The Big Bang Theory – “The Friendship Contraction”

A Review by Loki100

AV Club Link:,66270/#comment-457929748

The Big Bang Theory is a twisted, depraved psychological thriller, but trends a little to much towards melodrama. At its core, the show is a deep Freudian examination of the character Leonard, an emotionally stunted, self-loathing, larval homosexual, and the abusive relationships that he surrounds himself with. Growing up with a dominating mother and a weak father created a reverse Oedipus complex, a scientifically defunct but interesting idea, with which his mind is unable to cope.

As a means of coping with his unwanted and unconscious homosexual desires, Leonard becomes involved in a homoerotic but not sexual co-dependent relationship with a sociopath named Sheldon. Sheldon is the prototypical psychopath, with no emotions and unable to empathize with any other person. Leonard's inherently masochistic personality, engendered by his self-loathing, the perfect target for homosocial fixation. Sheldon is abusive, acting as a constant punishment for Leonard's latent sexual desires, and also as the masculine object with which Leonard can never embrace. Sheldon's monstrous lack of humanity allows him to even over look when Leonard's repressed anger can no longer be sublimated by his unconscious and springs out as a torrent of abuse.

Across the hall resides Penny, a pathological liar and con artist who makes her living by various scams. With Leonard and Sheldon she is pulling a long con, alternately pretending to be a waitress or actress in order to worm her way into their lives. Penny's ultimate goal is, obviously, to engage both Leonard and Sheldon in matrimony (obviously at various different stages in their lives), at which point she plans to murder them and receive the vast wealth that their patents inevitably will bring her. As part of her long con she has to constantly be stringing Leonard (her first victim) along, sometimes posing as his girlfriend and sometimes breaking up. By giving and then withholding the love and approval that he craves but ultimately believes himself unworthy of, she creates in him a form of psychological addiction to her, pulling him ever deeper into her web of lies and deceit. The fact that she has no romantic or sexual chemistry with him is indicative of both her con game and his deep ambivalence about women. In fact, the show includes cackling laughter coming from no discernible source. But this laughter is really Penny's mental laughter at how well her con game is going.

The inherent problem with The Big Bang Theory is how long the show can keep ratcheting up the tension between these profoundly disturbed and profoundly disturbing characters. For five seasons now we have watched their mental problems steadily overtake them, creating an ever more dark atmosphere and unbearable narrative pressure. The Big Bang Theory is the most provocative and upsetting psychological drama ever produced, far more so than even an excellent psycho-drama like Breaking Bad, however it needs a clear end point where the inevitable violence and sex spins into an out of control void of nihilistic chaos. It can't be all simmer and no stake.

Grade: A-