The just concluded season of The Big Bang Theory has mirrored Friends in some uncanny ways, especially the love triangle between Leonard (e.g. Ross), Penny (Rachel), and Priya (Emily). Thursday’s season finale, however, took the Friends-ifying to a whole new level, after Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) woke up in bed together after a night of red wine and personal confessions. (Hers: She never should have broken up with Leonard. His: He’s such a sad sack, he’s taken to spending his nights downloading “increasingly shameful pornography.”)
This development has proven to be quite controversial with Big Bang fans — or at least the ones on EW.com message boards. Some felt it was far too out of character for these two crazy kids to end up horizontal; others thought it made sense enough, and besides, it was funny! Really, though, what it all boils down to is this: Is Raj and Penny’s unexpected rendezvous more like Monica and Chandler’s surprise shenanigans at the end of Friends‘ fourth season? Or like Joey and Rachel’s abortive attempt at a relationship at the beginning of Friends‘ ninth season? Both pairings were surprises that at the time seemed to come out of nowhere (in Joey’s case, his feelings sprouted in season 8), but only one coupling ended up really making any kind of sense and working to the show’s advantage.
I’m not suggesting Raj and Penny would ever really go the distance. Penny seems pretty dedicated to her crush on Leonard, and Raj still has to work out his feelings for Howard’s fiancée Bernadette. I’m more interested in long-term plausibility. Chandler and Monica hooking up panned out like gangbusters, and fueled several more seasons of storylines for the two of them. If Penny and Raj fall into this category, Big Bang‘s fifth season could hold some juicy episodes as everyone figures how to deal with their one-night stand. On the other hand, Joey’s unrequited crush on Rachel was cute, but the notion of them in flagrante felt all kinds of wrong, like the writers hastily stretched to come up with some new relationship combination; they ultimately did away with the coupling pretty much before it started. Should Penny and Raj prove to be more like this pairing, Big Bang may end up lamely papering over the dalliance and pretending it never happened.
Then again, maybe there’s a horde of Rajenny ‘shippers tucked in some far corner of the interwebs that just had their very best week ever.
What do you think?