On Thursday's episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Collaboration Fluctuation," Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) worked together on a project that found the missing link between physics and neuroscience (I think, I never have any idea what they're talking about when they talk about science. I'm just here for the jokes, man). It was their first professional collaboration, and Amy was concerned that work would get in the way of their relationship, because they're both so competitive. But they laid down some ground rules (Sheldon's name goes first on any academic papers) and got to work.
There was a montage of them working in harmony, scribbling on whiteboards while the Turtles' "Happy Together" played. The sequence ended with them not on the same page, though, in a way that foreshadowed what was to come:
The math they came up with didn't add up. They got frustrated and started viciously fighting. While Amy was yelling at him, Sheldon saw a flaw in the math, which led to a breakthrough. They continued to fight, which led to more breakthroughs, and they realized that fighting was sharpening their cognition. The meaner they are, the better their ideas.
The episode was light on physical comedy for The Big Bang Theory, but I like how that high-five/handshake bit set up that Sheldon and Amy working together was going to have challenges. And Sheldon's pat on the head perfectly summarized his condescending attitude toward her.
By the end, they laid down some new ground rules for collaboration:
1. "We are on the same team, but it is a competition."
2. "There are definitely stupid questions, and those who ask them can be told so right to their stupid face."
3. "Fair topics for insult include educational pedigree, scientific field, intellectual prowess and mommas."
If this means Sheldon and Amy are going to be hurling yo momma jokes at each other for the rest of the season, I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I think their collaboration will be fraught enough with their different personalities without adding in them actually being nasty to each other.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8/7c on CBS.
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