Dear Chuck (Lorre) and Bill (Prady):
An early season four episode of Gilmore Girls has this exchange between Luke and Lorelai:
Luke: We’ve been here before.
Lorelai: I recognize that tree.
The purpose of this letter is not to revisit the on-again/off-again legendary romance from one of my favorite shows, but I use that particular exchange to illustrate something that’s been bugging me about another of my favorite shows, your very own The Big Bang Theory. I have watched the show long enough that I do have the particular story arcs or characters that bug me (Leonard & Penny’s relationship?); those are not issues I wish to address here today because I see in them the evolution from season one to season nine. While I see Leonard and Penny (finally) moving forward, as are Sheldon and Amy (also finally), one character and his evolution on the show have come to a screeching halt and it’s time to address the issue: Raj. I feel like I’ve seen this tree before and, frankly, I’m a little tired of it.
One of the aspects of BBT that made it unique at first was the characters; nerds and geeks and the like have been part of our stories in all areas. The awkward young man (or woman) has been a common trope, though what that looks like has evolved with our culture. BBT has characters that embody all of the common sitcom characters: the overbearing know-it-all (Sheldon), the ladies’ man (Howard), the sexy siren (Penny), the lovable Everyman (Leonard), and the awkward ‘ugly duckling’ that becomes a swan in due time (Raj). The departure came in that BBT infused aspects of the awkward into all of the main characters – perhaps with the exception of Penny – and hit a nerve because we all knew people like that. For myself, I always liked Raj the most because he was the one who seemed the most real: he wasn’t apologetic about what he liked, he seldom had illusions about himself, and he genuinely tried to be a friend to everyone, no matter how unlikeable that person could be at that moment. It seems, though, that the development of Raj as a character has stalled in these recent seasons, a concern I felt I should share.
You know how Raj has changed over time. First, the joke was that she couldn’t talk to women at all and, then finally, he gained the power of speech, just in time for delightful bonding with Penny, Amy, and Bernadette. Even though it has been noted time and again how Raj’s metrosexuality has been mistaken for an ersatz form of homosexuality, the show has taken care not to mock the LGBT community, but Raj’s at-times effeminate side has made for some good comedy. While you guys might poke fun at Raj’s affections for things like Sex and the City and Bridget Jones’ Diary, you’ve given him room to move forward toward finding a girlfriend – finally! I was really rooting for Lucy and Raj, but understood why their relationship had to end; the awkwardness between the two of them would have been too difficult to maintain long-term. I even had hope that Raj and Emily would be last a bit longer than this. Now, though, that Raj has ended things with Emily and is flirting with Claire, can you please, please, please, PLEASE let Raj and Claire get together and stay together? Can you please let Raj take that last step that nearly every other character on the show has taken and settle down?
I anticipate that season 10, which is the last season you all have a contact for with CBS, will be BBT’s last. That’s good; Friends lasted about the same amount of time and, frankly, with the directions you’ve taken Howard, Sheldon, and Leonard, I don’t see you getting anything more out of another season or two beyond the next one. At least, not if you expect people to still watch the show. Perhaps you already plan on having Raj settle down and, if so, that’s cool. I just need you to know that I’m starting to wonder if Claire is another one of those trees and, as a concerned fan, Raj doesn’t need another tree like that one. I’m not sure what sort of herbal metaphor would work here, but insert one that seems most appropriate, preferably not one that Cinnamon will pee on.
Please, Chuck and Bill, just send Raj off in a new direction. To put it in physics terms, lay off the inertia already, will you? Be the outside force that pushes Raj into a new direction. If Sheldon can change and find someone and even commit to her, why can’t Raj? Committed relationships can be just as funny as the dating scene, as you already know. Don’t leave Raj alone as the seventh wheel, especially not with Howard and Bernadette expecting. Please tell me that’s a different kind of tree up ahead?
Jennifer, TBBT Fan