The Big Bang Theory is officially ending after the current season, meaning we’ll have to say goodbye to our favourite science geeks – and Penny – once and for all. Well, until the constant re-runs begin.
And, as much as I’ve chuckled along with Raj, made fun of Howard, and shook my head at Sheldon, there is one character I really couldn’t get on board with.
Leonard Leakey Hofstadter.
The rest of the characters have gone through some form of growth since the first episode zapped onto our screens, way back in 2007. Sheldon has let people in to his inner sanctum, he’s got married, he’s even stopped knocking on the door three times before entering a room. Even Howard the sex pest has calmed his horny self down into a settled dad-of-two.
So why has Leonard almost gone backwards?
When the show started, the character – played by Johnny Galecki – was introduced to us all as an insecure but ultimately kind-hearted, loveable nerd who cared a lot about science, and even more about his friends.
However, after he finally gets with Penny in series three (we’d had two whole years of will-they, won’t-they before this), he changes almost instantly. He becomes whiny and obsessive when she mentions a friend she used to date will be sleeping on her sofa for a little bit. Yes, fine, it’s not an ideal situation, but most people would have a chat about it before jumping straight to the worst conclusion and issuing ultimatums. Not Leonard, who eventually guilts Penny into making Justin stay on his own sofa, basically so he can control the whole situation. A bit weird from someone you’ve only really been dating a couple of weeks…
Skip forward a few seasons – and a couple of break ups – and the pair are finally in a stable relationship and on their way to Las Vegas to get married on a whim. But the pre-wedding bliss doesn’t last long as Leonard decides to tell Penny he cheated on her, and kissed Mandy Chow on a voyage he went on to the North Sea. Yes, not only did he cheat on her, he decided the best time to come clean was not at the time, but instead on the way to their wedding. Are you kidding me?! And it turns out that, not only did he snog another woman – and lie about it – he still worked with Mandy Chow and basically saw her every day.
He also made a dig at his new bride while implying he hurt his back carrying her over the threshold of their hotel room. You have literally just told your wife you cheated on her, maybe put a pin in the fat-shaming. Or, y’know, don’t do it all. Any of this would be a dumpable – and divorceable – offence, but then you add in the fact that he went off the deep end at the mere thought of Penny working with her ex, Zach, despite knowing full well she actually hated her job and was unhappy. There is insecure and then there is just plain pathetic.
Leonard is almost awkwardly desperate to prove that he loves Penny more than she loves him. We get it, she’s the cool woman you pined over for years and you’re now married, it might be time to stop bringing it up, hun. But no. At one point, he’s so hell bent on showing how well he knows her that he confesses to reading her diary. Her. Diary. But he then puts on an orange negligee that she hated and she forgives him. I get it’s a TV show, I am all for a bit of artistic license, but come on?! Joe from You has shown us all how you deal with creepy, overbearing partners (sort of), and it isn’t like this.
I get that Penny is in no way perfect either. In fact, that’s a whole rabbit hole we don’t have to go down because it’s pretty obvious, but he tries to undermine, patronise and control her with every step, even going so far as to hide money in a separate bank account so that she can’t spend it frivolously. You don’t want her to waste money on shoes? Fine. But don’t hide stuff from your wife, and bring Sheldon, who long-term viewers know can’t deal with lying, into the whole thing too. In an earlier season, he gifted her with a car when her own broke down – so she could drive herself to and from auditions – but later got upset when she was given a company car at a new job and thoughtfully gave him the money back. This is the same woman who you hid money from because you didn’t want her to waste it, but you don’t want her to repay her debts? Make your mind up.
It’s not just Penny that he is increasingly mean to. He takes every single opportunity to dig Sheldon out. Yes, Sheldon is annoying, bossy, controlling – basically Leonard in a Flash t-shirt to be honest – but you’re a grown man with a decent job, who happens to earn enough to buy people cars as gifts, I’m pretty sure you can afford to move out if you wanted to. On top of all this, he slept with Raj’s sister Priya, despite knowing one of his so-called best friends was uncomfortable with the whole thing. And then he goes and cheats on her – the interesting, cool lawyer who is related to one of his aforementioned best friends – and kisses a random girl from the comic book shop, before whining and moping that life is so unfair. Because of course he does.
Leonard Hofstadter might be a lot of things, but character goals he damn well isn’t.
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