March 27, 2013

The Big Bang Theory: "The Closet Reconfiguration" Review

The Big Bang Theory has been doing so many things right this season. Yes, sometimes this show goes for the cheap laugh; racial and sexual jokes were a mainstay of the first few seasons. But at it's best, TBBT is about the unlikely relationships among a quirky group of people played by authentically funny actors.

In television, where the future of a show always hangs in the balance of ratings and audience whim, it's character development that really counts. It's the only thing that ensures that writers don't repeat the same plots over and over, boring the finicky viewers who are oh-so-apt to reach for the remote. Season 6 has been chock-full of character development. Penny, although still surname-less, finally professed her love for Leonard and is making strides toward professional success. Sheldon confessed that his relationship with Amy might grow beyond what Season 1 Sheldon every would have allowed. Raj found a new love and planned the cutest socially awkward date ever. And then there's Howard. Darling, creepy Howard Wolowitz. "The Closet Reconfiguration" was my favorite episode so far this season. Dedicated to Howard more than any other character, it confronted his childhood and his father's departure by means of a letter read only by Sheldon.

Howard and Bernadette's relationship has always worked comedically, but now we see that it works dramatically as well. Just in case you didn't catch it, Leonard said it outright: "It's just kind of weird how grown up he is now. Happily married guy, throwing dinner parties." Having Sheldon read the letter from Howard's father was a stroke of brilliance. It balanced the seriousness of the situation with the levity viewers have come to expect.

The episode culminated in this beautiful scene:

See how the viewer is put in Howard's position? The state of both knowing and not knowing? So we viewers empathize. And not with Penny as we're usually prone to, but with Howard.

Unlike most sitcoms, The Big Bang Theory has improved with time. Season 6, and it's stronger than ever. With stronger storylines, and stronger characters. As long as that's the case, I'll keep watching.

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