The Big Bang Theory Review: The Bully Versus the Mathletes

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I didn't like "The Speckerman Recurrence."

While there were a few funny moments, I almost felt guilty laughing because it made me feel like a bully. Recently, the plight of bullied kids has become a high profile discussion, so this episode seemed somewhat in poor taste. The Big Bang Theory has always been a show about and for intelligent people and nerds, though not exclusively. Unfortunately, this episode showed the audience that once you are bullied, you will always be bullied.

The Big Bang Theory Trio

Chuck Lorre had an amazing opportunity to be funny, while also empowering those that are being bullied. The end with Sheldon and Leonard running away from Jimmy was unfunny, unoriginal ("just need to outrun you"), and also down right discouraging. This conclusion discounted anything else redeemable in the episode.

Despite that, I'll mention them.

My favorite line was when Penny asked about the Wi-Fi password. This ongoing joke cracks me up each time. It's a little surprising that Sheldon comes up with such witty passwords without being anal about security, but this continuity makes me smile every time.

As has become common, the guys and girls were split up here with very different outcomes. Penny came to realize that she was a bully and wanted to make up for it. Her attempts to apologize seemed only somewhat genuine, as she still had little patience for her victims. In Penny-style, she decided to be charitable, but only if it wasn't too much of an inconvenience. Given my outrage at how the guys' bully storyline was handled, I probably should be more upset with Penny, as well. But, for some reason, she was so charming in her own way. Perhaps, it is because she wasn't mean-spirited, as Jimmy continued to be.

Penny has been rubbing off on Amy and Bernadette and usually it has helped them become more socially adept. This time, she instead corrupted them to steal donated clothes. Fortunately, she realized it was wrong. It was a fun departure for Bernadette when she took the shoes and justified it with her work at the soup kitchen.

I would have liked to see Sheldon's bullying nature to have been highlighted a bit more. His lines were some of the funniest, but at the same time they were demeaning to his friends. This is commonplace on the sitcom, but given the theme, it would have been perfect for any of his friends to call him out about it and make a joke. That could have redeemed the episode by showing anyone can be a bully.

I'm probably over-thinking the episode, because it is a comedy, but the topic could have been handled more appropriately and not have slid by with unoriginal, cliche jokes.

In any case, check out the few funny lines from the episode and sound off with your take on it.


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.0 / 5.0 (97 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I'm also sick of Amy being gay for Penny. We get it, you think she's sexy. Either date her or stop! It's too repetitive.


Of course this show has gone down the shitter! Chuck Lorre decided to make it somewhat of a 2.5 Men and brought THE GIRLS IN! I have hated them on the show from the minute they stepped foot on the first episode as main characters. For guys who are depicted as so nerdy they can't get laid for cash, 3/4 have girlfriends/fiancees! Howard and Raj are NEVER showcased, and I love them. I want a Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard reunion! Without the girls. Remember when Raj, Howard, and Leonard were high in the woods? I MISS that. Oh well. Chuck Lorre ruining probably my favorite show (or one of my biggest). Why am I not surprised? At least Amy has some good moments. And perhaps the girls could be incorporated in a better way, or kicked off (she said hopefully??). And get Penny some help, god damnit.


I agree. The bullying thing was mismanged but it was one episode. Some people are going a little overboard with thier complaints. The continual mismangedment of the characters is what is destroying the show. Watching an episode from Seaon 1, 2 or 3 and then turning on Season 5 is like putting on a whole new show. I get that they tried to make it more appealing to a broader audience but they failed miserably. Besides, it was the number 1 show BEFORE they brought in Amy and Bernadette as full time cast members and turned Penny into drunked mess. If everyone was watching it before, then why the atempt to market it to a broader audience? The audience was already very broad. Raj and Howard no longer exist, Sheldon might as well just be a weirdo now who doesn't like anyone, and Amy and Bernadette forming this clique with Penny just isolates her from Sheldon. Penny and Sheldon - together - are the reason people watched this show. If this trend of turning TBBT into a bizare twist on Friends continues, i give it one more season before no one watches it anymore. Chuck Lorre - Your audience doesn't want another typical comedy, that why we watched TBBT in the first place - it was unique and origonal. Get it back to where it use to be, pleeeeease!


This episode sucked as all of them have this season. Ever since Amy came on the show its gone downhill. She has destroyed Sheldon's character and has now moved on to Penny's. I just wish we could have an episode with Penny and the 4 guys, like it used to be. Amy and Bernadette dont fit in with the show. The show is all about sex and relationships now. People used to watch it because (and this is the key word) it was UNIQUE. Not its no different than every other show: sex, relationships and drama. What happened to the nerdy and science stuff? Sheldon care more about his friends than winning the Nobel prize. His not caring made the show funny. Can we get back to basic here?


I agree with the reviewer to a point and a lot of the replies. I was bullied in school and it is not funny. It is not a comedic subject unless you are the bully instead of the victim. I highly doubt the majority of Big Bang's audience are bullies, probably most of us were the victims. Why would the writers think this is a good idea? I almost feel that they got their signing for 3 more seasons last year and they figured they didn't have to try as hard anymore. That's why it's gone downhill this season.


I hated this episode. Hated, hated, hated it. It wasn't funny. Not just because they mismanaged the whole bullying storyline, but because they continue to mismanage their characters. Sheldon used to be just socially inept - now he's just a mean A-hole. I agree with all the people who say that Sheldon is a verbal bully - of course he is! I get that Penny probably didn't realize how mean she was being - a lot of bullies don't realize how hurtful their actions are, and this was a good way of showing it. But Penny stealing from poor people? That's never funny - whose idea was that?! The fun in BBT used to be watching Penny (the one socially aware character) interact with the nerds with varying social aptitude. I don't know what's happening with this show.


Totally agree with the reviewer and... I never disliked Penny so much.


I used to like this programme. However, last episode didn’t make me smile not even once; it was truly with bad taste. Bulling is a serious matter... Come on! There are kids committing suicide in real life for this problem. Why not to make a difference making fun of bullies? Let’s use the media to help putting things straight... or neither producer nor writers have enough imagination? About Bernadette, in a former episode she bought a Rolex to her fiancé Howard... so I’m sure she can afford a pair of boots.


Don't really agree with Sheldon being a bully though. I think it's a part of his social ineptness. Whereas implicitly condoning Jimmy's outright and mean spirited bullying (in a way) - that was just too much and way too depressing. It was horrible to watch.


I have to agree with the reviewer. This was one extremely depressing episode.

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The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 11 Quotes

Oh, terrific. High school quarterback against four mathletes.


Penny: Hi. Did Sheldon change the Wi-Fi password again?
Leonard: Yeah, it's "Penny already eats our food she can pay for Wi-Fi." No spaces.