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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Big Bang Theory: “The Egg Salad Equivalency”

Illustration for article titled The Big Bang Theory: “The Egg Salad Equivalency”
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Sheldon Cooper is not a good person. He treats people like shit and expects them to worship him for it, and when they don’t, he responds with aggression, rather than trying to understand conflicting points of view. What began as a lovably aloof and pleasantly awkward character has become the major villain of this series, giving the rest of the cast something to fight against in order to move their characters forward. Sheldon is evolving too, but he’s just turning into an even bigger asshole. This week, he gets what’s been a long time coming when his assistant Alex goes to the university’s Human Resources department after a particularly cringe-worthy discussion with her boss, pitting Sheldon against guest star Regina King in a hilarious verbal face-off.

“The Egg Salad Equivalency” is one of the strongest episodes of The Big Bang Theory’s six seasons, reaching Curb Your Enthusiasm levels of awkwardness when Sheldon tells Alex that “a woman is like an egg salad sandwich on a warm Texas day: full of eggs and only appealing for a short time” and calls the black HR woman Jeanine a slave. It all begins when Alex visits Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment so that she can transcribe eight hours of Sheldon rambling in his sleep; she asks Leonard on a dinner date so that they can talk about the Kip Thorne lecture she’s attending, and the invitation inflates Leonard’s ego to a point that is unacceptable to his insane roommate.

The next day at work, Leonard brags about how good it feels to have a young attractive woman sniffing around the goods (gross), and his posturing forces Sheldon to take drastic measures. He turns to his “Council of Ladies” (Penny’s response: “What is happening?”) and tries to tell them the situation using fake names for the involved parties: Leonard is Ricardo Shilly-Shally, Alex is TondeLaya della Ventimiglia, and Sheldon is, of course, Einstein Von Brainstorm. The girls immediately figure out what’s actually happening, sending Penny into a rage as she learns that not only is her boyfriend being flirted with, but he’s enjoying it immensely and making sure everyone knows it. The girls tell Sheldon that he needs to sit down and have a serious conversation with Alex, but when he does, things go horribly wrong.

Sheldon and Amy’s conversation is easily one of the most uncomfortable scenes this show has ever produced, beginning with Sheldon’s icky line, “Your ovaries are squirting so much goofy juice into your brain that you don’t know which way is up.” He accuses Alex of making an unwelcome sexual advance on Leonard, and then moves into the aforementioned egg salad comparison before trying to excuse Alex’s behavior by telling her that from an evolutionary standpoint, she’s a slave to her desire to reproduce. And it gets worse. He then tries to curb that desire by showing her pictures of people suffering from various STDs, educating her in the most horrible way possible and sending her flying out of his office and straight to HR.

The great thing about this episode is that it forces Sheldon to deal with a figure who not only has power over him, but isn’t willing to put up with any of his bullshit. Regina King is perfectly cast as Jeanine, consistently shooting down Sheldon with just a glance, and it’s oh-so-refreshing to see him put in his place. He tries to avoid punishment by throwing Howard, Raj, and Leonard under the bus, telling Jeanine about their inappropriate conduct at the workplace, but the only result is that the other three men get to join Sheldon in Human Resources the next morning. It would have been nice to see what happened after the four nerds enter Jeanine’s office, but this show can only fit so much awkward into 22 minutes.

In order to get back in Penny’s good graces, Leonard plays a song on the cello telling her that he’s sorry Alex is attracted to him, and somehow, that actually works. With Penny suddenly the insecure one in the couple, Leonard is both confused and pleased by the change in their dynamic, although there’s a noticeable lack of chemistry when he wraps his arm around Penny to comfort her. Their relationship has always seemed like one built on convenience rather than passion, especially on Penny’s side, and while it’s nice to see Penny show more vulnerability, there’s still the feeling that the two characters don’t really connect on a personal level. Granted, those types of relationships happen all the time in real life, and watching the two try to improve their relationship is endearing, even if it’s just in the form of a pair of fake glasses Penny buys to look smarter.


In the end, Sheldon proves himself to be a horrible friend and an even worse boss. He apologizes to Alex for his offensive comments and tells her that he has to take a mandatory online sexual harassment course, then proceeds to say that he doesn’t have time for that and would like Alex to take it for him. It would be a great plot development if Sheldon lost his job at the university because he’s completely incompetent in a social setting, and he definitely deserves it after this episode. Maybe if Sheldon hits rock bottom, he’ll finally learn his lesson and become a better person, but that will probably never happen.

Stray observations:

  • I used to work in a bar that had a giant Jenga, and the threat of lumber falling on you really does make it more fun.
  • Raj has a point when it comes to male cereal mascots. Where’s the “Equality on Cereal Boxes” movement?
  • There’s definitely some pot-kettle action happening when Sheldon tells Leonard that he can’t tell a uterus from a unicycle.
  • Howard’s reaction to Raj talking with his eyes: “You look like my little cousin when he’s dropping one in his diaper.”
  • “Say the word. I got a lab full of cocaine-addicted monkeys who have nothing to lose. One of them could end up in the backseat of her car. Or her shower.”
  • “He’s strutting around like he’s five-foot-six.”
  • “Don’t play dumb with me, Ricardo Shilly-Shally!”
  • Sheldon: “And just yesterday, I led her away from away from a life of sexual promiscuity by making her look at pictures of disease-ridden genitalia.” (Silence.) Jeanine: “Cancel my next appointment; this is going to take a while.”
  • “In his defense, that wasn’t racist. He’s also brown.”