Television The Big Bang Theory

Everyone Has Each Other’s Backs on The Big Bang Theory’s “The Confirmation Polarization”

*Spoiler warning for The Big Bang Theory, season 12, episode 13.

Bernadette and Penny on The Big Bang Theory
Bernadette and Penny on The Big Bang Theory. Photo courtesy of CBS, screenshot by Linda Maleh.

Sitcoms can be full of selfish people. The Big Bang Theory is no exception, and when we met the group in season one, they were some of the most selfish people on the planet, Sheldon most of all. This episode shows just how far the characters have come as they make the selfless choice, and stick up for their friends.

The story starts with Sheldon and Amy finding out that their recently published paper on asymmetry, has actually been proven by two other scientists conducting their own experiment. I know what you’re thinking: that was fast. However, apparently, these other two scientists didn’t understand their own data, and thought their experiment was a failure, until they applied Sheldon and Amy’s theory of asymmetry to it. (Let’s also remember that this is the last season of the show, so the series has to work hard to wrap up their storylines, no matter how expedited.)

The problem comes when discussing who will be nominated for the Nobel Prize for this theory of asymmetry. Unfortunately for Sheldon and Amy, the prize has often favored experimentation over theorization, which means that these other guys whose experiment was basically only a success by accident and because of Sheldon and Amy’s theory, might win the prize over them, if they are recommended to the award separately. Sheldon proceeds to go yell at the scientists for trying to steal the award, and while there gets an interesting proposal from them. They want to share the award, get recommended together so that they have the strongest possible claim – except, only three people are allowed to share the award, and they want to cut Amy out since she’s a neuroscientist, not a physicist. (It is, however, not unnoticed by me that they want to cut the woman from receiving the credit. What else is new?)

If this were season one, Sheldon would have taken that award and ran. However, this is season 12, and he is a much better person than he used to be. He refuses to try for the award without her, and even when she says that if he wants to he can, since achieving a Nobel is his dream, he still cannot fathom it. He walks right into President Seabert’s office, and demands that if Seabert is not going to recommend him and Amy together, he might as well not recommend either of them at all. Seabert readily agrees, and so we have ourselves a nice little face-off between the two pairs of sciences for this Nobel Prize. I know I’m looking forward to the anticipation.

The other storyline this episode is between Bernadette and Penny, and as with the other, it involves one character supporting the other. Bernadette’s anti-inflammatory drug has finally been approved by the FDA, and she wants Penny to head up her marketing team. When Penny gives excuses of why she can’t, and finally just flat out refuses, Bernadette, and everyone else, just assumes she doesn’t want to work for Bernadette (since Bernadette can be terrifying). She finally admits though that she feels insecure about being in charge of something so big and important. She assumes that because her other co-workers went to college and have more experience than her, that she may be looked down upon, and that she may not be ready for this kind of experience. Bernadette tries to buck her up, but soon realizes she needs stealthier tactics to convince Penny that she can do this job.

Bernadette ambushes Penny in the hallway and says that she respects Penny’s decision. Then she starts talking about how it is probably better this way anyway, since she needs someone really qualified to head up her sales team. Then she says this other coworker would be perfect for it, and she’s going to give the position to her. The reverse psychology works, and Penny realizes she’s so much better for the job than her other coworkers, and she really wants it too. She takes the position, and also takes Bernadette’s advice – if you want to make sure people respect you, just be mean to them. She scares the bejeezus out the other people on the team, and makes sure they’re all terrified of her. She seems to be on the right track.

So often, good television is made off the drama of the different characters betraying each other; it’s nice to see them have each other backs as well, and in my opinion, it makes even better television. This episode was proof of that.

P.S. What ever happened to Leonard being offered to be a sperm donner for Penny’s ex-boyfriend Zack? It’s unclear. There’s no mention of it in this episode.

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