The Big Bang Theory is a newish sitcom from Chuck Lorre, best known for Two and a Half Men(cue chorus of groans and growls). Like that show, it has plenty to object to, notably the two lead characters, both white male physicists. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is the audience surrogate for the Nice Guys in the audience, with all that entails. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) clearly has Aspereger’s and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and we are encouraged to laugh at him for this. Their friends include Howard (Simon Helberg), who is Jewish and lives with his mother, and Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar), who is from India and whose domineering parents have left him unable to speak in a woman’s presence.
The object of Leonard’s unspoken affections (we knew this was coming, of course) is Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who had moved into the apartment across the hall. She quickly befriends Leonard and Rajesh (despite his inability to talk around her), while tolerating Sheldon and Howard.
And here we get to the part that surprised me: Penny doesn’t take crap. Every time Howard hits on her or makes a double entendre in her presence, she politely but firmly tells him to stop, but becomes actively threatening whenever he doesn’t get the message. Whenever Sheldon condescends to her, she calls him out on it. When the male characters condescend to her about assembling the entertainment center she just bought, she quietly assembles it lwhile they posture to each other about the best course of action.
The show as a whole is full of sexist material, and I certainly am not recommending it, but Penny is an unusual bright spot in the morass that is American sitcom TV.