The Big Bang Theory Season 12, Episode 4 Recap: More Penny and Bernadette, Please

The Big Bang Theory hyped its latest episode as a Young Sheldon-type crossover—thanks to the appearance of Sheldon’s childhood best friend Tam—but that wasn’t even best part of the episode. That honor goes to Bernadette and Penny’s mission to befriend Raj’s new fiancé, Anu.

To be fair, the Sheldon/Tam/Leonard storyline in “The Tam Turbulence” was classic Big Bang, but it was Melissa Rauch and Kaley Cuoco who stole the episode with their buddy-cop humor and deadpan delivery. It’s that reason why I believe Big Bang could still live on as a spin-off should it choose to; the Bernadette/Penny show more than proved that.

But let’s get back to the episode. Penny and Bernadette go on a mission to dig up info on Anu, and in the process exhibit Bachelor-level behavior not endorsed by yours truly (though, TBH, it was hysterical). Penny tells Bernadette that she’s “really worried about this Raj getting married thing.” Bernadette agrees. After all, it’s not like they make marriage to their respective spouses look that great.

Here’s where they really go off the deep end: Penny suggests that because her deep-dive social media search on Anu has turned up empty, it’s time to call in reinforcements. Bernadette phones her dad—a retired cop—to see if he’ll run a background check on Anu. No, he says. Of course, that’s not good enough for Bernadette and Penny. If he won’t help, they’ll just go to the hotel where Anu is a concierge and do the work themselves.

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PHOTO: Michael Yarish/CBS

The whole scene that follows (including Bernadette’s story of how she can fit her entire body into her dryer) is brilliant, but if I ever have friends that pull the same shtick on a future boyfriend of mine, please tell me to get new friends. Bernadette and Penny introduce themselves, but Anu is five steps ahead of them, knowing Raj’s friends have just come to get the dirt on her. Doesn’t matter—she’s happy to go along and suggests an ultra-trendy restaurant they all have dinner at later that night. Penny’s impressed; she’s been trying to get into this restaurant forever, to no avail. “Oh, please, getting into impossible places is my super power,” Anu says. And with that, Penny divorces Leonard and marries Anu. Kidding!

Later at the restaurant, Bernadette wants to know why Anu would marry someone she just met when she seems like such a smart, successful woman. Fair question, Anu says, before adding that in her 20s, she tried dating the “normal” way. “I met a guy, fell in love, we moved in together, I put him through culinary school, screenwriting classes, and finally dumped him when he wanted to become a midwife,” she says. “Then I realized, my parents are happy, they had an arranged marriage, why am I fighting this?”

Penny and Bernadette are still skeptical, saying they both married for love and it turned out…well, fine, they guess. In other words, maybe Anu has a point.

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PHOTO: Michael Yarish/CBS

Over the course of the evening, Anu turns the tables and gets Bernadette and Penny drunk in hopes of getting gossip out of them about Raj. It works. They spill about Raj’s love of Britney Spears and that he takes baths with his dog…while they both wear swimsuits. Oh, and he snot-cries every time Hugh Jackman sings. Exactly what a girl you just met wants to hear. But he sounds better than half the guys I keep meeting in L.A., so maybe don’t write him off too fast, Anu.

Of course, this all gets back to Raj and he is livid—rightfully so. “Do me a favor and stay away from [Anu],” he yells at Penny and Bernadette.

They feel bad for a minute before coming to the conclusion that they should do damage control and take Anu out again, especially if they can use her to get them into Soho House. “We owe it to Raj to try,” a sly Bernadette reasons.

I can’t wait to see this unfold. Bring it on, Benny.

Netflix’s New Series *Westside* Is Basically the Reality TV Version of *A Star Is Born*

Netflix is debuting a new reality TV show next month, and it’s basically the IRL version of A Star Is Born. On Thursday (October 11), the streaming giant dropped the trailer for this new show, which is called Westside and follows nine aspiring singer-songwriters as they attempt to pursue their dreams of stardom.

In the clip, the celebrity hopefuls alternate between belting their hearts out, butting heads over their competing egos, and casually dropping one-liners like, “We’re going to mine our lives for the truths we want to share.” Yup. It goes deep!

You may recognize some of the faces of Westside. According to Entertainment Weekly, the cast includes Pia Toscano, who appeared on the 10th season of American Idol and placed ninth, as well as Taz Zavala, Arika Gluck, James Byous, Caitlin Ary, Leo Gallo, Alexandra Kay, Austin Kolbe, and Sean Patrick Murray, all of whom have already released a few songs on their own, to minor success. On the show, they’ll put out at least 18 songs, per EW, likely a mix of solo singles and group collabs.

Watch the trailer for yourself, below:

Westside starts streaming on Netflix November 9. If you’re already hungry for more of this Glee meets The Hills goodness, you can stream one of the songs featured in the trailer, “We Are the Ones,” right now.

This isn’t the only music-inspired movie or TV show premiering this year. You also have Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddy Mercury biopic, to look forward to in November, as well as Vox Lux, the explosive indie movie coming out in December where Natalie Portman plays a Gaga-esque pop star.

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What IVF Is Really Like

“How are you?” is a tricky question to field when you’re responding to someone who doesn’t already kind of know the answer. And when you’re going through infertility treatment, not many people already kind of know the answer.

There’s no shortcut to explaining the physical and emotional state of infertility treatment to the uninitiated. There’s no quick way to work through the sea of acronyms, the IUIs, and the SETs and the PGDs, that clutter your existence. There’s also no one-liner that adequately captures the feeling of being simultaneously captive and adrift, an existence beleaguered by a long list of instructions to follow but no discernible end in sight.

This is what makes Private Life, a new film by Tamara Jenkins recently released on Netflix and in theaters, so invaluable. In addition to being a crackling and touching story, it’s a much-needed reference point for the fertiles of the world to understand the particulars, and particular madness, of infertility treatment.

“IVF is like making your way through an obstacle course located inside an eccentric billionaire’s lawn maze.”

Private Life is about Rachel and Richard (Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti), two middle-aged New York literary types who can’t get pregnant. Their diagnosis is a combination of advanced maternal age on Rachel’s part and low sperm count on his account. In short, they waited too long.

The film walks us through their process of trying to become parents “by any means necessary” with such a delicate accuracy that there were moments I, an IVF-veteran, wasn’t sure I could keep watching. My heart accelerated through all the scenes of waiting, by the phone and at the doctor’s office, the shots, the treatment plans, the maybe, maybe, maybes, and sorry, sorry, sorrys. I recognized the marriage that’s been put in service of fertility treatment at the cost of nearly everything else. I also recognized Rachel’s largely unacknowledged resilience. It didn’t surprise me to learn that Jenkins had been through much of this herself.

My story. At age 35, I got diagnosed with secondary unexplained infertility. It’s a diagnosis that means I was able to have a baby without any assistance, and then, for reasons they couldn’t understand, was not able to get pregnant with another. The madness I experienced was void of the existential quality that I suspect many other infertile women who don’t already have a child face. The question of whether or not I would other get to experience motherhood was not at stake.

Still, like everyone else going through infertility treatment, I really wanted a baby. So often women feel like they need to mute or hedge that desire. Maybe someone has it harder, or babies ruin feminism, or it’s selfish because of global warming or poverty (better to help needy children elsewhere) and, well, you name it. The list can go on and on but the desire remains. We long to have kids.

Private Life

PHOTO: Seacia Pavao / Netflix

Here’s what I did to get one: I had two IUIs (they squirt sperm in uterus during your peak ovulation window), one with Clomid (a pill I took that made my ovaries mature 2 eggs at once); an IVF retrieval (a few weeks of many, many needles filling me with hormones that made my ovaries mature 21 eggs at once, followed by a surgical procedure in which the eggs were removed and then fertilized); a four-month wait while the resultant embryos were tested for chromosomal and genetic abnormalities; a medicated transfer (many more needles filled with hormones that shut down my natural cycle so they could control my body—and my mind, making me batshit crazy—followed by the placement of a single embryo in my uterus); a pregnancy!; a miscarriage!; a three-month wait before another transfer, this time medication-free; 11 months after it all began, another pregnancy; 9 months later, a baby boy.

Many people have lists that are much longer, and credit card bills that are much higher. According to FertilityIQ, the average IVF patient goes through more than one cycle of IVF and spends around $50,000 on infertility treatment, and insurance coverage is rare.

Here’s how it felt: It’s like making your way through an obstacle course located inside an eccentric billionaire’s lawn maze. You climb up the walls, you paddle through the streams, you swing on the ropes. You are working so hard! You are giving it your all! You have absolutely no idea where you are going.

Private Life shows us how to tell these stories and convinces us that they matter, too.

It’s like being a low-ranking spy on a important mission. You are busy, regularly receiving and executing lots of instructions, while understanding that the stakes are high. You are a good servant, you follow orders, but never are you clued into the master plan. You start to wonder if there is a master plan, or if your overlords (your doctors) are more susceptible to the forces of fate that you realized. You soon understand it’s the latter.

It’s knowing there is always one more thing to try.

Research shows that I am far from the only woman who found it emotionally intense. One study of 200 couples found that half the women and 15 percent of the men said infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Another found that women dealing with infertility felt as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer or recovering from a heart attack. Also, infertility is really common. One in eight couples struggle to get or stay pregnant, and yet we really hear their stories, or witness their pain.

In addition to being a good movie, Private Life shows us how to tell these stories and convinces us that they matter, too. Rachel’s distant focus in the passenger seat of the car, her beating her husband’s chest when he fails to consider bad news from her side, her determination despite being called a junky, all come together to flesh out a side of womanhood that often remains under covers.

May the film help infertile women, past, present, and future, respond to “how are you?” honestly, with the hope that whoever’s listening might understand their answers.


Elissa Strauss lives in Oakland, California; she has written for The New York Times and Slate and is a contributing writer for cnn.com.

Taylor Swift Threw an Epic AMAs After Party

The American Music Awards was a big night for Taylor Swift, and she celebrated in — pun intended — style.

After a show-stopping performance, four award wins that cinched her the record for the most decorated female artist in AMAs’ history, and urging fans to get out and vote on November 6, the “I Did Something Bad” singer capped off the evening with a massive after party alongside some of her best friends.

The guest list included Shawn Mendes, Jack Antonoff (who has collaborated with T. Swift on several albums), Hayley Kiyoko (who performed on Taylor’s Reputation tour) — as well as actor Ruby Rose and Taylor’s longtime hairstylist Riawna Capri. The Swift Squad took the opportunity to share some photos of the evening on Instagram, and needless to say you’ll be pretty disappointed your invites got lost in the mail.

Taylor herself also shared a carousel photo to the ‘gram of herself posing with some of her Reputation dancers, writing, “Getting to perform with people I love this much is a real mood.”

One of her dancers, Robert Green, also posted a photo from the evening along with a sweet tribute to the singer. “So…my #WCW obviously goes to @taylorswift! What a night!” he wrote. “Congrats on winning every single nomination at the AMA’s last night…and more importantly for being such a BOSS when it comes to standing up for what’s right. We need more fearlessness such as yours! It is always and honor working with you.”

It’s been quite some time since Taylor’s epic Fourth of July and birthday parties have graced our social media feeds, and it’s refreshing to see she and some of her squad back together. Even if the old Taylor is technically dead, it’s clear that her party planning skills most certainly are not.

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The Best Concealers With Glowing Sephora Reviews

For something as basic as concealer, finding the perfect one for you can often feel like signing up for every dating app at once: overwhelming. But that’s why you’ve got to love Sephora. When you need intel on the absolute best makeup products, you can always count on the retailer’s reviews, all written by fellow beauty obsessives in search of their own holy grails. As for concealers, the review section is particularly helpful. Narrowing down the vast pool of flesh-colored sticks, pots, and tubes that really perform can be an annoying (and expensive) exercise. Scroll on to find which concealers Sephora shoppers have rated the best for under eyes, acne, and scars.

Blake Lively Is Developing a New Scripted Fashion Series for Amazon

You know you love this news, XOXO. Blake Lively is currently in the process of developing a scripted television series for Amazon that would revolve around the good, the bad, and the ugly of the modern fashion industry. Remind you of a certain fashionable CW drama, Upper East Siders?

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Lively will be closely working alongside with the streaming service for the untitled show. However, one (admittedly very cool) way that it will differ from Lively’s famed Gossip Girl turn is that this series will reportedly also have a strong “merchandising component” alongside it. (Translation: It’s possible that some of the outfits featured on the show can be highlighted and identified for purchase on Amazon’s website.) Amazon is being cagey about what exactly the “culturally relevant” show will entail, but Lively will reportedly only be producing, as opposed to starring.

“I told business affairs I’m going to do this. [Lively] is in Rome, asleep. She’ll wake up to it,” Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke explained when making the surprise announcement at this year’s Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit. “She’s a force of nature: ambitious, smart and talented.” Salke compared Lively to someone like Nicole Kidman, who has effortlessly transcended her “actor” title to an astute and in-demand producer.

New York City Candids & Sightings

PHOTO: Arnaldo Magnani

Lively with Leighton Meester on the set of ‘Gossip Girl.’

Lively has been blossoming as a producer for over a year now, starting when she signed on to produce the film adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret. (Moriarty wrote Big Little Lies, if you recall.)

As she explained to Glamour last year, getting more woman producers for projects catering to women is one way to help achieve parity in the entertainment industry. “Nobody’s going to fight for you as much as you fight for yourself,” she said. “That said, I know a lot of great men — directors, producers, studio heads — looking to tell stories about women, some because they’re drawn to those stories, some because they’re husbands or fathers and want to see the women in their life represented more accurately, and some just because they look at the numbers. They see, ‘Wonder Woman has replaced religion in America. We should probably invest in female summer movies.'”

Here’s hoping this Amazon project will help achieve that, but for television.

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Camila Mendes Says Seeking Help for Her Bulimia ‘Changed My Life’

Almost exactly one year ago, Camila Mendes opened up for the first time on social media about her past struggles with disordered eating, an admission she made in tandem with announcing her collaboration with Project HEAL, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and funding to young people seeking treatment for eating disorders. Since then, she’s continued to speak candidly about her experiences with bulimia, as well as her recent decision to stop dieting once and for all. In her cover interview for the November 2018 issue of Shape, the Riverdale star spoke about how she’s recovering from years of disordered eating, and what made her decide to share this process with her millions of fans and followers.

“I’ve struggled with bulimia. It happened a little bit in high school and again when I was in college. Then it came back when I started working in this industry with fittings all the time and watching myself on camera. I had such an emotional relationship with food and anxiety about everything I put into my body,” Mendes said.“I was so scared of carbs that I wouldn’t let myself eat bread or rice ever. I’d go a week without eating them, then I would binge on them, and that would make me want to purge. If I ate a sweet, I would be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to eat for five hours now.’ I was always punishing myself. I was even anxious about healthy food: Did I eat too much of the avocado? Did I have too many fats for one day? I was consumed with the details of what I was eating, and I always felt as if I was doing something wrong.”

About a year ago, the 24-year-old decided it was time to seek help. “I went to a therapist, and she recommended a nutritionist as well, and seeing both of them changed my life. So much of the anxiety I had about food went away when I started learning more about nutrition. My nutritionist completely cured my fear of carbs. She was like, ‘You need a balanced amount of good, healthy carbs in your life. Have a piece of toast in the morning; have some quinoa at lunch. When you’re eating a little of them all the time, you won’t have this crazy urge to binge. You won’t be scared of carbs anymore because you’re going to realize that eating them isn’t going to make you gain weight,'” Mendes said. “She also cured my addiction to dieting. I was always on some kind of weird diet, but I haven’t been on one since. I’m very proud of myself.”

And while the actor said she still faces some of the same insecurities she did before, she’s found ways to shut them down. “The voices in my head never completely go away. They’re just way quieter now. Every once in a while I’ll look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘Ugh, I don’t like the way that looks.’ But then I’ll just drop it. I don’t let it consume me,” she said. “I think it’s natural to judge or be critical of yourself. Everyone does it. But you can make the decision on the spot that you’re going to conquer it. In those moments I’ll look at myself and say, ‘You’re fine. You look good. This is your prime, so enjoy it.'”

It was that conscious decision to start loving herself just as she is that inspired Mendes to be more open with her followers. “It just felt so necessary for me to speak about those things,” she said. “I realized that I have this platform, and young women and men who look up to me, and there is a tremendous power to do something positive with it. It was definitely a very vulnerable thing to put that out there to almost 12 million people on social media. But that’s who I am. That’s me being authentically myself.” She continued, “As actors, yes, we bring joy to people. But for me, it’s also about what I’m doing for the world, what I’m contributing on a larger scale.”

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Priyanka Chopra Reveals What Makes Her Relationship With Nick Jonas So Good

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are just one of many celebrity couples who became engaged over the summer. And now, in a new interview, the actress is explaining how fiancée life is different than just casually dating.

“I’m excited. It’s a very different feeling,” Chopra told E! News at a Tiffany & Co. event in New York City earlier this week. “I never realized that having a boyfriend and having a fiancé are completely different.” She added, “It just feels different. There’s gravitas. You feel like family, which is just so different.”

Jonas recently said what truly connects him and Chopra is their “love for family and faith,” and she echoed that sentiment to E! News. “We have that in common very much. We’ve known each other for a couple of years but we dated for just a little while, but I think that’s the one thing we really connect on, is our love for family and knowing faith is so important to us,” she said.

At the same Tiffany event, Chopra spoke to People about why she had her heart set on having her engagement ring come from the nearly 200-year-old luxury brand. “Well, I may have dropped that hint. I think we had a conversation about it when we were dating and I’ve always known it had to be Tiffany,” she said. “I just knew it since I was a kid. First, it was Breakfast at Tiffany’s that did it for every girl in the world, and then, of course, Sweet Home Alabama came and put a stamp on it that it has to be Tiffany!”

She continued, “Since I was a little girl, it was just something that was stuck in my head. And I may have said that, and I guess he remembered.”

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Dakota Johnson Just Personally Responded to All Those Pregnancy Rumors

Earlier this week, rumors began swirling that Dakota Johnson and Chris Martin were having a baby together. The evidence came from a party thrown at Martin’s house over the weekend, which included baby blue and pink balloons as decorations. One lucky paparazzo captured some of the balloons flying away, leading many to believe the couple was having some kind of sex reveal party.

But this isn’t the case. Reps for the actress said the shindig was just for her 29th birthday. And now Johnson herself is commenting on the rumors: “Well, the only thing I’m pregnant with is a lot of really good ideas. But not any babies,” she said when asked about it on Ellen on Thursday. “It was my birthday and there were balloons that happened to be pink and blue, and so then I was pregnant. I didn’t know that the balloons were gonna be released. They were just in an arch, but I guess that accidentally happened, one of the ends just got let go. A lot of people congratulated me. A lot of attention! More than just having it be my birthday.”

There was a silly downside to Johnson’s birthday-becoming-headline news, though: She now has to deal with facing the wrath of everyone she didn’t invite. “Now I had to be like, It was just my birthday,” she said, “and all of the people I didn’t invite to my birthday know I had a birthday party.”

“I’m not going to talk about it, but I am very happy,” Johnson told Tatler a few weeks ago when magazine when asked about her relationship with Martin.

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12 Best Leave-In Conditioners for Curly and Natural Hair

Fact: Finding the right leave-in conditioner can make all the difference for women with natural hair. Dousing your strands with a rich, concentrated dose of moisture on the regular not only helps to nourish and hydrate your hair, but also strengthen, protect, and reverse any damage done from heat tools or the elements—especially if your summer involved time spent in salt water.

But while it’s true that just about every hair type and texture can benefit from a post-shower hydrating product, there are a few factors that those with natural hair will want to be sure to keep an eye out for. Since natural hair tend to be coarser and more frizz-prone, it’s important to use a hydrating treatment formulated with ingredients that’ll penetrate curls without weighing them down, like shea butter, aloe vera, and coconut oil. In the end, the ideal treatment will allow your hair to be the best version of itself, all while keeping it healthier for longer—and who doesn’t want that?

To get the scoop on the very best leave-in conditioners out there, we turned to a dozen natural hair bloggers to learn more about their personal favorites, from drugstore classics to luxe creams. Read on below, and get ready to take notes.