Review: BBT S1E1 Pilot

Infamously, the aired pilot of the Big Bang Theory was a heavily revised version of a previous attempt almost a year earlier. Even so, it's interesting to note that not all mistakes were fixed in this reworked version. This highlights the magic of story: character flaws and growth make us love the characters more as we identify with their charisma and mistakes both.

Amongst the many other flaws that we'll come to love over the 12 seasons of BBT, in this first episode we are introduced to the cadre of characters that make up the main cast - as well as their financial ineptitude.

Somewhat ironically, a pair of Girl Scouts are shown outwitting Sheldon and Leonard in the pursuit of their financial endeavors.

Yet, through all the financial mistakes in this episode and in future episodes, we the audience see our own mistakes anew. Whereby, through the process of seeing our favorite characters recover, we process our mistakes and forgive ourselves in order to move forward once more.

What are some of the good and poor uses of money in this episode?

Note - Views expressed are opinions only, not 'true' statements in the strictest sense. Use your own 'sense' to determine whether they are in fact legitimate.


  • The opening line of the pilot episode contains Sheldon's idea for a T-shirt. It is unclear whether he intended to make a version of this shirt and sell it online, but if so he might have been one of the first to start a custom T-shirt business. Whether or not it would have sold well is open for discussion, but we'll give this one to him as a good way to start off the series.
  • Sheldon and Leonard share the rent on a 2 bedroom apartment in a low to mid-range apartment building at a fictitious address in downtown Pasadena, California. The rent appears to be reasonable given that a 1 bedroom across the hall is rented by a single waitress. This in itself is an excellent financial decision that continues broadly through the entire 12 years of the show run. While not much is made of this decision within the show, sharing rent at reasonable rates is a huge way to save money.
  • Sheldon mentions using MySpace, a free social networking site. It's unclear from future episodes how many free services he and Leonard use, but this is a good example of saving money by taking advantage of free services.
  • Sheldon exclaims incredulously, "It took you four years to get through high school!?" At first it seems insulting and at best represents his oblivious understanding of normal academic achievement. However, at a deeper level, seemingly not intended by Sheldon, it represents a good financial decision. If you can complete high school and college in a shorter amount of time, you will spend less money on education and more importantly be able to use that time saved to make money in a career.
  • It appears as though Penny moved herself into her new apartment. This can be a large cost savings especially if you are physically able to do so. Of course, it also implies that the amount of items to move is manageable. Apparently, Penny had clothes, kitchenware, bed, sofa and a few other items to move, which is manageable although perhaps more than a single person should normally have.
  • While note directly making money for themselves, the two Girl Scouts are learning skills that will aide them for years to come. Their enterprising if highly dangerous attack on the streets to sell cookies could yield them high paying sales jobs in the future if other factors also line up in their favor.
  • After loosing his pants, Sheldon reminisces that his mother bought them for him. If you can save a pair of pants and make them last as long as moving out from your parents house, through college and into your career, that will save you a ton of money. Of course, this is only one interpretation of Sheldon's statement, and it's more likely that as a socially awkward person, his mother continues to buy his clothes even though he has moved out of home. This will also save you money, but you shouldn't do this to you mother!!


  • Somewhat uncharacteristically, the opening scene depicts Leonard and Sheldon making a sperm deposit as a means to get some extra money for the stated purpose of having "fractional T1 bandwidth" in their apartment. In 2007 when this episode aired, fractional T1 was faster internet access used mostly by businesses. While on the one hand making the effort to make a little extra money, it is unclear how the internet access was going to help them financially.
  • Penny works as a waitress at the local Cheesecake Factory while looking for acting jobs and writing a screen play. While her waitress profession by itself is not a poor decision, her choice to focus on an acting career in her spare time means that she is not earning additional income in her second job. It later becomes clear that she does indeed have a lot more earning potential than her current position, but her character arc is not yet defined.
  • Penny's television was apparently left behind in her ex-boyfriend's apartment and didn't make it to her new apartment. While financial decisions made in break ups are never easy, allowing feelings to cloud judgement isn't the best course of action. Other critics might classify this example as a poor financial choice, given the nature of the situation it seems to be only neutral.


  • Among the nicknacks, games, and other props shown in the background of the apartment, Sheldon mentions watching the DVD collection of Battlestar Galactica. Generally speaking, buying and keeping TV shows and movies is at best a neutral financial decision. However, over the subsequent episodes, it becomes clear that this is not an isolated occurrence. Spending this money on entertainment can be important in some cases, but this blog is about making smart financial decisions as a priority over other spending.
  • In this episode, Leonard invites Penny over to eat Indian takeout food in the first of many iconic meals in the apartment with friends. While a moderate amount of takeout is normal and healthy when considering financial health, there is no refuting that it is much cheaper to buy and cook food at home instead of buying from a restaurant.


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