When Big Bang Theory executive producer Steve Holland told me earlier this fall that Raj’s storyline with a new love interest was going to “play out over the course of the season,” I was skeptical. Actually, it was more than that: I was disappointed.
With Sheldon and Amy now wed, Penny and Leonard in their third year of marriage, and Bernadette and Howard managing two kids, I thought pairing up Raj for the final season felt a little like checking off a to-do list. Plus, if the writers wanted a happy ending for Raj, why does that have to mean an engagement or marriage? That’s not to say I don’t want Raj to find someone or be happy, but I love how relatable the relationships on Big Bang are. And in 2018, it’s extremely relatable for romance/love/engagement to take longer for some. So why rush it with Raj?
When I asked Holland if he was open to Raj not ending up with anyone by series end, Holland started by saying, “I try not to…” before adding that “no matter what ending we do, we’ll upset somebody somehow. We’re just trying to focus on an ending that feels right to us and hopefully people will like it.”
Well, surprisingly—shockingly—I’m on board with Raj and Anu. The introduction of Anu (played by Rati Gupta) has been an energy shot the show needed going into its final season. She’s real, smart, and interesting. She doesn’t have time for BS—from Raj or anyone else. She’s looking for a grown-up relationship, and she’s tired of waiting for 30-something boys to become 30-something men.
While I still wish Raj and Anu could have been introduced by their parents without the pressure of it leading to an arranged marriage, I am excited to see where this could go. And apparently it’s going to a Valentine’s Day 2019 wedding date, which was jarring to hear. (Really, you two? It has to be that soon?) Still, I’m finding myself bored whenever Anu and Raj aren’t the focus of an episode. (Case in point: last week’s.)
Tonight’s episode—titled “The Consummation Deviation”—started with Raj making sure his friends would be free on February 14 and willing to fly to India for the ceremony. It’ll be interesting to see if that date actually comes to fruition, but let’s not worry about that yet. As we saw in the latest episode, there are other momentous occasions to get to first.
Starting with the moment when Anu matter-of-factly tells Raj they should have sex. He almost runs off the road, but that may be because he’s more worried about being naked following a salt-heavy dinner than actually doing it with Anu for the first time. Anu clears things up and says she doesn’t mean right now, but it’s important to her that they know they’re compatible before getting married. Uh, maybe make sure you’re compatible before you tell all your friends about a wedding date? But that’s just me.
Anu says she’ll get a room at her hotel this weekend—remember, she’s a concierge—but Raj privately goes into panic mode. Later at Leonard’s apartment, he confesses to the guys (minus Sheldon) that he’s pretty anxious because this is the woman he’s going to marry. What if he’s no good? “Do we sign up for a lifetime of mediocre sex?” he asks. It’s obviously not the first time Raj has had sex, but the stakes are high.
The guys are not much help, so Raj joins Bernadette and Penny for wine time to mull it over. “She’s probably nervous, too,” Penny says. Raj doesn’t believe her, but that’s not the point. He’s worried he’s not as skilled as he’s made himself out to be in past sexual encounters. Plus, Anu is Indian as well, so she’s going to know there’s no position called the “screeching lotus.” (Oh, Raj.)
The weekend apparently comes very fast because in the next scene, Raj is in the hotel room and having a freakout with Penny over the phone. Penny tells Raj that her first time with Leonard wasn’t that great, which is a hilarious nod to Leonard’s earlier comments that their first time was so good he plays it over and over in his head. If that was supposed to make Raj feel better, it doesn’t.
Anu walks in—and in a tip of the hat to the Raj of years past, he suddenly can’t talk in the presence of a woman. Anu is understandably confused as Raj runs to the bathroom, shuts the door, and pops open a bottle of champagne.
When Raj later emerges—tipsy, of course—Anu wants to know what is going on. When Raj fails to tell her what the issue is, she says she’s going to leave. He begs her not to, but she demands the truth. “Oh, the truth is so not good for me,” he pleads before finally admitting that he used to be so insecure around women that he couldn’t talk. He assures Anu that he’s not that same person, but “I guess I wanted so much for tonight to go well that I stressed myself out.” What’s ironic is that Raj and Anu entered into this arranged relationship hoping to avoid the pitfalls of typical relationships, but also realizing they’re not fail-proof either.
Anu asks Raj why he didn’t tell her this before, but he admits he was embarrassed. Instead of saying “why?” or “that’s ridiculous,” she says, “I get it,” which both validates his feelings and creates another level of trust between them. “If it makes you feel better, I’ve got things I’m embarrassed about, too.” While I was hoping for a profound reveal from Anu, it turns out her “embarrassment” is simply that she doesn’t like music. “What kind of music?” Raj asks. “Just all of it,” she says.
The comic relief comes when Raj wants to know if Beyoncé is the exception—specifically “Single Ladies”—but Anu tells him that even she doesn’t make the cut. “My point is, we both have our little eccentricities,” she says. “Little eccentricities?” Raj wonders. “One is a deep-seeded psychological disturbance and the other can be solved by half a glass of chardonnay.” They laugh and immediately start making out. Have I mentioned I love these two?
The next morning, Raj is still wearing his same clothes, and it’s obvious all they did was stay up all night and talk. “Last night was wonderful,” Anu tells Raj. He’s a bit confused since the night didn’t go as planned, but she assures him that getting to know each other on a deeper level was great. Also, she assumes that the fact that he could talk to her all night—while in bed—is a good sign for their marriage. “Yeah, and my liver,” Raj jokes.
Raj then says maybe they should wait to have sex another time, but Anu has another plan. “Or, I take a shower and you decide how you want to play this,” she says. It takes a confused Raj a minute to realize exactly what Anu is implying until she pops her head out of the bathroom and instructs him to “take a shower with me, Raj!” He quickly jumps out of bed and joins Anu in the shower.
By all accounts, perhaps Anu is too mature for Raj. Or perhaps Raj needs someone who appreciates Beyoncé in all her glory. But whatever the case, this feels real. And I’m here for it.