With this week’s episode, The Locomotive Manipulation, The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler officially became one of my favorite couples ever.
I’ve been a fan of The Big Bang Theory from episode one, appreciating the quirky characters and silly humor supplied by producer Chuck Lorre, the amazing writing staff, and the hugely talented cast of actors. But it was the introduction of Mayim Bialik’s Amy Farrah Fowler as a romantic foil for the seemingly asexual Sheldon Cooper (played by the exquisite Jim Parsons) that really kicked the show up a notch, if you ask my opinion. The evolving relationship between these two characters has proven an absolute delight, and I would say it is one of the best examples ever of the will-they-or-won’t-they tease ever depicted on a TV program.
In a typical situation, unresolved sexual tension (UST) most often occurs between a couple that both clearly have feelings for each other but are thwarted on multiple levels whenever they try to act on that attraction. Either dramatic or silly obstacles are thrown in their path to keep them apart, the desires they can’t express building like slowly churning lava ready to erupt at any given moment. The problem is that you know – you just know – that unless the show is cancelled prematurely, eventually the couple will find a way to be together. It’s simply a matter of time and patience and hope that you don’t get fed up with the increasingly ridiculous manipulations used to keep the couple apart for as long as possible.
With Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler, the obstacle between them seems so insurmountable that there is genuine doubt of whether or not they will ever manage to meet in the middle, so to speak. That’s because this obstacle is not something external to the relationship, but rather Sheldon himself. In order for their relationship to move to whatever level is considered “next,” Amy must constantly fight against Sheldon’s asexual nature and egotistical tendencies.
Amy’s persistence in light of overwhelming evidence suggesting that Sheldon will never be able to return her affections to the level that she wants and needs can sometimes seem like a lesson in emotional masochism. As a viewer, there are moments when I wonder why she doesn’t tell him to go fly a kite or something less polite.
But then, Sheldon finally makes a move in the right direction, and I swoon.
Because of how strongly his personality is fixed, Sheldon’s glacial progress towards an intimate relationship with Amy is so worth it. Every tiny step he takes that brings them closer feels like a major triumph, for both Amy and the viewer. Something as simple as holding Amy’s hand feels like a declaration of love shouted from the rooftops.
Too, given the pure innocence and lack of experience shared by both Amy and Sheldon, these baby steps represent the genuine “first time” that you so seldom see when dealing with adult TV couples. Sheldon’s genuine surprise and delight in discovering the pleasures of intimacy makes your toes curl. It also gives you hope that despite his loud and frequent protestations that he finds sex and kissing to be icky, he’s on a slow and steady trajectory leading in that very direction.
I’m not in any hurry for that to happen, mind you, but I like knowing that it’s a possibility. For me, it’s what “will-they-or-won’t-they” is really all about.
If you haven’t been watching The Big Bang Theory, here is a list of key Amy and Sheldon episodes:
- Sheldon meets Amy Farrah Fowler after a dating website chooses her as his perfect match – The Lunar Excitation S3 Ep 23
- The First Date – The Robotic Manipulation S4 Ep 1
- Sheldon and Amy break up – The Zazzy Subsitution S4 Ep 3
- Sheldon meets Amy’s mom – The Desperation Emanation S4 Ep 5
- Spreading juicy rumors – The Herb Garden Germination S4 Ep 20
- The episode in which Sheldon “would not object to us no longer characterizing