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'The Big Bang Theory' recap: 'The Anxiety Optimization'

Sheldon asks the gang to purposely irritate him so he can reach a scientific breakthrough.

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Michael Yarish/CBS

The Big Bang Theory

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
8
run date:
09/24/07
performer:
Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Scott Halberstadt, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Frank Pacheco
Producer:
Chuck Lorre
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Comedy

Three weeks ago, the geeky show we all know and love pressed pause on the “nerd” button and focused on friendship-bonding and basket-weaving. This week, The Big Bang Theory makes an about face, diving deep into the mysterious realms of dark matter. Sheldon plans to make a scientific breakthrough by the time Penny and Leonard return from dinner, thanks to his optimum working environment: perfect temperature tea, fleece-lined boxers, and a famous physicist’s head Photoshopped on an inspirational cat poster. Clearly he’s covered all his bases in order to reach a paradigm shifting evening of science. 

Sadly, the groundbreaking discovery eludes Sheldon. Staring at a blank white board has become tedious, so he opts for a breath of fresh air—in the hallway. He hears Penny grunting through a hard workout, and is puzzled by her willingness to power through even though she hates the task. He suddenly realizes that a pleasant working environment is actually hindering his productivity. What he needs is a little anxiety. And he knows just where to find it.

It’s a good thing Sheldon’s girlfriend is a neurobiologist because I’m not sure anyone else would have been able to score such a fancy skullcap that can measure one’s level of anxiety. Instead of ripping open one of his many mint-in-box action figures in order to provoke a level of uneasiness, Amy chooses to rub a balloon near his ear, which is equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. Sheldon pops the balloon, and Amy scolds him for ruining their research. Sheldon begins to argue, and his anxiety level rises! They found the sweet spot!

Knowing that anxiety helps him with his dark matter research, Sheldon asks the guys to disagree with whatever he says. This request takes zero convincing. The boys are easily on board. He also asks the ladies to include him in their girl’s night “crotch talk” sessions. When he refuses to lose the notebook, computer, and anxiety cap during date night, Amy puts her foot down. Sheldon explains that the funky smell wafting from the cap is his principle source of anxiety at the moment. The cap isn’t going anywhere. So Amy kicks him out.

A sleep-deprived, hallucinating Sheldon makes his way back home. Penny and Leonard force him to go to bed, but Sheldon fights them like a disgruntled toddler. They do what anyone would do in this situation. They sing “Soft Kitty.” Sheldon is out like a light.

In other news, Howard made up a game that has everyone simultaneously laughing at and crying for Raj. Based on the statement alone, do you think he is referring to his girlfriend Emily, or his dog Cinnamon?

1. The bed feels so lonely when you’re not in it.

2. Check it out! I got us matching sweaters!

3. You’re so lucky. You have the shiniest hair.

4. It’s just so perfect that we are both Libras.

Spoiler: The answer is Cinnamon. Every time.  

Although this episode felt a lot like the same storyline in season 3 when Sheldon was a mindless bus boy at the Cheesecake Factory, I still enjoy when Jim Parsons gets to turn Dr. Cooper’s neurotic dial up a few ticks. Whether he’s spouting off phrases like “proton decay” or nonchalantly asking the girls who has the best cervix, the episodes that combine nerd science and inappropriate boundaries are always the most fun.

Theoretical Laughter

“I love him, but if he’s broken, let’s not get a new one.” —Penny, exhausted by Sheldon’s wacky antics

“I need to irritate you to find your optimal anxiety zone. You said no to tickling, polka music, or watching me eat a banana.” —Amy, explaining why she chose a balloon to irritate Sheldon

“Who eats bananas horizontally?” —Sheldon

“My mother said that’s how good girls do it.” —Amy

“It’s the middle of the night! Can you put on your headphones?” —Leonard, annoyed with Sheldon for playing his Joker, Godzilla, and Darth Vadar  “anxiety music”

“Geez. Just like Taylor Swift said. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” —Sheldon

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