When Art and Life Collide

Last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory was the show’s first in 2014. It had its funny moments (not counting Sheldon’s definition wordplay) and its not so funny moments (Leonard and Penny). The writers and producers made certain not to debut 2014 lightly, but instead with a substantive episode interwoven with real life discussions and heartbreaks.

Will Penny make it as an actress after a decade of pursuing her dream?

Does Leonard honestly think Penny will make it as a successful actress?

One important distinction made last night was the primary difference between a drama and a comedy. Specifically, consider when someone says there is a “one in a million” chance something will happen. In a comedy, like Dumb and Dumber, that’s a punchline filled with hilarious delusion. In a dramatic situation (even within a situation comedy), the “one in a million” response is a metaphorical, and partly literal, punch to the gut to the recipient.

The only delusion of the latter is the harsh reality of contemplating just how large the number one million is and how small the number one is in comparison. And then understanding who represents the number one.


The event that led to the “one in a million” talk between Leonard and Penny was when her small diner part in NCIS with star Mark Harmon was edited out from the show. It didn’t make the final cut. Leonard and Penny discussed the realistic prospects of her future as an actress and the results were nowhere nearly as pretty as Penny herself.

The show ended with Leonard and Penny’s argument (and future) unresolved. But here is where the show got really interesting.

While reading Chuck Lorre’s weekly Vanity Card at the end of the episode, which can range from funny to thought-provoking to inappropriate, there was an instant realization that his message was as substantive as the episode itself. It was simultaneously real and surreal.

That’s truly rare and it deserves to be expanded upon.

Without a word-for-word recap, the message detailed how Penny’s part in a major CBS show (NCIS) was cut in the final edit and, therefore, did not air. Her excited friends and family, sadly, did not see her “big break” that she had worked ten years for in Los Angeles. Ironically (and unbelievably) the exact same thing happened in last night’s Big Bang Theory episode! An actress who had a small part with Raj and Stewart in the mall was cut in the final edit. It was going to be her big break, very likely with her family and friends gathered together to watch her act in one of the biggest shows on television.

Unfortunately, her part (like Penny’s) was cut in the final edit. However, Big Bang co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre made sure to let America (and the world) know in his Vanity Card that he wanted to apologize to the actress and that it was only because of time that her part was not included in the show’s final version. He made certain to note to her and her family and friends that she absolutely nailed the part. He then added that he will work hard to get her back on the show sometime in the future.


It’s a case of life imitating art or art imitating life or art and life getting an apartment together in downtown Pasadena to enjoy a glass (or bottle) or white wine before their next audition.

Either way, it was real, surreal, heart-breaking, inspiring and unbelievably amazing all at the same time.

In the episode, Sheldon, in his quest for comedic dominance, stated that “comedy is tragedy plus time” after Penny left the room following her realization that her part was taken out of the show.

It seems Chuck Lorre waited the exact right amount of time to say something that turned a tragedy into something not necessarily funny, but still something that likely brought joy and a smile to a dedicated and disappointed actress’s face.

Funny how life turns out from time to time.


Posted on January 3, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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