The Big Bang Theory Season 6 Review “The Bakersfield Expedition” – Faith: Renewed

I think I really needed “The Bakersfield Expedition,” this week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory, after last week’s offering left me with such a sour taste in my mouth. I admit to going on a bit of a rant, and I still stand by everything I said, but I felt terrible that I had to say those things. I love this show and I love these characters and it wasn’t any fun for me to walk away from that episode upset.

Fortunately, this week, my faith was renewed on two different fronts. Let’s talk about the boys first. On their way to a comic convention in Bakersfield, the guys made a detour to Vasquez Rocks, the backdrop of many an alien planet on Star Trek (most notably as Vulcan in the 2009 movie), to take some photos in their Next Generation uniforms. During the shoot, Leonard’s car was stolen, leaving them stranded. As no one would stop for them, except to throw slurpees at them, the boys had to walk until they reached a diner, where no one, from the waitresses to the patrons to the cops, took them seriously.

We know these characters have been bullied and beaten up and put down for their interests…we’ve seen it happen on the show many times…but neither the abuse nor its affect on the boys has ever been so accurately portrayed before. Watching Leonard, then Howard, and then Sheldon bow under the weight of mainstream judgement hit me square in the chest.

For the first time in a very long time I didn’t feel as if the writers were making fun of me or my friends, but that they were actually showing the world just what that prejudice feels like. Being dismissed or put down because you like something that other people think isn’t cool…it sounds so innocuous, like we should just shut up or even that we’re asking for it by not hiding ourselves behind some mask of normality, as Penny pointed out earlier in the episode (apparently she hasn’t watched enough Doctor Who if she still thinks bow ties aren’t cool). It’s not nothing, though. It hurts. I liken it to slut-shaming which is a big topic these days. It’s geek-shaming. “If you wear that bow tie, you’re asking to get beat up.”

So even though that moment in the diner was painfully real, having the boys come home and have their spirits renewed also felt absolutely true. The world can put you down, but they can only tear you down if you let them. That is why there is such a strong sense of community in fandom, and I think that is why people in the community are so knee-jerk wary of anyone they consider an outsider, even (and sadly), women in general.

And that brings us to the girls. Over brunch, the gals finally, FINALLY had the crazy thought that maybe they should check out these comic books that their boyfriends are so interested in. So, they headed to the comic book store, endured the open-mouthed stares from the men inside (kudos to Stuart for threatening them all with the hose) and bought a few issues of Thor. Because he was hot. (Hey, that’s just a fact. Thor is, thanks perhaps to Chris Hemsworth, ridiculously hot. Don’t even get me started on the portrayal of women on comic book covers and how that’s used to lure in male readers.)

Even though at first it seemed like the girls were going to dismiss the comic books out of hand and my heart sank a little bit, I’m glad I hung on because almost in the same breath where the girls couldn’t imagine their guys arguing about superheroes…they got into an argument about the magical properties of Thor’s hammer.

It was brilliant. It was everything I’ve been wanting to see since the women started to get a larger role on the show. When the boys returned home, their spirits as wilted as the makeup on their faces, they stumbled into an alternate reality…that’s actually the reality most people in this community live in…where the women in their lives were having a no-holds-barred debate about Red Hulk. I just hope this wasn’t a one-time thing; I hope it becomes a new reality for them.

I don’t know if someone, anyone, was listening to my rant last week, but they graced me with the episode I needed to rediscover my love for this show. It might not be a coincidence that last night The Big Bang Theory walked away with the People’s Choice Award for Best Comedy; geeks are moving into the mainstream (although some will always argue that TBBT will never be the true story of our community.) I say that no fictional representation of any section of society will ever really get it right, but at least now (I hope, I pray), the TBBT‘s writers might be starting to realize that they have the power to help change how the world sees and feels about people like me. And you know what they say about what comes with great power…

What did you think about the episode? Let me know below! And remember you can always follow me on Twitter @krieli1 so you never miss a review or a rant.