“The apartment flag is a golden lion rampant on a field of azure,” Sheldon tells Leonard when the two roommates first meet revealing that he is a true flag fanatic but also showing off his knowledge of official heraldic terminology. Long live the nerds!
The hit American sitcom The Big Bang Theory and especially the character of Sheldon Cooper, played by actor Jim Parsons, may have a few fans among the world’s flag enthusiasts.
Fun With Flags is Sheldon’s recurring internet vlog about flags, introduced in the sitcom’s fifth season. Memorable moments include Sheldon dressed up as Betsy Ross, the woman widely credited with making the first US flag in 1776, or Sheldon in lederhosen waving a Bavarian flag, his girlfriend Amy, played by actress Mayim Bialik, standing next to him in a full-body pretzel costume.
A low point in the history of Fun With Flags is when Sheldon does a two hour 4th of July spectacular setting up 4000 dominos to make the American flag and Amy doesn’t succeed in recording the hole thing. When Sheldon and Amy break up their relationship for a time, he comments: “Speaking of ending relationships, when British Honduras became Belize, they designed a new flag with a tree on it, and I would like to hang myself from that tree.”
Sheldon not only references flag facts when expressing despair and explaining relationship troubles, he also use them to lift other people’s spirit. Yet another Sheldon Cooper flag quote: “Here is something that might cheer you up: The flag of the Isle of Man is nothing but three legs sharing a weird pair of underpants, so … you think you got problems.”
Sheldon’s apartment flag can best be described as a sort of banner of arms. It’s blue (azure means blue in heraldry) and it has in the middle a yellow standing lion with its forepaws raised (this is what rampant means in heraldry).
In the episode of the sitcom’s third season when Sheldon’s apartment flag is first seen, he also tells Leonard, played by actor Johnny Galecki, that if the flag is displayed upside down it means “apartment in distress”. Odd as it may seem, this rule could be said to mirror a rare practice known for example in the Philippines: The Philippino national flag is hoisted upside down when the country is in a state of war.
In the wide, varied and fascinating world of flags there are flags for almost anything and anyone. There are flags for countries, organisations, institutions, government bodies, companies and individuals. There are flags for towns, cities, counties, states and nations. There are flags for causes and ideologies, flags for private persons and positions of authority, flags for ships and for sports and flags that only exist in fiction.
Thanks to The Big Bang Theory I have been introduced to the concept of flags for apartments. My only regret writing this is that I haven’t thought of how my apartment flag should look. Have you?