‘The Big Bang Theory’ Recap: Hey There, Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Big Bang TheoryOne of the more infuriating aspects of The Big Bang Theory is how often it relies on “nerd humor.” It’s not that I have anything against making jokes at the expense of nerds (I say this as a self-proclaimed nerd), but it’s just frustrating because none of this “nerd humor” tends to be original. Rather, it’s just stereotype, cookie-cutter jokes. Oh, the guys love Star Trek because all the nerds love Stark Trek! Or the guys love comic books, because all the nerds love comic books! Jokes! 

This stuff not only comes across as lazy writing, but it’s simply just not that funny. That’s why “The Hawking Excitation,” an episode that focused so heavily on the nerdiness of the characters, contains humor that comes across pretty formulaic and bland. We feel like we’ve seen a lot of these nerd jokes before because, well, we have seen a lot of these nerd jokes before. But outside of that complaint, we saw some more genuine growth from Sheldon’s character, and plus, Stephen Hawking made an appearance. That’s pretty cool, right?

“Stephen Hawking, perhaps my only intellectual equal.” -Sheldon

Stephen Hawking visits the university, and Howard is selected as his “tour guide.” The guys are all super excited for Howard because Hawking is one of their idols, especially Sheldon, and it was pretty fun to see the four nerd out for someone in the scientific field (or as Penny calls him, the “wheelchair dude who invented time”) rather than a random comic book character (it still doesn’t change the fact that most of the jokes felt lazy, though). Sheldon begs Howard to introduce him to Hawking, but rightfully, Howard is bothered by the consistent abuse from Sheldon regarding his academic field. And who could blame him? At about every chance Sheldon gets, he reminds Howard that he doesn’t have a PhD. Although, Howard could just get one if it bothers him so much, at least that’s what the lovely, sweet Bernadette says.

“I pee-pee proofed your belt buckles.” -Sheldon

But because Howard controls something that Sheldon wants more than anything in the world — the opportunity to meet Stephen Hawking and present him with a paper he wrote — Howard uses this to his advantage and puts Sheldon to work. First, he has him clean all his belt buckles that are covered in urine splatter because he stands a little too close to the urinal (and because Howard is a disgusting human being). To Sheldon’s credit though, he finishes the job without much complaint, and so Howard makes him do another task, this one being much less productive and more humiliating. He gives him a sexy maid dress he bought for Bernadette (who refused to wear it), and makes him dress up and go to the university cafeteria to be embarrassed by all of his colleagues. And once again, Sheldon does it without much complaint. This was obviously just a ploy to get Jim Parsons dressed like a woman, but admittedly, it made me chuckle.

“I’m sorry, condescending means…” -Sheldon

Sheldon’s next task is Howard’s laundry, so he finds himself in the basement laundry room not on his typical Saturday night folding clothes that aren’t his with his clothes folder (a prop I always love to see, by the way). Penny shows up, and suddenly finds herself as Sheldon’s conscience. Should Howard do this to Sheldon? Penny helps him come to the conclusion that, eh, probably not, but then again Sheldon is a huge d**k to Howard on a regular basis, so he had it coming, right? Meanwhile, Howard tells Bernadette about Sheldon’s tasks and she’s upset. “Sheldon doesn’t know when he’s being mean because the part of his brain that should know is getting a wedgie from the rest of his brain,” she says. (Of course, then she sends Sheldon to his last task of shopping with Howard’s mother. Oh, and by the way, I HATE HOWARD’S MOM. This is a gag that literally makes my skin crawl, and I want nothing more than the show to remove her character.) 

Anyway, Bernadette makes a good point, too, because Sheldon’s brain is chemically different from the rest of the group, and this might have been the most upfront anyone has ever been on the show about Sheldon’s behavior. Typically, the characters are like, “Oh, Sheldon is nuts!” Rarely is there any compassion or explanation as to why his character acts the way he does. It’s brave of the writers to address this, and it fits right into the arc of Sheldon this season. After he takes Howard’s mom shopping, he apologizes to Howard and Howard informs him that he was just screwing with Sheldon the whole time, that he actually gave Hawking the paper a couple of days ago, and that Hawking loved it and wants to meet Sheldon. This obviously thrills Sheldon, who excitedly goes on to meet Hawking, but tragically, only to be told that he made an arithmetic error in the paper, resulting in Sheldon fainting. “Oh, not another fainter,” Hawking says, and the episode fades to black.


Big Bang Theory Spoiler! Stephen Hawking to Guest Star

Big Bang Theory Recap: Raj is Actually a Real Character

Big Bang Theory Recap: The Series Proves Its Strength of Character(s)