CBS’ The Big Bang Theory The Anxiety Optimization TV Show Review. The Big Bang Theory, Season 8, Episode 13: The Anxiety Optimization saw Sheldon (Jim Parsons) get it in his head that his creative juices as a scientist, solving the Dark Matter Theory of the Great Beyond, is ebbing away, and that the only way to restore it is to become a tortured genius.
He asks his friends to torment him to artificially induce a resurgence of creative inspiration.
This episode is pretty mediocre fare, but as usual has some witty writing. However, Parson engages in some uncomfortably sexist remarks and one wonders. Because the show is popular, are fans willing to give some leeway, or did it go right over the heads of most viewers?
“I’ve been experimenting with anxiety,” Sheldon announces to his girlfriend Amy (Mayim Bialik) and her friend Penny (Kaley Cuoco). Then he accuses the girls of engaging in “crotch talk” and making admiring “buttocks” stories about guys. He finishes it off with an intended joke about women being “cranky and bloated” during their female time of the month.
This shows that even high paid writers are prone to negative stereotypes still hanging in the dusty closet about the female body and the humor that can be derived from it. The moment is saved from potential sexist disaster and viewer recrimination when Amy throws Sheldon out of the house until he can cease his masochistic irritations.
One of the show’s best moments comes when Amy is testing Sheldon, monitoring his anxiety levels. When the meter drops, Sheldon, who sports an anxiety-inducing cap, angrily asks why?
“Because you’re happy your anxiety level is elevated,” Amy responds.
Another high point comes when Amy scratches with her fingers a balloon to make Sheldon miserable, and he pops it.
“Why?” Amy asks.
“I was aiming at your heart,” Sheldon responds.
Sheldon accuses the group including Howard (Simon Helberg), Leonard (Johnny Galecki), and Raj (Kunal Nayyar), of not doing enough to make him miserable.
“You guys are the worst,” Sheldon says, then reflects, and adds, “thank you. That was helpful.”
Sheldon finally drives himself into a semi-lucid suspended state of zombie-like, barely comatose sleep- walk with dark eye-bags and is led to bed by Penny and Howard.
“You can’t make me sleep,” Sheldon counters, leaning up.
Penny sings a soft song and Sheldon plunges down unconscious.
This episode demonstrates that bodily function jokes can be funny or obnoxious based on a fine line that in this case was crossed and then backtracked before any real lasting potential damage could be done.
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