When The Big Bang Theory first aired in 2007, nothing seemed more unlikely than Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) ever having sex. To some, even after five years of dating, Sheldon’s decision in Thursday night’s episode to “have coitus” with Amy (Mayim Bialik) on her birthday might still seem like a breach of character. But its execution was believable, funny, and earnest all at once. And, true to form, the show found a clever way to work Thursday’s Star Wars premiere—and another Bob Newhart guest appearance.
Sheldon and Amy’s recent breakup and reunification have strengthened their connection and helped Sheldon realize that he can’t keep acting as selfish as he has in the past. In this episode, when Penny reminds him that Amy’s birthday coincides with Star Wars’ opening night, Sheldon of course initially wants to see the movie. But after some soul searching—with help from a reluctant Bob Newhart in Jedi robes—he decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and spend the night with Amy instead. After running a few options by Penny and Bernadette, Sheldon decides “Amy’s present will be my genitals.” When the big night finally comes, their timid steps into physical intimacy are juxtaposed with his friends’ ecstatic movie-going experience. It’s hard to tell who enjoyed themselves more.
Perhaps the best aspect of how the show executed Sheldon and Amy’s portion of the plot was how earnestly it was handled. There were no giggly jokes at the expense of their lack of experience. All of the laughs were rooted in their very relatable nervousness. In fact, by the looks of it, both turned out to be better than even they expected at pleasuring one another—despite having no idea what to expect. Here, instead of laughing at Sheldon and Amy’s expense, the show gave us a set of tender experiences almost anyone can relate to—demonstrating that these two might be having sex later than most people, but that’s the only difference between their sexuality and everyone else’s. OK, and there’s also the fact that they’ve agreed that this will be a once-annually activity to celebrate Amy’s birthday. But, you know, baby steps.