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Still here @chiara. You go um... person. You got this.

That made me laugh because I am, indeed, a person ! Of the female sort. 

 

From a practical point of view they know each other well enough to take the risk. It's not like they are fresh off the turnip truck. So when you say ready I'd like to hear the distinction between ready to make the choice, which Penny apparently isn't and ready in the sense they could launch anyway and fast track the fixes.

You make an excellent point. Objectively, Penny and Leonard know each other well enough to get married. Actually, there is no rational need to know someone particularly well to wed for getting married is not a purely rational decision : it is a leap of faith, a gamble. At some point, you just have to go for it and hope for the best, sometimes in spite of what your brain tells you (Leonard). 

 

Penny is afraid of that. She fears she will jump into it too fast and improperly, that their relationship will be based on a whim or a misunderstanding and then they'll be stuck. I keep going back to the shotgun wedding nightmare in 5.13 because, to me, it embodied her fright rather neatly : she does not want to get married for the wrong reasons, bet her future happiness on some random accident.

 

And, until recently, Leonard did not really help assuage that fear. Every time he offered to move the relationship forward, he did it out of the blue, on a whim. The overtures were just things that jumped out his mouth at the weirdest of times. The Valentine's Day episode put an end to that : he showed he understood her fears, even agreed with them a little and reacted brilliantly by putting her in the driver's seat. Now, she can no longer be fearful of the possibility of being caught unawares. That's one fear down and an extra point for Hofstadter. 

 

She needs to feel ready. One might say she already is as ready as she will ever be however it is not how she feels. She still needs some adjusting so she can truly believe she is doing right not just by Leonard but also by herself. 

 

I believe I wrote it before (I am confused now, I post too much) but considering Penny's habitual carelessness, it is quite telling she takes her relationship with Leonard so seriously. Normally, she is the one who just wings it. This time, however, she is uber cautious possibly because this time, it truly matters to her. 

Give the young woman some more time ! It is all still quite fresh. In a year or so, she will be there. And if she is still dragging her feet then, I am certain her friends will have ample time and opportunity to give her a good kick up her shapely backside to make that goddamn mule move forward.

 

Plus you have to give them credit for the friend time because they have seen each other at their worst when they were friends. Leonard learned about Penny's temper while they were only friends. Bottom line is they know enough about each other to get married.

Oh, I do give them credit for that time. It was not wasted by any stretch of the imagination. They did learn a lot about each other as friends. But they assimilated that knowledge differently due to the context.

 

It is all nice and well to have a very dear friend whose mother is a dragon. But when the aforementioned dragon is next in line to become your mother-in-law... It changes things a bit. Your beloved friend has commitment issues ? OK. Your S.O. has commitment issues ? Not OK. 

 

Again, I am not saying they do not know each other enough. Some people get married after a week of dating and manage to make the marriage work forever. How do they do it ? I have no clue but they do. There is no objective quantity of pre-existing knowing required to make a union successful.

What I believe to be Penny's extreme circumspection is not necessary in the absolute yet it seems essential to her. She needs the extra time and knowledge to be absolutely sure she wants to take that leap of faith. Considering she and Leonard are yet to go overboard with the waiting (it has only been a year or so since they reunited), I think her demand can be viewed as legitimate. If nothing changes within the next couple of years or so, however, I'll come down on her like a ton of bricks, I promise.

Edited by Chiara

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My thoughts are that Penny is taking a deep breath mentally to fully accept what she is getting ready to do - marry Leonard Hofstadter "on purpose". He is unlike any guy she's ever been involved with, and she will be embracing a lifestyle that will be very different from what she probably expected. That she's already part of the lifestyle (going to lectures, documentaries, being part of the little nerd community) she's having to deal with the fact that this will be her life. The reality of her being an actress has only shown up once, and quite recently. Clearly this part of her life isn't a part of Leonard's yet.

Further, she's also having to accept that Leonard now stays with her from choice, having clearly had viable, and as many would say, more appropriate partners. She's had nothing going since she dumped him in season 3. Those two things, Leonard has the choice to stay with her or not, and her realizing that she's staying with him because she has no other viable partners, is a lot to accept. And by having no viable partners, I mean none that she will now accept. Zack was a perfectly good boyfriend, for the pre-Leonard Penny. Given that she now wants nerds, Leonard is the best one she's found so far.

There is also the fact that good relationships only work when the two partners have similar intelligences (within 20 IQ points seems to be the accepted range). Given that Leonard has genius level intelligence, that means that Penny must be up there too. She was simply raised in a culture where it was easier to hide her intelligence, and coast on her looks. The rebelliousness of her youth could be attributed to both curiosity and intellectual boredom. I know that when I was growing up, I had the same problem. Getting into college and an intellectually stimulating environment gave me something useful to do with my brains. So far all the jokes about Penny not being so bright, she's intellectually compatible with genius-level or near genius level folks. Of the seven in the group, she appears to be the outsider, but maybe not really. She might be lazier than the others, and not had the other opportunities, but she couldn't hang with that crowd for long if she was outside her class.

So basically Penny is finding out some very unexpected things about herself, by her choice of peer group and partner. It is a big deal to shift one's perception of oneself. She does have some great role models if she thinks about it - smart, nerd actresses. Even one of her co-stars. It will be interesting to see how they develop this, particularly due to the problem of needing to be funny every week, not really having show her as an actress much, and avoiding the dreaded Moonlighting curse. It can be done (see Castle) but it is rare.

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@Chiara

 

That is just not how things work.  Yes there are certain things you can't learn without sharing a bed, like snoring, but almost all of the real deal breakers can be learned as friends over time.  They can be learned even faster if the person you are getting to know is constantly surrounded by his/her friends, friends which do not care about filters. 

 

I gave you a list.  Which thing on that list requires romance to completely explore?

 

It is really hard to hide our true natures.  We may be able to keep certain habits under wraps for a long period of time but the big important things come out.  Chances are the secret you think you are keeping from a lifelong friend he or she is keeping it with you.

 

I really do not know how to respond to the casual attitude about keeping friends.  I have never had a good friend that I took for granted thinking the relationship wasn't important.  While it is true that not all friendships will last I have never been in one that I thought had an expiration date.

 

Penny saw has Leonard reacted to Dr. Stephanie.  She knew he believed he has no say in the relationship.  Besides, how stupid would she have to be to think he would prefer to watch a romantic comedy over a documentary?  She would have known that just as a friend.  In fact, she should have been able to figure that out before the end of the pilot episode.   That friend date was just sloppy writing.

 

She is afraid of commitment.  Her fear of giving in on a whim or because she got knocked up is an extension of her fear of commitment not of doing something improper.  That was made really clear.  The question has always been why she is afraid of commitment and specifically why she is afraid of commitment with Leonard.

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@Hamerman55

 

In fiction, you can be paired up with people very different from yourself.  It may all be for the sake of a joke but Penny's intelligence is often the source of humor... almost as often as her sluttiness.  You can try to imagine she is more than they give her but it is really just imagination.

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@Ar Diem

True, it is fiction. We tend to treat the show as if they were real life characters, but in reality, the writers are going to write what gets a laugh and keeps the audience engaged. If it is also good writing, well that's fine too, but it is all about the ratings. 

Having noted that, a fertile area of writing would be to consider whether Penny is smarter than they often act. I can't think of any truly dumb things she's done. She is written more as lazy. If we are to take the Streetcar scene seriously, she impressed the group with her acting skills in a tough part. The group would know the significance and challenge of Streetcar, so the writers could explore her ability in that area. That she is not good at science certainly hasn't kept her from appreciating it to the point that it is one of the things that attracts her to Leonard. Getting involved in classy stage acting would be interesting, and could keep her local for a while. I imagine LA and SF have pretty darn good stage organizations.

Penny's intelligence is not high, relative to genius level scientists, but then so are most peoples. Part of the fun of the first couple of seasons was based on one of the differences between genius/nerd types, and regular people was the intense focus they bring to a problem. The Halo episode was one, and hits both my points. The guys were so focused that they didn't even notice the door to the apartment being opened, much less that there were four hot girls there. This was also echoed when they started setting up Penny's entertainment center. To the other point, Penny kicked Sheldon's butt in Halo, and beat Leonard in her very first chess game. Leonard gets routinely beaten by Sheldon, but that's no surprise. Maybe Leonard just sucks at chess, but it seems like at the least, Penny is a quick study.

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@Hamerman55

 

I have had this debate too often and too recently to get into it again right now.  They have taken enough shots at her that I don't believe we are simply asked to laugh that she is not as smart as they are but that she is not smart all on her own.  I just don't think there have been enough exceptions.  I do think that attributing her lack of academic knowledge to only laziness is an attempt at apologizing for why they make jokes about her.

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I really do not know how to respond to the casual attitude about keeping friends.  I have never had a good friend that I took for granted thinking the relationship wasn't important.  While it is true that not all friendships will last I have never been in one that I thought had an expiration date.

I do not think I refered to friendships as being "casual". They are most demonstrably not. 

Yet, they are markedly different from romantic relationships in that, no matter how high the level of commitment between two friends may be (and very high it can, in fact, get), no legal document or official declaration is ever required. There is no "contract of friendship", no friendship-related jewelry one is expected to buy/wear for certain occasions or on certain days (except for necklaces and bracelets bearing the letters BFFs, usually bought by teenage girls), no "friendship divorce", etc.

 

It is actually why Sheldon's take on his relationship with Leonard is so funny. These two are, for all means and purposes, friends. Theirs should be a rather relaxed, red tape-free, relationship. However, due to Sheldon's obsession with officiliaty, they have an agreement listing all the duties and rights each partner has. To the casual observer, it may look like a bloody prenup ! 

In The Friendship Contraction, Leonard admitted he would be happy to drive Sheldon around and help him out with all his quirky needs. His main problem was that he did not want to have to do it because of "some sort of silly roommate agreement" and offered for things to go back to how they were before the dispute but without having to sign anything (an offer Sheldon turned down, of course). 

In this instance, Leonard wanted out of the agreement not because of its clauses but because of its binding nature. It made friendship a mandatory interaction instead of a pleasant relationship. 

 

Funnily enough, in his romance with Penny, Leonard is the one who always want things to be more official, more legally binding and Penny is the one who runs aways from signing anything formal, may it be a prenup or even just a joint rental agreement.

Maybe, like Leonard in his friendship with Sheldon, she is pretty OK with all the requirements that would be included in a "couple agreement" (being in a publicly acknowledged relationship; spending most of the time together as a couple; declaring love to each other; offering each other support and care) but ill-at-ease with any of these being turned into a legal duty, 

 

As for the getting to know people as friends/lovers, what can I say without repeating myself ? Yes, we know our friends pretty well, sometimes even more than we know our S.O.s. Yes, there is a great level of intimacy and trust between friends. Yes, we love our friends dearly. But, at no point do we officially decide and declare that our friends will be the same ones for the rest of our lives. Nor do we ever choose one, single friend to be the one and only friend we will ever have.  We can have severeal simultaneous, usually complementary, friends and sometimes, as things change, they are replaced by newcomers without anybody making a huge fuss about it. 

What happens with romantic partners is entirely different. We are supposed to select one and that's it. There shan't be any other during of after that. Romance (and by extension, marriage) is meant to be an exclusive, lifelong deal. Theoretically, we get no more than one shot at this. So I would expect people, including fictional character Penny, to be infinitely more circumspect and thorough with their enquiries when it comes to choosing "the one". 

 

Penny's intelligence is not high, relative to genius level scientists, but then so are most peoples. Part of the fun of the first couple of seasons was based on one of the differences between genius/nerd types, and regular people was the intense focus they bring to a problem. The Halo episode was one, and hits both my points. The guys were so focused that they didn't even notice the door to the apartment being opened, much less that there were four hot girls there. This was also echoed when they started setting up Penny's entertainment center. To the other point, Penny kicked Sheldon's butt in Halo, and beat Leonard in her very first chess game. Leonard gets routinely beaten by Sheldon, but that's no surprise. Maybe Leonard just sucks at chess, but it seems like at the least, Penny is a quick study.

I agree. To me Penny has always been written as remarkably lazy, not stupid. 

Whether it is cooking pasta in non boiling water because she cannot be bothered to wait or dating idiots because they are easy catches, she always chooses the path of least resistance. The girl does not like to work, unless she is personally invested. 

 

She is quite ignorant but that is not a sign of stupidity, merely a sign that she did not pay any attention in class, which fits the idea that unless she is interested in something to start with, she will not bother learning anything about it and flunk it. She never cared for science before she met the guys so she knows absolutely nothing about it. 

Amusingly enough, Sheldon the Genius Cooper displays the exact same tendency. While not lazy by any stretch of the imagination, he is quite narrow-minded when it comes to knowledge. He had no idea what A Streetcar Named Desire, one of the most famous and celebrated theatrical masterpieces in the American canon, was about and only became interested when he started believing there would be trains in it. Had such ignorance been displayed by an unknown character, we would all have assumed s/he was stupid. But we know Sheldon is not. He is merely focused on other things and does not wish to fill his brain with information he considers useless or worse, beneath him.

Penny is the same. When she is invested, she is good at things. When she does not care, she does not even try to be average. 

Edited by Chiara

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Quote from hamerman55, on 18 Mar 2013 - 15:55



Penny's intelligence is not high, relative to genius level scientists, but then so are most peoples.



Genius scientists? Some of them do derivative work. Howard the lesser qualified has achieved and experienced more. Leonard, Sheldon, Raj are progressing very little, if not at all,  with their work at Caltech.  



Part of the fun of the first couple of seasons was based on one of the differences between genius/nerd types and regular people

 

Of course it was the hard core of the show to render it laughable.    



The Halo episode was one, and hits both my points. The guys were so focused that they didn't even notice the door to the apartment
being opened, much less that there were four hot girls there.



In my opinion that was one of the scene to make us believe the Halo night gaming was their way of bonding and nothing else to be allowed in.



This was also echoed when they started setting up Penny's entertainment centre. To the other point, Penny kicked Sheldon's butt in Halo, and beat Leonard in her very first chess game. Leonard gets routinely beaten by Sheldon, but that's no surprise. Maybe Leonard just sucks at chess, but it seems like at the least, Penny is a quick study.



So far this does not prove that Penny is more clever than Sheldon and Leonard. Sheer luck! Perhaps being able to relax better and pick up quick, because her immediate response is more direct and open.

 

(More often don't children play computer games better than adults?)

 

Edited by wannamaker

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"So far this does not prove that Penny is more clever than Sheldon and Leonard. Sheer luck! Perhaps being able to relax better and pick up quick, because her immediate response is more direct and open.

"

 

I don't think Hamerman was saying that Penny is more clever than Sheldon and Leonard are, just more clever than she appears to be.

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@Chiara

 

I think you are off on your own tangent now.  I never said that you can move instantly from friendship into marriage.  What I did say is that most of what you need to know about a person you can learn as friends.  A point you must have agreed to at some point because you said that you can know a friend better than a S.O.

 

The whole point was that you were not giving them credit for the nearly 7 years they have known each other.  When Penny did her big reveal about having commitment issues Leonard said something along the lines of "Obviously" because he knows even the things she hasn't verbalized.

 

They are not moving from friends directly into marriage.  They now have nearly 2 years of a romantic relationship combined with almost 5 years of friendship.  There may be more to learn but it should not be anything that is a deal breaker now.

 

Back to square one... the most plausible reason she has for continuing to delay is her own self-worth issues because Leonard is, for the most part, a constant variable. 

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Quote from Chiara

To me Penny has always been written as remarkably lazy, not stupid. Whether it is cooking pasta in non boiling water because she cannot be bothered to wait.

I agree that is laziness on her part but none of the worse.

I know people who doesn’t even attempt to make a meal from scratch. They use spaghetti from the tins or just warm ready made bolognese in microwave-oven. Or live daily on take away junk food. Worse still many burn everything because they don’t bother to attend in the kitchen.

or dating idiots because they are easy catches,

Her choice of dating the more approachable type of men is because Penny likes to be seen popular around. In fact it proves she does not care much for them for a long term relationship.

she always chooses the path of least resistance.

Well that I cannot be sure. I do not consider Penny stupid or below average. She is perhaps in need of guidance and approval. One of the reasons she is often hanging out in Sheldon’s apartment with the guys.

The girl does not like to work, unless she is personally invested. 

(clever) why should she do things without reward in it.

She is quite ignorant but that is not a sign of stupidity, merely a sign that she did not pay any attention in class, which fits the idea that unless she is interested in something to start with, she will not bother learning anything about it and flunk it.

I am pretty sure Penny is not the only one to find school classes boring. There is plenty of drop-outs and unfulfilled dreams around and not gifted or talented with any particular skills. At least she honestly works for her living. The only thing I am a bit concerned is her drinking habits. I would not want her to end up a deluded alcoholic one day.

She never cared for science before she met the guys  so she knows absolutely nothing about it. 

Penny is not cut out for that kind. I think perhaps psychological studies (if willing to further her education) would do for her because she likes people a lot. Like a sort of social worker. Also Penny does not have a high regard of fanciful degrees, she thinks of it only good for showing off or gaining social status in society.

Amusingly enough, Sheldon the Genius Cooper displays the exact same tendency.

I do not see to compare Sheldon the Genius having the exact same tendency.

While not lazy by any stretch of the imagination, he is quite narrow-minded when it comes to knowledge.

Also Sheldon being narrow-minded when it comes to knowledge?

He had no idea what A Streetcar Named Desire, one of the most famous and celebrated theatrical masterpieces in the American canon.

Because he has no idea about that movie? How many of us miss out on what’s going on current affairs, for instance, no just movies? 

was about and only became interested when he started believing there would be trains in it. Had such ignorance been displayed by an unknown character, we would all have assumed s/he was stupid. But we know Sheldon is not.

In fact he is not. Here perhaps can be said he leaves out what he is not interested in  and follow only what he wants to.

He is merely focused on other things and does not wish to fill his brain with information he considers useless or worse, beneath him.

Penny is the same. When she is invested, she is good at things. When she does not care, she does not even try to be average. 

Penny is average girl of her age. She works an drive, she has interests of some kind and pay her bills and rent. She is in charge of her self. The only thing is her dream to become an actress is a bit farfetched perhaps.

Edited by wannamaker

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I really just think that if the show wanted to make her clearly capable of being smart but just lazy they would have done it.  Instead they have her reading a comic made for a 12yo so slow the other girls think she needs so much of a head start they can make tea.  In the same episode she claims that sun comes up in space and that at least she is street smart.

 

Everything else is an assumption based on what people want to believe is true.

 

It is kind of like the slut and alcohol thing.  She may not be a slut or a slush by the standards of the real world but the show paints that picture quite often and does very little to redeem her.

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Not a lot is mentioned about Penny's family, other than her father Wyatt trying to raise her like a boy, but on Penny's accounts they seem to be a dysfunctional family.

Near the beginning of Season 5, while Penny was eating the last dumpling of their meal, Sheldon made a sarcastic comment to Penny saying, "I've seen pictures of your mother, keep eating," a comment that made Penny quite upset because this implied that Penny's mother might be overweight or obese. Moreover, in episode 10 of season 5, Penny confessed to Bernadette that her mother smoked pot once, while she was pregnant with her, thinking it might be a contributing factor behind her alcohol abuse.

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The funny thing is that for all the speculation about Penny's family being trailer trash, her dad seemed pretty decent. Basically he acted like a dad, worried about his daughter, trying to bond with her boyfriend, hoping to keep an honest relationship with Penny. He played catch with her. If all the events in Wyatt's sole appearance and the first visit of Beverly are true, then Penny's brother must be much younger, if he wasn't born until after she started wearing a training bra. All indications are that Penny was pretty wild, and her brother is a mess. Mom must be something else.

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Don't Penny's family live on a farm? I thought there was some reference to that by her. She said she rebuilt a tractor and once said Howard and friend sounded like a milking machine and I thought there were more references.

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The funny thing is that for all the speculation about Penny's family being trailer trash, her dad seemed pretty decent. Basically he acted like a dad, worried about his daughter, trying to bond with her boyfriend, hoping to keep an honest relationship with Penny. He played catch with her. If all the events in Wyatt's sole appearance and the first visit of Beverly are true, then Penny's brother must be much younger, if he wasn't born until after she started wearing a training bra. All indications are that Penny was pretty wild, and her brother is a mess. Mom must be something else.

 

I just thought... Along with all the images they've conjured up about Penny, we've never really seen any proof of Sheldon's intelligence either. He supposedly has all these awards, honors, etc... But as far as actual first-hand knowledge, there is little to none. He's never done anything that we, the viewer have been privy to. Hell, Barry Kripke has even been made to look smarter than Sheldon.

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I just thought... Along with all the images they've conjured up about Penny, we've never really seen any proof of Sheldon's intelligence either. He supposedly has all these awards, honors, etc... But as far as actual first-hand knowledge, there is little to none. He's never done anything that we, the viewer have been privy to. Hell, Barry Kripke has even been made to look smarter than Sheldon.

 

You know that would make a great, funny episode. What if Penny had to take an IQ test, for some reason, and they found out she actually had a high IQ, but she never had the education, and maybe she even had a little AD, that gave her a short attention span, like Sheldon is always saying.  That would explain why she is attracted to the gang, and it would drive Sheldon nuts that she was actually a smart person and not a blonde monkey.

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I just thought... Along with all the images they've conjured up about Penny, we've never really seen any proof of Sheldon's intelligence either. He supposedly has all these awards, honors, etc... But as far as actual first-hand knowledge, there is little to none. He's never done anything that we, the viewer have been privy to. Hell, Barry Kripke has even been made to look smarter than Sheldon.

 

 

You mean just at the university, right?  They have kept his successes there are on the light side but in every other aspect of his life we have witnessed many examples that prove his intelligence.

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I recall that when she was commenting on the milking machine, she prefaced it by saying that she grew up on a farm. But much of the first season hasn't really stuck as canon. As mentioned in another forum, they seem to morph Penny around more than the guys in order to serve the joke of the day. By keeping her background vague, they can do this more easily.

@SRAM, I agree it would be really funny if it turned out that Penny was proved to be a lot smarter than expected. I maintain that she has to be pretty smart to find the guys all that interesting. She seems to be able to tolerate the things that Leonard finds interesting (documentaries for example) which isn't really in the original presentation of the character.

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That is so true that the Penny character is the most screwed around with character in the show. At least Season 6 hasn't been too bad, but they still can't seem to leave the character alone. I sometimes think she is going to tell Amy and Bernadette she has a kid somewhere or she was once married.

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