Season 10’s second episode of The Big Bang Theory followed two story lines—the guys dealing with the Air Force’s interest in their invention, and Penny letting word of Bernadette’s pregnancy slip at work. If you want a straight recap of the episode, there’s a decent one on Entertainment Weekly’s website. If you want to talk about the show addressing workplace bias against pregnant women, read on!
Bernadette has been hiding her pregnancy at work, and Penny has been her only colleague who knows. While hanging out with Penny and Amy, Bernadette gets a message of congratulations from a guy at the office, which alerts her to the fact that her secret is out.
Amy: Why don’t you want anyone to know?
Bernadette: Because I’m up for a major immunotherapy study, and if they find out I’m pregnant, they might give it to someone else.
Penny: Would they really do that?
Bernadette: I know they would. They did it to Barbara Chen last year when I told everyone she was pregnant.
Eventually, Penny confesses to Bernadette that it was her, and Bernie is so angry that she kicks Penny out of her office.
Amy visits Bernadette at work later with a surprise Happy Meal (super inconspicuous product placement—not!), hoping to find her friend calmer, but instead Bernadette explains why she’s still upset.
Bernadette: … My boss wants to meet with me, and I’m stressing.
Amy: You really think they’re going to start treating you differently?
Bernadette: Are you kidding? I’ve always been treated differently! Look at me. Listen to me. The first thought when you see me isn’t, “That’s a scientist,” it’s “I wonder if her mommy knows where she is.”
By the end of the episode, Bernadette is ready to forgive Penny and visits her to apologize for over-reacting to what she knows was an accidental slip-up. Penny, in turn, apologizes for lying about having blabbed.
Penny: So what’s going on with the research project? Are they going to let you run it?
Bernadette: My boss said he hadn’t decided yet, so I gently reminded him that he’s an old, rich white guy, and I’m a sweet little pregnant lady who’s not afraid to cry in front of a jury.
And one feminist pop culture blogger smiles.
Here’s what I love about this half of this episode:
- I love any time the show focuses on the women, because I especially like Bernadette and Amy.
- I appreciate that the characters have all evolved since the show’s inception, and having two of the show’s pairs married and one expecting a child is evidence of that.
- It is so refreshing to see a sitcom doing more with a pregnancy storyline than the standard morning sickness / weird cravings / weight gain / horny hormone monster shtick I’m sick of. (Although they aren’t excluding these things necessarily—just adding another note.)
At the end of the episode, the guys headed off to their new, classified lab to begin working on refining their gyroscope for the Air Force. While packing boxes, they mused about the long hours they’d be logging for the next two months. Leonard mock-worried that Penny will notice that his french toast is the only thing keeping her in the marriage when he doesn’t have time to cook her breakfast. I hope that line and Bernadette’s story in this episode lay a foundation for some interesting dynamics amongst the group when three of the guys disappear into high-stress work, leaving Raj and the girls to cope without them. (I suspect that their absence will make life easier for the most part.)