'The Big Bang Theory': Why is Leonard with Priya?


Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Yes, she’s hot. Like, ridiculously hot. Out-of-Leonard’s-league hot. I realize this, fellow Big Bang Theory fans. But that can’t possibly be the only reason that Leonard is interested in Raj’s sister Priya, right? After spending three seasons watching Penny and Leonard’s will-they-won’t-they-wow-they-just-did-now-what?, I’ll admit I was curious, and excited, about the prospect of a new love interest for the sitcom’s (much smarter than) everyman. (Not to mention thankful for the the fact that the show’s female perspective was about to get slightly more diverse.) But then the series gave us… Priya. The smart, grounded, practical — and did I mention hot? — Priya. Problem is, in the geeky, eccentric world of Big Bang, practical just doesn’t cut it.

I suppose I understand the idea that like many men, Leonard would seek out his ex-girlfriend’s polar opposite for his next non-World of Warcraft conquest. (It’s the same reason Penny started dating Zack, played with perfect comic timing by Brian Thomas Smith.) Unfortunately, all of Penny and Priya’s opposing traits only make Priya seem that much less appealing. Penny is trustworthy. Based on her demand that Leonard stop being friends with Penny, Priya is not. Penny puts up with — and can be one of — the guys. Priya would rather resume her scheduled date night than participate in Sheldon & Co.’s shenanigans. And, perhaps most importantly, Penny is funny. Priya is most definitely not. (Strange, considering her brother is Raj, the character who often steals scenes with delightful one-liners.)

Now, this is no slam against the actress who plays Priya, Aarti Mann. In fact, she’s playing the part perfectly. The reason Big Bang Theory has Priya is the same reason Friends had Emily: To make us appreciate and pine for the Penny-Leonard romance the same way we appreciated and pined for Ross and Rachel after he met his future (and short-lived) British wife. And it’s working: As of late this season, haven’t you found yourself wondering just when those crazy kids Penny and Leonard will realize they’re meant for each other? After all, Priya is just too normal to exist in Big Bang Theory‘s geek-laced universe.¬†And though we can imagine that Leonard would appreciate some normalcy after being surrounded by his outlandish friends, he’s just not normal enough for normal.

Who else agrees? And why do you think Leonard is with Priya? Is there any other possible reason than to replace Penny with Penny’s polar opposite?

Follow Kate on Twitter: @KateWardEW

Read more:
‘The Big Bang Theory’ recap: Love and Warcraft

Comments (90 total) Add your comment
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  • Anthony

    The writers need to stop bs’in and get Penny and Leonard back together.

    • Indian Dude

      What I want to know is when are the minority guys (Indians) going to get the white women on tv. Its always the white guy who gets the minority girl when he gets bored with the white girls

      • Marianna

        Balki, not an Indian, but a visible minority nontheless of indeterminate Mediteranean background, got the hot white girl all the way back in the ’80’s on Perfect Strangers.

      • lefthook

        Balki was not a minority. He was played by Bronson Pinchot, a white guy. Balki was a white guy. Get a clue Marianna. Indian Dude, you are completely correct in your assessment. White people are threatened when a minority couples with one of their own.

      • Marianna

        Get a clue lefthook. One, I never said Pinchot was an Indian, I said Balki’s character was of indeterminate Mediteranian origin. Two, Pinchot is a stage name. In real life he’s Italian, perhaps not as visible a minority as an Indian dude might be but a Mediteranean visible minority nontheless.
        You entertain me with your white people being threatened by inter-racial infiltration. I’d love to meet the Indian parents delighted with the white girl their son brings home. Where I live, right here in North America where arranged marriages are very much the norm in Indian families, those kind of parents just don’t exist.

      • Italians a minority?

        Marianna, I’m Italian and I’m white according to my appearance and the US census bureau so I don’t understand how Bronson Pinchot would be any different.

        RE: Indian Guy’s comment, I think it goes back to early tribalism. Early humans were more likely to accept a woman of a different tribe into their own because she was not seen as a threat to their power structure. It’s silly that those feelings still exist, but it seems they do.

      • Jack

        John Redcorn had his way with Nancy Gribble right under clueless white guy Dale’s nose for years. Even had a kid. In Texas no less.

      • Marianna

        @Italians a minority?
        I think our difference in understanding is due to US Census and Canadian Census. As a Canadian of Portuguese background I was always given to believe that Italians, Greeks, Portuguese and Maltese – just to name a quick few, were considered Mediteranean and as such were an identifiable minority. Identifiable enough that in the Greater Toronto Area there is presently talk of establishing a Portuguese centric school to combat the abysmal 43% highschool dropout rate currently being experienced by children of Portuguese background. Which is totally ridiculous. Portuguese pride? Pfft. There’s already plenty enough of that and then some to go around. If they want to do something proactive they should park the Children’s Aid on their front doorsteps to thump the value of a good education into their thick heads. But I digress. Wildly. Pinchot is American and if you say that Italians are considered white in the U.S.A., well then, he’s white. My point, if I’m remembering it after all this, is that Balki was most definately not presented as white in the way we know it, he was presented as noticably “other”.

      • Marianna

        @Italians a minority?
        Sorry, I switched the digits on my dropout rate statistic. It’s not 43% it’s 34%. Still abysmal.

      • renegade

        @ Marianna

        White people are not visible minorities. Not in the U.S., and especially not in Canada.

      • Churble

        I’m worry, but haven’t we seen Raj hook up with at least 2 white girls on the show? There was the girl he slept with Season 1 at the halloween party, and more recently he made out with the character played by Danica McKellar after the mixer he went to with Sheldon. Were these women not white enough for you?

    • Hiro Kitty

      A sh!tcom made by morons, for moronic audiences. Have fun with your sh!t sandwich, idiots!

      • cmzhang42

        And THANK YOU, Hiro Kitty for your ill informed, dunderheaded and biased opinion. We all look forward to NOT reading your blog admiring the musing of Michelle Bachmann, too…8-)

      • Marianna

        Duly noted, Charlie. Now that we’ve all had a chance to bask in your special brand of enlightenment you can go back to schtupping your porn star goddesses.

      • kdog

        I assume your parents didn’t love you enough as a child?

      • God

        So funny and true. This show jumped the shark when Leonard started dating penny, it’s starting to get old.

      • oboa

        I think you misspelled your screen name,Hello Kitty.

    • MysterWright

      *To have Priya come *back* in now…

    • dan

      Indian guy you are so insecure. Bernadettes, Howards
      current girlfried dated a black man previously. You need to lighten up TV is filled with examples of black men dating white women. As for me I am glad to see a woman of color as a love interest perhaps its because I am married to a beautiful Indian lady for 25 years and we have 5 children together and its been great I am not interested in blondes the media seems to be to the point of being boring. I am glad Big Bang broke free from the Blonde obsession. I hope the does not offend you. get a life!

    • Jessie Smith

      I like Penny and Leanord. But I have some protestors who like Pryia and Leanord together, I keep and keep telling them maybe Priya is better looking than Penny ( I don’t think that but i don’t want to start and arguement there both equally beautiful) so I say “Penny and Leanord always have and will have feelings for eachother. They make eachother laugh and somile, and Penny knows about how fully his parents are liek Pryia DOES NOT.

  • JacksonsGirl

    I am NOT pining for Leonard and Penny. I want it to be Sheldon and Penny.

    • Justin

      Sheldon and Penny? Even in an alternate universe(no offense, fringe, I love ya!), Sheldon and Penny would be the worst coupling since Rachel and Joey from Friends.

    • J>norman

      Sheldon and Penny have great chemistry, but as far as hooking up?
      That is for the very end of the series. Maybe a final scene where Sheldon is mumbling some scientific jargon while Penny pulls him into the bedroom. Then, screen goes black (like on the Sopanos)

    • Thalia

      I love the idea of Sheldon and Penny so much, but I don’t think that will ever happen. I liked Leonard and Penny together at first, but then the way they were portrayed killed my love for them. I would hate for the same thing to happen to Sheldon and Penny.

    • Chelsea

      I want Sheldon/Penny to get together too. Now now, but eventually. My only issue is finding a way where it wouldn’t totally kill Sheldon and Leonard’s friendship.

      • Jason

        Does Leonard actually like Sheldon?

      • Sue1

        Of course he does, Jason, the show has shown that many times. As far as Penny/Sheldon–it’s like species-splicing.

    • fiveagainstone

      Sheldon and Penny? I can barely tolerate Shamy, I mean Sheldon and Amy. But Sheldon and Penny? No way!

      • shake19


      • Fer.

        Where do they relate at all? Amy and Sheldon were first overbearing because…hell I don’t know what happened in the writer’s mind to make them almost insufferable the first part of season four, but they saw people not liking that characterization, and they changed them.

        Sheldon and Penny are not AT ALL like Shamy, they are complete opposites and they work like a bang.

    • mary

      I see sheldon and Penny together too.

  • Diane

    I wish they would give Priya a little more bite to her character. Have REALLY want to remake Leonard into a normal guy

  • Tom

    Priya is not that good looking. I would not classify her as hot. Penny is much hotter than she is. Though, I must admit that I find Bernadette to be the most attractive amongst the girls on the show. I would love me some Bernadette…

    • I agree

      She has quite a large honker on her. With a nose job she would be pretty.

      • CanDaMan

        Slightly large. C’mon, these are the things that give people character! Maybe even a little bit back ‘there’! She’s still incredibly hot though, like if you were nearing the speed of light on your jet ski . . .

  • nanagrant

    Bring in Sarah Gilbert (Darlene)That would work!

  • Justin

    I have no problem with Leonard dating a hottie(yes, hottie!) like Priya. I like how you mentioned that Aarti Mann is playing Priya perfectly. I definitely agree that she is acting as if Priya is a normal girl who doesn’t get Leonard’s nerdy ways very much. If this is what it takes to get Leonard and Penny(also a hottie) back together, then I say go for it. If it doesn’t work out that way, hey, at least Leonard still has one hot woman to turn to. Go Leonard!!

    • CanDaMan

      A way to keep the payroll ‘in check’ in case anyone wants more money, and (often) billed as a way to keep the story line from becoming stagnant. This common practice keeps everyone ‘in line’, but I feel that it moves the show away from what made it great in the first place. It WAS about a bunch of geeks with only an outside chance at getting the girl. Now, it is ‘Friends – in the computer room’! Evidently they lost the ability to write new material.

  • lizriz

    Personally, have thought Penny and Sheldon from day one. Cue the soft kitty.

  • Candy

    I don’t care who Leonard ends up with but I’m not crazy about Pria and her attitude… and not toward the games either. I stopped liking her when she ‘demanded’ that Penny not be allowed at Leonard’s apartment. WHY?! Penny is friends with Sheldon and it’s his place too… and friends with Raj and Howard and they are always there… What gives her the right to ban Penny? She is awfully insecure! I haven’t liked her since!

    • Zarza

      You are the example of a perfect “you fell for the trap”. That’s exactly what the writers intended to do, fur us not to like Priya because she was insecure, the fact that they left huge holes in that development should be more obvious.

      That’s why we women still don’t have a better place in society, we don’t support each other; did it ever occur to you to blame Leonard for not clarifying anything, or at least tell her Penny also hangs out with the boys?

      • Me

        Omg. Relax. I’m sure the writers aren’t feminist windbags. It’s a sitcom. Suspend your reality and have a laugh for once.

    • Shikumi

      I didn’t like Priya after she asked Leonard to ban Penny, and especially didn’t like her after she used her lawyer skills on the roommate agreement, but I must say that Penny and Amy weren’t exactly saintly and likable during “the wildebeest implementation” episode. Priya was nicer than usual (and they knew it), but they still called her a b****.

  • David

    Get rid of Priya and Amy and the show might be good again.

  • Samantha

    They are together because Leonard is seeking an intellectual equal (re: Taming of Shrew) However, that just makes them really bland. Plus, Priyas controlling nature makes viewing hard to watch.

  • Terry

    Well, in real life, I don’t think there are too many people that would appreciate their significant other hanging out with their ex.

  • Bella

    Penny and Sheldon are like brother and sister. Leonard is about as nerdy as Penny could manage to stand. I like Leonard and Penny together and would like to see them together again some day, but I have no problem with them dating other people in the meantime. They need to make Priya a little more likeable, though, if they want her to stick around and want us to stick around and watch the show. I’m getting ready to start hitting the mute button whenever she talks. So far, it looks like Raj got all the personality in the family.

  • Hannah

    I didn’t realize how right Leonard and Penny are until we got Priya. Go away. Now. Just get those kids back together. So meant to be.

  • Monica

    Leonard and Penny. If not them…yeah, no one. I want them back. Now.

  • Bobby

    It’s hard to tell to what degree we were supposed to “pine” for Ross and Rachel, given they didn’t get back together until the final episode. Perhaps Leonard and Penny will not get back together until the final episode. Or not (as Sam & Diane did not reunite in the final Cheers).

    • Chelsea

      Or they could just pull a “That 70s Show” and put Penny with Raj like they put Jackie with FEZ of all people in the finale. That was so mind-boggling.

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