This review contains spoilers.
11.1 The Proposal Proposal
The wait is over – the world’s least mysterious mystery has been resolved and Sheldon and Amy have agreed to be ‘Shamy’ ‘til death do they part. Well, that’s if they make it to the aisle, and if Stephen Hawking continues to approve of their union.
Amy’s answer to Sheldon’s proposal was obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with The Big Bang Theory’s most recent seasons. The couple’s trajectory has been stretched out so far already that there really isn’t anything else the writers could do with them aside from break them up yet again. As we learned with Leonard and Penny when they were the focus, even that can only last so long.
So now they’re engaged, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the drama. Immediately after accepting, Amy starts to have second thoughts about whether she’s made the right decision. At a dinner with her colleagues Sheldon does what he does best – tries to make the occasion all about himself at the expense of his friends.
They make up once Sheldon relates their lives to The Avengers. He was The Hulk, when he should have been Iron Man making a cameo in someone else’s movie. As analogies go, it’s not bad, but we could all probably do with less Iron Man in other people’s movies.
Tired as it is watching Sheldon not understand his own arrogance and narcissism and then apologising for it later, it’s a decent establishing plot for the premiere on this new season and their relationship’s next stage. I’ve long assumed that the show would end with Sheldon and Amy’s wedding, so that would mean that this engagement will last as long as the series does.
Things are changing for the other characters too, as Bernadette is shown discovering another pregnancy just as Sheldon is breaking the news to all of his nearest and dearest. This is a weird decision from the writers, and even the characters are reacting as if they’ve been cruelly blindsided. Raj, meanwhile, is still the lonely, unloved one – even Stuart is dating someone.
Leonard and Penny’s story thread is as brief and background as it ever is, but it also spawns one of the best scenes of the episode. Leonard decks the apartment out with balloons and cake so that Penny doesn’t feel left out of the celebrations, and neither of them remember that it’s actually their anniversary. This is the most ‘them’ they’ve been in a while, and I love that they don’t even consider taking Bernadette up on her offer to have simultaneous babies.
I don’t know where else to put it, so here we are awkwardly segueing. Along with the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory CBS aired the pilot of its new spin-off Young Sheldon last night. Surprise – it’s not bad at all. The dodgy elements come from how needless and ultimately regressive the idea to centre a show around a child version of this character is in the first place, but the show functions quite well as a family sitcom that just happens to feature a voiceover from Jim Parsons.
The show is a symptom of peak TV, in which a rather gentle family series like Young Sheldon would likely not be successful without the brand name and in-built audience of TV’s most successful sitcom. That said, only time will tell whether that audience will take to such a different show. It’s single camera and leans into that format change. Therefore it’s less of a sister show and more of a distant cousin.
The Big Bang Theory universe is not going anywhere anytime soon and, judging from this new double-length Monday night offering, it’s happy to simply tread water until it’s shown the door. Hopefully we see some new ideas in this eleventh season, even if this premiere doesn’t promise much.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Long Distance Dissonance, here.