I totally get where this confession is coming from, but Penny is already more than that.
It kills me that we (I am including myself) will spend days, even weeks doing in-depth character analysis on Sheldon and Amy. We continually defend them, forgive their short-comings and rationalize their behaviors. But this is because we understand that they are MORE than 2-dimensional cookie cut out characters. Can we throw a little of that Penny’s way?
Hey, I’m not crazy about some of choices the writers have made for Penny either, but, like Sheldon, there has been slow and steady progress. I know I sound like a broken record but of all the characters I think Sheldon and Penny are the most alike when it comes to their fears and stubbornness. And like Sheldon, there is so much more going on for Penny than what’s on the surface. Change is frightening for both these characters, but Penny is tackling her fears and trying to shed her preconceived notions of what “success” is. She is finally starting to value what’s right in front of her (Leonard, Sheldon, the girls). That is real growth. Success is more than fame IMO. Success, at least to me, is having a genuine contentment with where your life is and the people in it.
And also like Sheldon, it won’t happen overnight. I have my fingers crossed and I plan on extending the same patience to her character I do for Sheldon’s progression. Let’s hope the writers nail it. I also want a last name!
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of criticizing a character and the way that certain character is treated by their narrative. Essentially going “but there’s more to it than that” is neglecting the important details that define Penny as a character at this point in time:
- she is an alcoholic
- she is possibly (probably) depressed
- she is a failure at her chosen career
- she is attempting to patch up these massive problems with a marriage to Leonard
Penny gets brave enough to quit at the Cheesecake Factory and dedicate herself wholly to her art. The parts she gets are either cut out before airing or they’re humiliating. The narrative has kicked Penny to the ground and has not stopped.
I think it’s a vital part of Penny’s story that she realize that fame will not make her life better and that the copious problems she has still need to be dealt with. You’re absolutely right at that point. But robbing her of all success, of all her autonomy, is not the way to do it.
She has become wholly dependent on Leonard — both literally (as the car she now has technically belongs to him; she is beholden to him, Leonard is automatically at an advantage in this relationship because Penny will feel that she owes him for the kindness [that she did not ask for] and because she knows that if she breaks up with him or if he breaks up with her, she will no longer have her own source of transportation) and metaphorically as Penny needs Leonard to be the way out of the pit her life has become.
It is not healthy for anyone to try to use a relationship to patch up their personal failings.
Penny moved from Nebraska to Pasadena entirely on her own, of her own will. She began her own business selling Pennyblossoms early on in the series — whether it worked or not is irrelevant because the important thing is that she does it for herself.
Think about when Penny asks for help building the Ikea entertainment system. The boys take such a simple request and twist it to suit themselves. They’re talking about lasers and cooling units and Penny’s sitting on the floor, reading the instructions, doing it for herself.
The narrative has robbed Penny of her self-sufficiency, to the point where she can no longer use a hot glue gun without getting gobs of it on her like she’s a toddler. The same woman who made Pennyblossoms with her own two hands.
If the same Ikea situation were put in front of her now, if Leonard told her they could make it better, I have literally no doubt that Penny would stand back and let them. They’ll probably do it better anyway. Let her get some more wine. Whatever.
That is not progress.
Reblogging because although I respectfully disagree with some points, this is incredibly well argued. I will admit I am not pleased with Penny’s shrinking sense of independence and I am way over the drunk jokes almost as much as I am over the Mrs. Wolowitz fat jokes.