The Tail Wag: Sheldon Hugs Leonard on The Big Bang Theory

Every Sunday morning at 11am, The Tail Wag examines something that made me happy in the past week.

The Big Bang Theory is insanely popular, which means that a lot of people hate it. Isn’t that how things go in 2014?

If you reach critical mass, there will be a significant portion of the culture that will hate for the sake of hating. It’s why LeBron is the best basketball player alive and deals with hates. It’s why Fall Out Boy puts out great albums that get zero love from the music critics.

The Big Bang Theory is not exactly a revolutionary television show. It’s just a really good sitcom. It is not the brilliance of Review, the wit of Archer or the absurdity of Community. It also does about 10 ten times the weekly audience of the critically adored Parks & Recreation.

There are two things about the show that deserve special praise. First, is the transcendent performance by Jim Parsons – I advise you to watch the pilot to witness how Parsons encapsulated everything about Sheldon Cooper in the first 23 minutes. The show really shouldn’t work – its premise turned me off and I didn’t get on board until season 3. But it does and mostly due to Sheldon.

sheldon hugs leonard
However, the second thing is even more remarkable – the show has revealed a tremendous amount of growth for a sitcom. Sheldon has a girlfriend. Wolowitz has a wife. Leonard and Penny are a couple, finally past the annoying “Will they or won’t they?” stage. Yet the show is still funny and still producing great episodes.

While not every single one is still great, this week’s episode provided a legitimately touching moment that shouldn’t really be accomplished in a sitcom in 2014. But Sheldon’s childhood hero, Professor Proton passed away – played impeccably by Bob Newhart.

In a rare moment of human emotion and connection, Sheldon hugged his best friend Leonard after the funeral.

It made me smile. It’s always good to appreciate your best friends.

The whole episode reminded me of my favorite Scrubs episode – My Life in Four Cameras – that skewered sitcom tropes until J.D. revealed at the end it was a nice thing to come home to after a tough day.

It explains why so many people watch the Big Bang Theory.