Aarti Mann
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS
In truth, just about everyone on The Big Bang Theory is an adorable geek — even comparative regular girl Penny (Kaley Cuoco). But Sheldon (Jim…

Yes, she’s hot. Like, ridiculously hot. Out-of-Leonard’s-league hot. I realize this, fellow Big Bang Theory fans. But that can’t possibly be the only reason that Leonard is interested in Raj’s sister Priya, right? After spending three seasons watching Penny and Leonard’s will-they-won’t-they-wow-they-just-did-now-what?, I’ll admit I was curious, and excited, about the prospect of a new love interest for the sitcom’s (much smarter than) everyman. (Not to mention thankful for the the fact that the show’s female perspective was about to get slightly more diverse.) But then the series gave us… Priya. The smart, grounded, practical — and did I mention hot? — Priya. Problem is, in the geeky, eccentric world of Big Bang, practical just doesn’t cut it.

I suppose I understand the idea that like many men, Leonard would seek out his ex-girlfriend’s polar opposite for his next non-World of Warcraft conquest. (It’s the same reason Penny started dating Zack, played with perfect comic timing by Brian Thomas Smith.) Unfortunately, all of Penny and Priya’s opposing traits only make Priya seem that much less appealing. Penny is trustworthy. Based on her demand that Leonard stop being friends with Penny, Priya is not. Penny puts up with — and can be one of — the guys. Priya would rather resume her scheduled date night than participate in Sheldon & Co.’s shenanigans. And, perhaps most importantly, Penny is funny. Priya is most definitely not. (Strange, considering her brother is Raj, the character who often steals scenes with delightful one-liners.)

Now, this is no slam against the actress who plays Priya, Aarti Mann. In fact, she’s playing the part perfectly. The reason Big Bang Theory has Priya is the same reason Friends had Emily: To make us appreciate and pine for the Penny-Leonard romance the same way we appreciated and pined for Ross and Rachel after he met his future (and short-lived) British wife. And it’s working: As of late this season, haven’t you found yourself wondering just when those crazy kids Penny and Leonard will realize they’re meant for each other? After all, Priya is just too normal to exist in Big Bang Theory‘s geek-laced universe. And though we can imagine that Leonard would appreciate some normalcy after being surrounded by his outlandish friends, he’s just not normal enough for normal.

Who else agrees? And why do you think Leonard is with Priya? Is there any other possible reason than to replace Penny with Penny’s polar opposite?

Follow Kate on Twitter: @KateWardEW

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Episode Recaps

In truth, just about everyone on The Big Bang Theory is an adorable geek — even comparative regular girl Penny (Kaley Cuoco). But Sheldon (Jim…
The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj, and Wolowitz, Amy, Bernadette—the gang keeps growing. Bazinga!

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