Leslie Winkle appears in a grand total of nine episodes on The Big Bang Theory, and although she’s usually pretty central in those episodes, overall, she’s an extremely minor character – and that’s a shame. As a colleague of Leonard’s, she pops up as a romantic interest, as a quiz-team participant, and as an antagonist for Sheldon, and it’s a shame she didn’t appear on the show more often.
Leslie was a character with an amazing attitude, that provided a whole new perspective on dealing with Sheldon, and who was one of the few truly confident scientists on the series. Rather than being relegated to the odd episode, she should have been a major part of the show. Here’s why.
Possibly The Healthiest Relationship Model
Many of the relationships in The Big Bang Theory are problematic, to say the least. Leonard mopes after Penny, and spends years in an on-again, off-again relationship. All the main characters struggle to find healthy romances (at least at first) and most of the guys struggle to approach women they are attracted to (Howard, of course, struggles to approach them appropriately). Leslie, on the other hand, has no issues here. When Leonard asks her out, she calmly suggests just kissing to see if there is chemistry, and later on, is always completely honest about what she wants in a relationship. They could have learned a lot from her.
One Of Few Female Colleagues
It’s no secret that The Big Bang Theory is male-dominated. Of the original five characters, four are men, and Penny starts out as a bit of a stereotypical ‘blonde bimbo’. Even later in the series, most of the people that the gang work with at Caltech or see at the comic book store are men – Barry, Bert, Stuart, etc. Leslie was one of the few women working in science who was around from the start – and while Bernadette and Amy helped to balance this out later on, it would have been nice to include a female character not dating one of the core men.
Knows How To Handle Sheldon
Most of the main characters in TBBT struggle to deal with Sheldon’s quirks, although they find ways to get by. However, they do all tend to enable him and give in to his demands, something that Leslie never does. She calls Sheldon a ‘dumbass’, and calls him out on his inappropriate behavior – and while he hates her for this, the fans love it.
A Non-Nerdy Scientist
Most of the characters spend all of their free time being stereotypical nerds – at the comic book store, playing video games, etc.
Leslie, however, has hints of a much more varied life outside of the lab. She talks about parties and a social life, she plays in a string quartet, and she seems to have more hobbies and friends outside work – unlike most of the main characters!
Is Absolutely Hilarious
Leslie has an incredibly dry and biting wit – the jokes she cracks are smart, sassy, and would probably be the way that Sheldon would joke if he really understood the concept the same way the rest of the gang do. Leslie also shows that she knows when her jokes might be hurtful, and always walks the right side of the line between mean and teasing (except, occasionally, with Sheldon). She’s one of the funniest side-characters on the whole show.
Feels Zero Pressure To Fit In
Most of the main characters on the show, including Penny and Amy, clearly want to fit in. Penny wants to fit in with the ‘sexy, popular’ people, Amy desperately wants to be included and have friends, and Leonard, Howard, and Raj are ‘nerds’ who have never been able to fit in, and always compare themselves to the ‘cool kids’ of the world. Leslie, however, couldn’t give a hoot about what other people think, and it’s incredibly refreshing.
Healthy Attitude To Sex
Like many sitcoms, The Big Bang Theory gives into quite a bit of slut-shaming over the course of the show, and unfortunately, few of the characters seem to have a really healthy attitude toward sex.
Howard is flat-out predatory and quite disgusting, and while Penny has plenty of boyfriends, she often acts ashamed of it – especially when Sheldon starts adding them up (even though there’s nothing wrong with what Penny does). Leslie, however, is utterly unconcerned, and talks openly about her varied, healthy, consensual, and adventurous sex life.
One of the biggest issues with the show is how it steers into stereotypes. Penny is a dumb blonde who wants to be an actress and has no self-awareness. The guys are all scientists and comic book nerds with zero social skills, Howard plays into Jewish stereotypes, Raj plays into Indian stereotypes, etc etc. It’s incredibly frustrating, and it would have been great to see more like Leslie, who challenges stereotypes as a confident, sexually active, attractive woman in science.
Knows Exactly What She Wants
Leslie has absolutely no doubt about what she wants, and pursues it happily – something that would have made a nice balance to the uncertainty that defines so many of the other characters. Even when this changes – and she goes from wanting a wild and free love life to wanting to settle down – she recognizes the change and calmly pursues her new goal.
This is actually likely why Leslie isn’t a bigger character – sitcoms love to play up the characters who are all over the place, figuring themselves out, and likely to get into all kinds of scrapes that can be played up for laughs. Leslie, as calm, confident, and capable as she is, just isn’t quite dramatic enough to get a key role – but she would have made a great balancing influence on the show.