NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Big Bang Theory” are present in this review
After taking two weeks off, The Big Bang Theory returned to the airwaves this week, with, “The Meemaw Materialization.” Yes, as the title suggests, we’re finally meeting Sheldon’s oft-mentioned grandmother, Meemaw, nine years into the series! The timing is all the more appropriate as well, now that Sheldon and Amy have mended their broken relationship.
Unfortunately though, as great as the episode’s concept was, its execution feels botched. “The Meemaw Materialization” sadly ended up being a pretty disappointing episode because of this, with weird, forced character turns that didn’t really feel like they made sense, and a reasonably funny subplot with Raj that would have had more impact, had Raj’s relationship with Emily actually come to the forefront more often.
Obviously though, the big draw this week is Meemaw, who comes to Pasadena to see Sheldon and Leonard. Apparently, Meemaw has visited off-screen in the past, since even Penny has met her before, though Amy, for whatever reason, has never met Meemaw. Only now is Amy meeting Meemaw for the first time, and to Sheldon’s surprise, Meemaw isn’t too fond of his new girlfriend.
This could have been an interesting scenario, but the episode sadly goes for the most obvious and tired of jokes and cliches with this subplot. Most of the jokes surrounding Meemaw are typical, network TV-approved senior citizen humour, referencing her ‘grandma’ smell and giving her plane pilot a butterscotch, and of course, Meemaw had a disagreeable husband that she had to keep in line. Even Meemaw’s dislike of Amy feels tired and predictable, simply because that’s what so many comedy grandparents have done with characters’ partners in the past.
That’s really the biggest problem with the Meemaw storyline in fact; Meemaw’s dislike of Amy feels like it comes completely out of nowhere, and happens for no real reason. Even when Meemaw explains her apprehension about Amy later in the episode, it makes no sense, since Meemaw talks to Amy as if Amy broke Sheldon’s heart, and carelessly broke up with him for flimsy reasons. Um, no. Sheldon completely deserved that break-up, and Sheldon is completely to blame for most of their relationship problems. Given that the episode begins with Meemaw keeping Sheldon in line in terms of how he treats Leonard, why would Meemaw suddenly blame Amy for something that is clearly Sheldon’s doing? It just doesn’t add up.
Further compounding the episode’s difficulties is Meemaw blurting out to Amy that Sheldon had an engagement ring for her, which feels awkwardly tossed into the episode at random. Maybe the idea was to catch audiences off-guard, since we no doubt didn’t expect Amy to learn about the ring until later, but it just reeked of the show not having a better excuse for Amy to learn about the ring, without Sheldon actually proposing. Eventually, Sheldon talks sense into Meemaw, and Meemaw gives Sheldon and Amy her blessing, but this puts the two in a confusing position. Are they engaged now? If they’re not, doesn’t that deflate the stakes of Sheldon’s inevitable marriage proposal later, since Amy already knows that he has a ring? I guess these are problems for the show to solve another day.
Fortunately, the subplot with Raj, Howard and Bernadette turned out a bit better, though it had a few annoyances of its own. This plot is founded on Raj meeting an attractive young woman named Claire in the comic book store with Howard. Turns out, Claire is a screenwriter who wants to write an animated sci-fi movie for kids, and when she learns that Raj is an astrophysicist, she wants to get coffee with him, and ask questions about how to make the movie scientifically plausible to some degree.
Where this subplot succeeded was in having Raj regress into his old tendency of immediately imagining marriage and commitment to a woman, simply because they were friendly to him. This in turn makes him question his commitment to Emily, again, which would have meant more, had Emily actually shown up on this series on a semi-regular basis, not simply whenever the show felt like it. The jokes that Howard and Bernadette make at Raj’s expense are pretty funny though, and the episode’s conclusion of Raj imagining a future where he has married and had children with Claire, and still hasn’t told Emily about it, is at least an amusing way to close out proceedings.
I’m not sure if Claire is a one-off, or if the show is setting her up to be a competing love interest for Raj. I wouldn’t be surprised if Raj eventually leaves Emily for Claire, since it seems like The Big Bang Theory has barely known what to do with Emily up to this point. Maybe that’s why a change-up for Raj’s girlfriend might be in order. That’s not guaranteed though, and Claire could just as easily end up being just a friend, or not being seen again past this episode. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Like I said though, it’s disappointing to have, “The Meemaw Materialization” end up being such a let-down, not only because of The Big Bang Theory taking two weeks off beforehand, but also because the long-awaited debut of Meemaw ended up being such a dud. The challenge to Raj’s relationship felt at least a bit more interesting, but Amy learning of Sheldon’s engagement plans felt clumsy, and it definitely should have been Sheldon being taken to task over that break-up , not Amy. Pair that with much of the humour feeling predictable and shallow outside of the Raj plot, and you have an episode that sadly serves as a low point for the otherwise strong Season Nine so far. Better luck next week, The Big Bang Theory.
- Sheldon still has some decent funny moments
- Raj's old desperation with women resurfacing
- Meemaw humour feels tired and predictable
- Meemaw blaming Amy for the break-up makes no sense
- Relationship complications for Sheldon and Raj feel forced