Leonard’s crazy mom didn’t make an appearance on the show until the second season, probably for a good reason. Her name is Dr. Beverly Hofstadler and she is played by Christine Baranski. Dr. Hofstadler’s personally is depicted as cold and bitter. She speaks in a monotone and is often over analytical. Beverly can often be arrogant, narcissistic, and ignorant. Her relationship with Leonard is extremely dysfunctional, yet she doesn’t blame herself for it at all. In fact, when she observes Leonard’s childhood, she comes to the conclusion that he has unresolved childhood issues as well as an Oedipal complex (romantic feelings towards his mother) that she cannot understand the origin or cause of. In reality, all Leonard wants is a mother and son relationship with her, which is a concept that she cannot grasp. Let’s look at a play by play account of Dr. Beverly Hofstadler throughout the seasons.
Beverly first visits in “The Maternal Capacitance,” which is episode 15 of season 2. Leonard is clearly uneasy about his mother visiting him and it becomes apparent when she arrives that she is very similar to Sheldon, but to the max. She goes on to upset Penny by talking with her about her childhood issues with Wyatt (Penny’s father), refers to Howard and Raj as a gay couple, and repeatedly belittles Leonard. However, she gets along with Sheldon and spends more time with him than her own son.
She reappears in “The Maternal Congruence”, in season 3, where she visits Leonard for Christmas. She does not know that Leonard and Penny are dating. Leonard had not told her because she would undeniably disapprove because of Penny’s lack of education. It turns out that Beverly stays in touch with Sheldon, even telling him more than she does Leonard. What’s even more of a slap in the face is Leonard is told about his parents’ pending divorce, his mother’s surgery, and the death of his dog after Sheldon is told weeks prior.
Penny takes Beverly drinking at The Cheesecake Factory and they bond. Penny reveals her relationship with Leonard, to which Beverly wonders why Leonard never told her. When they get back, Beverly gives Leonard a genuine hug after she realizes why he distances himself from her. She then kisses Sheldon passionately, but then turns her attention to a busboy she saw at the Cheesecake Factory. Being driven to the airport by Leonard, she gives her blessing to his relationship with Penny. Leonard is never told about his mother kissing Sheldon, for fear of making Leonard upset and therefore making his relationship with Sheldon and his mother worse.
Beverly is briefly seen via Skype chat in the premiere episode of season 5, “The Skank Reflex Analysis.” Leonard tells her about his recent frustrations with his new girlfriend, Priya, having broken up with Penny in a previous episode, and his anger towards Penny. She responds with a sarcastic “Buck up, sissy pants,” and later goes on to tell Leonard that if he needs any further advice from her he should purchase her psychology books on Amazon.com rather than actually call her again.
Talk about a dysfunctional relationship! This article will be concluded in part 2.