As any good friend of Frank knows, he hates the Big Bang Theory. According to Frank, the show isn’t funny, the characters are unrealistic, the show actually hates on nerds, etc. (you should hear him rant about it, he’s actually pretty passionate about the whole thing). As the female lab experiment that Frank grew in a petri dish and now refers to as his ‘sister,’ I agree, the Big Bang Theory is awful, as are most cable sitcoms. However, unlike most sitcoms, the show has a certain element to it that one can only describe as “refreshingly horrific.” The Big Bang Theory relies on the use of sexual harassment for jokes, but Sheldon, a male, is the target of such harassment.
I know that here at RBX we have all made some pretty insensitive jokes, but as a hairy feminist I hate to see anyone be made to feel uncomfortable, even in a fictional show. Now, for those of you who may not watch the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon, one of the main characters of the show, and by far one of the most annoying characters ever created, acquired a girlfriend, Amy, who is in every way as annoying as Sheldon is. Although the couple may at first glance seem perfect for each other, the two are separated by one distinct characteristic; Sheldon hates all human contact, and is most likely asexual (it’s a little ambiguous), while Amy is a lustful virgin who longs for a man to stimulate her mind as well as her body (I gagged a little while writing that).
This difference in sexuality would be fine if left alone, but of course, Amy constantly nags Sheldon to do sexual things with her, and then gets mad when he refuses, or half-heartedly tries to appease her. The episode ‘The Isolation Permutation,’ is especially bad, as Amy, hurt after being excluded from girls’ night with the other female characters, turns to Sheldon for comfort.
Several times throughout the episode, Amy tries to harass Sheldon into having sex with her, using the fact that she was just hurt by two of her closest friends as a means of pressuring Sheldon to make up for it. At one point in the episode, Amy drunkenly asks Sheldon, “What would it take for you to go into that liquor store, buy a bottle of hooch, take me across the street to that motel, and have your way with me?” Sheldon is obviously uncomfortable by the question, while Leonard starts to tease him about it. This kind of behavior is not unique to this episode either, but serves as a major plot point for Sheldon and Amy throughout the series. Comedy gold, am I right?
What’s troubling about Amy sexually harassing Sheldon is not only that it’s happening on a regular basis, but also that everyone in the series laughs about it. Leonard, Penny, and the other characters make Sheldon feel bad about his choice to abstain because it’s abnormal, and therefore must take every opportunity to peer pressure him into having sex with Amy, even though it is clearly not what Sheldon wants. Furthermore, the fact that the sexual harassment is supposed to be funny is disturbing, and yet I hear so many people talk about it as though it’s just good ol’ Amy trying to fix Sheldon so that they can finally love each other conventionally and all that wholesome goodness (they’ll be happy to see that Sheldon is finally starting to give in to peer pressure, hazzah).
You can call me a crazy oversensitive feminazi if you want to, but like I said, I just hate to see anybody be made to feel uncomfortable, even a terrible character like Sheldon. A show like the Big Bang Theory is supposed to be refreshingly unique, I thought that was the whole point of having a show centered around “undesirables.” And yet, this show, like many of the other sitcoms I’ve seen on air, focuses too much on shock factor, quotable one-liners, and a repetition of plot devices that leave even fans of the show bored.