yours. I am glad that in your area there are more girl geeks, but sadly, your reality is not reality everywhere and for everyone.

"He tells her that for him, their relationship is extremely
intimate, and while he never really answers her question (didn't he tell
Leonard and Penny that he was working on that? Or did I just dream
that? If he did, I feel like he could've mentioned that to Amy, too, but
continuity has never been this show's' strong suit, so I guess that's
asking for too much)"

sorry, but HE DID say it to her, when she asked him if he was considering physical intimacy, he did answer "I haven't ruled it out" to Amy.

These girls are characters on a TV show and their actions and interests do not have any connection to what is essentially 50% of the worlds population.

Has the writing staff changed in recent times? Such a recognisable flaw (and it *is* definitely there, because I'll hear things like that and wonder if they're recycling or recovering lines or scenarios from First Season writers' bull sessions) could be explainable if the show is bringing in new writers who don't seem to get it.

Kaci, do you think we're entering the Late Season Friends stage of the show?

In the beginning, everyone struggled with relationships (plenty of on again/off again seesawing there, Leoanrd and Penny), jobs and career prospects, living together, etc. Now the four guys are in relationships ranging from tentative dating to marriage, we won't hear about their work except for that one episode about tenure.

And now Bernadette and Howard are talking about children, which in television terms means almost certainly next season we'll have a pregnancy/birth (with maybe Bernadette going into labour at a comic-con convention at the season finale while trapped alone in a hotel elevator with Sheldon dressed as Spock having to assist, because TV is *never* predictable like that?)

I can see it happening. And since I doubt if the show will have the cash that Friends did to bring in the likes of Bruce Willis as recurring guest stars to maintain the ratings...

Lately I've been really annoyed with the quality of the show... If the show continues like this I dont think I'm going to be able to keep watching... I really hate that they cant have anyone who actually checks how accurate their d&d stuff is for example... there was nothing but them just rolling dies and listening to Howard and if anyone has ever played d&d then they know that thats not how good campaigns are done, We also know that this was a new campaign and we never saw anyone roll up characters, they seemed to have characters already before it started, even the girls just joined without characters. Next Sheldon never got a chance to make a save vs. the love spell. Also they were only using a d20 like the entire time... they only had two of them also... I could go on but i think I have provided enough reason why the D&D annoyed me...

nearly half my friends are female geeks... They are out there and there are a lot more of them then people give them credit... Its a shame that none of the girls in the show are geeks

Didn't find myself laughing that much at this episode, but Simon Helberg's impressions were absolutely brilliant.

WELL SAID!!!

I laughed the hardest when Howard joined Bernadette, saying, "Oooooooo." I've seen the episode 7 times now and it's still hilarious to me!

I think they just skipped over those parts because they only had 20 min. to tell the story.

Seconded

Sheldon doesn't need to change. Even if he's not modeled on OCD - he can still have his obsessions (?) & still not voice them or do it in different ways. Its how the objection is voiced that becomes a dead bore. He could've objected about new people entering their 'team' that's old but not as annoying as objecting to 'the girls'. Seems like CL taken the typical view of "men watch TV, while their women nag, get beer, or sit & gossip in the kitchen (its penny's kitchen island) & turned into the recent episodes of TBBT.

I completely agree with about CL...

Also the writers are meant to be creative...

Thank YOu for that! But the rom-com types who want Penny/Sheldon or Amy/Sheldon hook-ups want to go down that dark & slimy road with off-color jokes that are actually derogatory but the audience laughter drowns out their self-doubt & they laugh along. After all, if the LIVE audience are laughing, it must be funny

I think you take things far too seriously. I read comics, I play my videogames (not enough to be a gamer, but still), I watch some sci-fi, I know geek girls, but still, I know the stereotype: lonely guy with problems dating. Comedy is usually made out of stereotypes. You can't have a comedy relying on accurate representation of reality. You have to break rules and laugh at things. I think TBBT works on the stereotype, and I laugh at it because it is funny, and that is it. I know there can be geek girls, I don't need a show reminding me of that... And it doesn't bother me at all. My own geek friends make jokes about the image of the lonely, shy, "dateless" geek.

That said, it is true that the show is becoming worse and worse with every season.

> Kaci, do you think we're entering the Late Season Friends stage of

> the show?

Precisely. They're in the same quagmire, except the show is responsible for a very significant chunk of CBS' programming revenue, so don't expect it to end when it should. They will run it into the ground, I'm sure, just like Fox has done with The Simpsons.

If those are the biggest inaccuracies that annoy you then maybe you should come out from your D&D land and into the real world... :-)

Horrible. Community's D&D episode was so much better, it can't even be described with words.

TBBT has a lot of problems going on with it. For the first 3 seasons, it was mostly a show for nerds, their lifestyle and their problems, albeit with some rather obnoxious norms, like Leonards "unfullfilled sex-life when he's actually an A-class womanizer with a huge backlog of scores.

Then the show decided to somewhat evenly split its attention to both, the nerdy audience and those who would make fun of them, with a slight emphasize on being gradually more offensive towards geek-lifestyle and an overly abundant emphasize on the value of sex and relationships. Forced emphasize, i might add.

Now, we are at a point where the producers,writers and probably the stars themselves have all but abandoned a respectful stance towards what it means to be a geek. Even worse, it would seem like the only focus left is that on making cheap fun on their expense to please those who would make fun of them in real life. Even more troubling, even the fictional characters seem to openly denounce their own life so far.

It's really a testament to how far an otherwise "fair" depiction of supposed genius geeks takes a nose-dive after it got a rather wide-spread recognition and the producers trying to get the attention of the entirely wrong crowd with cheap tricks.

If anything, TBBT shows us how shifting the focus of the narrative, as part of the all-glorified "character-growth", can completely ruin a premise that made the show worthwhile in the beginning.

I wanted to thank Dr. Soula (yet again) for bringing Emily back to me. We had known each other for what seemed a lifetime and dated on and off during that lifetime. A couple years ago some rich beau moved to town and swept her away from me. They got married after 2 months of dating and moved away, I had no idea where she was or how to get a hold of her! I requested that the split them up and reunite us love spell be cast for me. A week later, out of nowhere, Emily showed up on my doorstep. Said she had been miserable in her short marriage, the guy was great but not for her. I helped her file for divorce and we got married at a justice of the peace two days after her divorce was final. We have been happy every since. You have done more for me that I could possibly ever repay you for. Big thanks to drsoula_b@live.com for bringing my ex back

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