At the start of this season of The Big Bang Theory, executive producer Steve Holland told Glamour.com that the writers were working on an episode about the challenges of parenthood. And in tonight’s episode—”The Grant Allocation Derivation”—we saw just how far some (hi, Bernadette!) are willing to go to escape the chaos.
The bulk of the story was devoted to Leonard having to choose which colleague to distribute extra grant money to for their work project. The assignment—by President Siebert, who shockingly still has a job—put Leonard in a hard place, as friends and colleagues made his life miserable demanding they receive the grant money. Personally, I kind of checked out for most of this one. Bring back Inspector Gadget Leonard and then we’ll talk.
That’s because the real highlight of the episode was Bernadette using Halley and Michael’s playhouse as a hideaway from her kids. Sure, the plot seemed a little redundant (example A), but it also rang true. Most parents, babysitters, even grandparents have wanted to escape the rigors of childcare at one point. It’s exhausting.
Some parents look at their office job as somewhat of a breather, but that’s hardly the equivalent of “me” time. The work/home life cycle never ends, so it’s understandable if you suddenly find yourself eating a Twinkie and drinking boxed wine in a four-sided plastic playhouse. When Bernadette returns home from an overwhelming day at the office and hears Howard freaking out with the kids, she takes action. The solution is simple: call her husband from the playhouse and tell him she’s stuck at work. “He deserves better,” she tells herself after hanging up the phone and putting her feet up.
The next day at work, though, Bernadette tells Penny she’s worried she’s an awful person for lying to Howard. “It’s just work has been crazy and sometimes I don’t want babies pulling my hair and pinching my baby fat,” she says. “I love my kids, but that hour to myself just makes me feel human again.” How can you argue with that?
Penny doesn’t, because the next day she’s so stressed out by Leonard (who’s stressed out by his grants responsibilities) that she joins Bernadette for wine time in the playhouse. Then, in a scene we’ve seen over and over again—but who cares, because Mayim Bialik is genius—Amy suspects Penny and Bernadette are hanging out without her and nabs an invitation.
At the end of the episode, Howard puts the kids to bed and joins Raj in the outdoor hot tub; Raj hears a noise and is alarmed someone’s in the playhouse. Of course, Howard knows it’s Bernadette but doesn’t have the heart to burst her bubble. “She’s been hiding out in there all week,” he tells Raj. “She’s overwhelmed at work, and frankly me and the kids are a lot. She needs downtime.”
He tells Raj that he purposely pretends he’s none the wiser because that’s how marriage works. In fact, Howard lied about getting life insurance three years ago, so now he think they’re even. Seems to me that lying about life insurance is a much bigger deal than playing hooky in a toddler’s playhouse, but then again, kids haven’t made me crazy…yet.