The Big Bang Theory gave fans 12 years of laughs at the goofy antics of four highly intelligent and also extremely awkward scientists. Throughout the series, the foursome grew and learned their way around social situations (to varying degrees), but there were still plenty of “oh snap!” moments that angered viewers.
Of the group, Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) was perhaps the most socially awkward. Sure, Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) wasn’t great — and we’re being kind here — with the rules of social engagement, but Raj was awkward on a completely different level. When The Big Bang Theory first started, Raj had such severe social anxiety he was completely unable to speak to women, or even when women were in the same room. A few episodes in, he discovers that he can, in fact, communicate with the fairer sex… but only with alcohol in his system. Using alcohol as a social lubricant is already dangerous, and it’s far more terrible with Raj, who becomes obnoxious and insanely sexist when drunk.
Suffice to say, Raj’s difficulties with the ladies resulted in some painfully uncomfortable situations — one of which involved Raj doing the absolute worst thing he’s ever done.
Raj’s many troubles with women
Throughout The Big Bang Theory, Raj — the self-proclaimed romantic of the group who is constantly searching for love – tries to have a successful relationship with a woman, but falls horribly short for a number of reasons. On more than one occasion, he requests that his parents organize an arranged marriage with a woman from a “good Indian family.” The first arrangement falls through when Raj turns up to his date with Lalita Gupta (Sarayu Blue) drunk, and quickly becomes rude and arrogant. The second is somewhat less his fault, when he refuses to marry Lakshmi (Chriselle Almeida) to hide from her parents the fact that she’s gay. The final one looks like it’s a go, but he and Anu (Rati Gupta) call off their wedding when they realize they don’t know anything about one another.
Other relationships Raj has over the course the series don’t exactly end well for him either. A list of his romantic mishaps include: dating two women at once (Emily and Lucy, played by Laura Spencer and Kate Micucci, respectively); rifling through Emily’s closets and drawers when she leaves him alone in her house; leaving Emily for Claire (Alessandra Torresani) after the briefest of meetings with the latter, and then coming crawling back to Emily when Claire turns him away; stalking girls to coffee shops (Emily again); pushing Lucy way out of her comfort zone after she repeatedly asks him not to; referring to women he’s not attracted to as “fatties and uggos”; and spying on his fiancée – and that’s not to even mention him fantasizing about his friends’ wives and girlfriends throughout the show, even almost hooking up with Penny (Kaley Cuoco) one night.
Easily the worst thing Raj did, however, was to Issabella (Maria Canals-Barrera). On the season 10 episode entitled “The Brain Bowl Incubation,” Raj meets the beautiful maintenance worker when she comes into his lab at Caltech to clean late one night. Despite the instant spark between them, it becomes clear that Raj has a problem with Issabella’s job.
A little lie with big consequences
After hitting it off with Issabella in his lab, Raj helps her clean the bathrooms. During their cleaning session, he decides to ask Issabella out on a date, but she explains she doesn’t have time to date while working two jobs. Before leaving the bathroom, he tries to convince Issabella to change her mind, and she again turns him down.
The rest of the gang quickly pick up on the fact that Raj has met someone, but he makes a fatal and cruel mistake when he fails to correct their assumption that she’s also an astrophysicist. Uh, what? For a supposedly intelligent man, this is a stupid move. There’s no way Issabella wouldn’t find out about his lie, and there’s even less of a chance it wouldn’t seriously hurt her feelings.
Still, Raj cooks up a plan to surprise her and get the date he wants. It’s a little pushy and desperate after she’s already turned him down twice in the bathroom, and even worse considering he’s also cleaned all the offices on the floor to make sure she has no excuse to reject him.
When Issabella next walks into his lab, he has set up a romantic dinner — complete with flowers and a tablecloth — for them to enjoy. Things seem to be going swimmingly… and then Howard (Simon Helberg) walks in and casually mentions she must be the astronomer Raj told them about. You can actually see Issabella’s face fall as she instantly realizes Raj has lied about her job, and rightly points out that she doesn’t need to waste her time with someone who’s embarrassed by what she does for a living. She makes a quick exit from the lab, dragging her cleaning cart with her as she goes, making it clear to Howard that Raj has been deceitful.
There are so many reasons Raj’s lie was messed up
Raj tries to go after Issabella and apologize, saying he hates himself for lying and being embarrassed by the fact that she’s a cleaning lady. Fortunately, Issabella has enough respect for herself to walk away from someone who clearly won’t respect her.
The fact of the matter is that Raj knew what Issabella did before he even started pursuing her, and continued to chase her knowing full well he would never be comfortable telling his friends that she’s a cleaning lady at the university and not another scientist. What exactly did he think was going to happen? That his friends would never find out he’d lied? That Issabella would never discover he had no respect for her job and was ashamed of her? Or was Raj just planning on never introducing Issabella to his friends if their relationship continued? It’s such a blatant lie that there’s no way anyone will convince us Raj truly thought their relationship would be able to go anywhere without the lie coming out.
The shame he felt over Issabella’s job is even more ironic when we consider the fact that, at that point in time, Raj was still living off his father’s fortune to pay for his rent, maid, car, and credit card bills — something he seems oddly proud of. At least Issabella is making and living off her own money. Let’s face it: working two jobs to make ends meet is more honorable than being a man in his thirties still living off daddy’s money. Raj really has no leg to stand on with his classism here.
It’s never acceptable to make someone else feel ashamed about what they do, and Raj hit rock bottom with his treatment of Issabella during this episode of The Big Bang Theory. Watching him lie to his friends about Issabella’s job makes it easy to understand why Raj has so many problems with women.