Learn English with The Big Bang Theory

Penny Meets Leonard’s Mom For The First Time

Welcome to this week’s English lesson with a funny scene from the Big Bang Theory. More precisely, you will watch a scene with Penny and Beverly Hofstadter as they meet for the very first time in front of the broken elevator. Their conversation is hilarious (and a bit disturbing for Penny).

For optimal learning results, I recommend following the five steps in exactly this order:

  1. Watch the complete scene with Subtitles
  2. Read the full Transcript
  3. Learn the Vocabulary and Phrases
  4. Test yourself by watching the whole scene again (this time without subtitles)
  5. Test yourself with some quiz questions

Step 1: Watch with Subtitles

Step 2: Read the Transcript

Penny: It’s out of order.

Beverly: Yes, I can read the sign. I’m just pondering the implications.

Penny: I think it implies that the elevator doesn’t work.

Beverly: Again, I can read the sign. But the sign and the tape are covered with a layer of dust, which indicates that the elevator has been non-functional for a significant amount of time. Which suggests either a remarkable passivity among the, I assume, 24 to 36 residents of this building based on the number of mailboxes and given typical urban population density, or a shared delusion of functionality.

Penny: You must be Leonard’s mother.

Beverly: Oh, I don’t know if I must be, but yes.

Penny: Uh, I’m Penny. I’m his neighbor.

Beverly: Oh, Dr. Beverley Hofstadter.

Penny: Oh, nice to meet you.

Beverly: Oh, you’re a hand-shaker. Interesting.

Penny: Uh, why don’t you come with me? I’ll walk you to the apartment.

Beverly: Oh, all right. Would you like to exchange pleasantries on the way?

Penny: Yeah, sure, I guess.

Beverly: All right, you start.

Penny: Okay. You know, I’ve always been curious. What was Leonard like when he was little?

Beverly: Oh, I think you mean young. He’s always been little.

Penny: Right, okay. What was he like when he was young?

Beverly: You’ll have to be more specific.

Penny: Oh, um, okay, like, five or six. Five.

Beverly: Oh, well, at that age, he was well enmeshed in what Freud would call the phallic stage of psychosexual development. An outmoded theory, of course, but the boy did spend most of his waking hours with a tight grasp on his penis.

Penny: Yeah, Leonard mentioned you were a psychiatrist.

Beverly: Well, that is one of my degrees. My primary field is neuroscience.

Penny: Oh, well, I’m an actress.

Beverly: Why?

Penny: What do you mean why?

Beverly: Well, there are studies that suggest that many who go into the performing arts suffer from an external locus of identity.

Penny: Yeah, I don’t know what that means.

Beverly: Well, it means you value yourself only as others value you, which is often the result of unmet childhood emotional needs.

Penny: Oh, well, I had a wonderful childhood.

Beverly: Tell me about it.

Penny: I know my dad wanted a boy. I just .. I tried being good at sports, but I hated getting dirty!

Beverly: And then, I’m assuming, you entered adolescence.

Penny: Uh-huh, he called me Slugger until I got my first training bra, and then he just stopped playing catch with me. I wasn’t Slugger anymore. Your mother’s here!

Beverly: If you want to have intercourse with that girl, find out what kind of cologne her father wore.

Step 3: Learn the Vocabulary

hilarious = extremely funny and causing a lot of laughter

Her jokes are absolutely hilarious.

disturbing = making you feel worried or upset

The following programme contains scenes that may be disturbing to some viewers.

out of order = not operating because it is broken

I’m afraid we have to walk up the stairs – the elevator is out of order.

to ponder = to think carefully about something, especially for a noticeable length of time

She sat back for a minute to ponder her next move in the game.

implicaion = an effect that something will have on something else in the future

The company is cutting back its spending and I wonder what the implications will be for our department.

dust = very small pieces of dirt which you find inside buildings, for example on furniture, floors, or in this case elevators

The furniture was covered in dust.

to indicate = to show, point, or make clear

These statistics might indicate quality problems.

non-functional = not working

Any non-functional components should be returned to the supplier.

passivity = inaction; the state of being passive

Passivity experiences are hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia.

hallmark = a typical characteristic or feature of something

to assume = to accept something to be true without question or proof

I assumed that you knew each other because you went to the same school.

resident = a person who lives or has their home in a place

The local residents were angry at the lack of parking spaces.

urban = belonging to, or relating to, a town or city

Pollution has reached disturbingly high levels in some urban areas.

Please note: The opposite of urban is rural (= far away from large towns or cities). /ˈrʊr.əl/

These plants have a tendency to grow in the more rural areas.

delusion = belief in something that is not true

He’s under the delusion that he will be promoted this year.

pleasantry = a polite and often humorous remark, usually made to help other people feel relaxed

After exchanging pleasantries, the delegation revealed the purpose of their visit.

enmeshed = If you are enmeshed in or with something, usually something bad, you are involved in it and cannot easily escape from it.

She has become enmeshed in a tangle of drugs and petty crime.

tangle = a mass of things that are not in a state of order
petty /ˈpet̬.i/ = not important and not worth giving attention to

the phallic stage of psychosexual development = In Freudian psychoanalysis the phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development between the ages of three to six years.

Freud said that during this time the infant’s desire centers upon their genitalia as the erogenous zone. (An erogenous part of your body is one where sexual pleasure can be felt or caused.) /ɪˈrɑː.dʒə.nəs/

outmoded = no longer modern, useful, or necessary

The country badly needs aid to modernize its outmoded industries.

Instead of outmoded you could also say outdated, old-fashioned, or out of fashion.

grasp = the act of holding onto someone or something

He shook my hand with a very firm grasp.

psychiatrist = a doctor who treats people who are mentally ill

Alex will probably be seeing a psychiatrist for many months or even years.

degree = the qualification given to a student of a college or university after he or she has completed his or her studies

She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale.

neuroscience = the scientific study of the nervous system and the brain

Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we now know that adult brains can grow and change.

performing arts = forms of entertainment such as acting, dancing, and playing music

My daughter hopes to go to university to study performing arts.

external locus of identity = a concept of human behavior where one’s identity is shaped up by external factors

unmet = not satisfied, or achieved

These children have many unmet needs.

adolescence = the period of time in a person’s life when they are developing into an adult

She had a troubled adolescence.

slugger = a baseball player who hits the ball very hard

Freeman was one of the top sluggers of his era.

bra = a piece of women’s underwear that supports the breasts

Your shirt’s so thin that it shows your bra.

to play catch = one of the most basic children’s games where participants throw a ball or similar object back and forth between each other

Playing catch requires at least two participants.

intercourse = the act of having sex

also: sexual intercourse

Our survey reveals that most couples have intercourse once a week.

cologne = a type of perfume

It needs to be fragrance free so as not to compete with my cologne.

fragrance /ˈfreɪ.ɡrəns/ = a pleasant or sweet smell

Step 4: Watch without Subtitles

Step 5: Take the Test

Penny meets Leonard's mom

1 / 5

Leonard's mom asked Penny if she wanted to exchange .....

2 / 5

Beverly advised her son to find out more about the ..... (1) Penny's father wore in case he wanted to have ..... (2) with her. (More than one answer possible)

3 / 5

Beverly is a .....

4 / 5

If something is no longer modern it is ....... (More than one answer may be correct.)

5 / 5

What is a "slugger?"

Your score is


Scene taken from Season 2, Episode 15 of The Big Bang Theory: The Maternal Capacitance | Definitions and example sentences are primarily taken from the Cambridge and Collins Dictionary.

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By Martin

Martin is the main contributor to this website. He loves to watch funny English sitcoms and inspirational videos and to read English books of different genres. Now, he wants to share his experience with you by posting funny and meaningful English lessons based on the sitcoms, videos, and books he loves so much.

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