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BazingaFan

The Character Development Of Amy Farrah Fowler

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Besides Howard, the character of Amy Farrah Fowler has grown/ changed the most of all the characters on this show (and in just three seasons).  I’d like to explore the circumstances and reasons why this may have taken place.

 

What has occurred to cause a character to go from: I find the notion of romantic love to be an unnecessary cultural construct that adds no value to human relationships to…

 

part of me wants more (with emotion in her eyes).

 

What has occurred on the show to cause these major changes in her character?  Was it just the influence of Penny, or is there more to it?  Do you feel that Amy always felt this way, but kept it hidden in the beginning?  And, perhaps, becoming friends with Penny and becoming closer to Sheldon has caused her to reveal her true self?

 

I’m not sure how I feel on this subject, but they are questions I ponder on.

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Well, it depends on whether we talk about a writing POV or a character POV.

 

From a writing POV, it is obvious that they needed to develop her to be something other than a clone of Sheldon for her to stick around and be her own character. I think the line in 6x03 when Leonard says "We already have you for all that" to Sheldon pretty much sums up why they had to change her. Also, in order to take their relationship somewhere one of them had to be ahead of the other and drag the other along through changes and development, and they weren't going to have Sheldon be the one to do that. The problem is that, Amy being a secondary character, the writers are much more careless about what they do with her and her characterization than they are with Sheldon (although he has been all over the place too, on occasion). So you have moments like last season where she suddenly seems a bit too normal for comfort. 

 

From a character POV, I think it is definitely the other side of the coin to Sheldon's stance on being the weirdo of the group. Like TPTB say often, they both had a very lonely and sheltered upbringing, but once faced with the 'outside world' they reacted differently. Amy is all for it, Sheldon doesn't care. I think that both stances are understandable and realistic, and I think they can both learn from each other thanks to that. I think it make sense that she would be the one that Sheldon looks up to in order to come out of his own shell, since he had never met anyone he considered to be his intellectual equal before, and if he sees that she can still be the superiorly intellectual woman she always was while embracing new experiences, he can learn that it isn't all a mutually exclusive either/or thing. Amy is more open minded than he is, and that's healthier in the long run, probably.

 

However, Amy can learn that there are a lot of silly overrated things in the 'outside world'. I always thought she is going through a teenage phase where she is rather immature about a whole bunch of things that Sheldon is more mature on (the whole adoration of Penny and popularity and her unrealistic notions of romance she sometimes has, for example), and viceversa, she is more mature than him on other things (being open minded and less irrationally stubborn about things out of principle). We often talk about child-Sheldon, but there's definitely a lot of teenage-Amy too. I don't think that she's "showing her true self" as much as she's just reacting to contexts and circumstances she had never been in before (i.e. having friends and a boyfriend) and she reacts to them the way most people would when they are much younger. 

 

I think her development, while maybe a bit too fast and erratic, is not really all that unrealistic. I am just always wary of the writers being careless with her and forgetting her quirks and idiosyncrasies to serve plots, or because it's easier to write her as a more "regular" girl than it is to write her as the odd one, especially when it comes to her interactions with Sheldon (she is still the odd duck when it comes to interacting with the other characters). I know different people probably have different thresholds at which Amy is considered "too normal"; for me it's been pretty darn close last season, if not even over the line on  occasion. I hope this season we will see a bit of a return to S4/S5 Amy, or an equally odd but more mature Amy when she comes out of her teenage phase. The Amy of the Priya era is probably still my favorite Amy. 

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I think that Amy was shut-off like Sheldon, but as she met him and he invited her to stay and have her tepid water with him, I think she was surprised someone wanted to actually try to get to know her.   Obviously we don't have much to go on between that 3.23 episode and the 4.01 episode where it is supposedly four months later and they had been skyping and texting daily.   Clearly their time at the coffee shop went extremely well enough to exchange phone numbers and skype handles.   I find this was huge in that both were stepping out of comfort zone to do so.   Then it is unclear which of them initiated the first time, but my gut is telling me Sheldon did.  I think he found Amy fascinating that she was "so much like him".   I think she was a lot like him because like him she had stifled so much and repressed so much.  

 

Over time, Sheldon not only introduced Amy to Penny, but to the gang.   Suddenly she went to being a loner to being someone who was making friends.  I think that stirred something inside to allow all those repressed feelings of wanting friends, needing love, and needing acceptance to bubble forward.   Through Bernadette and Penny she began to explore what it meant to have gal pals and that included mistaking some of her emotions with what she really wanted (thus the Penny crush).   But the more she got to know Sheldon, I think he brought out in her her libido and romantic feelings.   She started to connect to him not only intellectually, but she loved everything about him.  She loved his appearance, his quirks, his outlook on life and really all of it.  She related to him because both had similar experiences when it came to trying to make friends and make growing up "the weird one".   I think after Zach awakened her awareness that she can have sexual arousal, she started to have more and more romantic feelings toward Sheldon.  It didn't mean he "got her motor running" immediately, but she was falling in love with the man first and then her body began to react and arousal set in after because that is natural when you fall in love with someone.   I think her emotions and feelings came forward quicker than Sheldon's because she was more open to what life has to offer in general and really wanted to be part of a friendship and have a boyfriend when she was younger.  Sheldon avoided all of that as much as possible.

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I agree with what you said star

I do think the penny crush was because she never really had close friends before and she was unsure how to deal with those feelings, though its very clear now that she is over that crush!

I also think that as much as she is aroused by Sheldon she is a little nervous about actual coitus as evidenced by her nervyiness during the d&d roleplay

She understands Sheldon more than anybody and is happy to go shopping and wait with him while he optimises the cheese aisle, any of the others would of left long before that

I am looking forward to more Amy development in S7 and Sheldon "working" on things with her :)

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I think the thing to remember when discussing Amy's development is that although she and Sheldon started in similar places on the show, they didn't necessarily get there the same way. Sheldon's quirks are clearly deeply rooted in what is most likely bio-chemical or neurological sources, whereas Amy's quirks probably developed as a defense mechanism against her social isolation. When they are given the opportunity to expand their social circles Sheldon responds by  maintaining his position as much as possible (hence all his contractual agreements) in order to keep his core characteristics from being forced down, but Amy attempts to move past the behavioral quirks she has developed in order to integrate with others.

 

That is why Amy and Sheldon both start from a complete disinterest in romantic involvement to where they are now. Sheldon is not interested because he literally cannot see the appeal of an intimate relationship, but Amy's disinterest is a defense mechanism against the disappointment of not having a romantic relationship (after all not having something only hurts if you actually want it). This also likely the cause of her frustrations with Sheldon and the pace of their relationship, she allowed herself to want a real relationship with him only to find herself still without that relationship.

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We do not know for certain why Sheldon is the way he is, that's the whole point of the show not labeling him. First of all, it is entirely possible to develop most, if not all, of Sheldon's attitude towards life and relationships without having a "condition" (not to mention that "condition" is widely varied). This is especially true when we talk about Sheldon's disinterest in intimate relationships so far. And it's not a one-way street when it comes to the brain in any case. But I'm not going to launch on a discussion of neural plasticity in here :p

 

I think the sentence in 6x23 about not being interested in being intimate with anyone before meeting Amy says a lot in terms of the direction the writers are likely to go. If you say Sheldon is hard-wired (not that such a thing exists) to be disinterested in intimate relationships implies that he will only give in to please Amy, whereas, from the tidbits we got this year, it's going to be more of an awakening on Sheldon's part. Actually, the whole relationship and how it developed speaks more in terms of Sheldon being in denial about it but wanting it himself (just like he is in denial about other types of relationships in his life, be it friendship or what have you): the whole of S5 is full with Sheldon being all up in arms with jealousy and moving their relationship forward without any prodding on her part. I mean, she did go out with Stuart just to give it a go, and Sheldon decided he did not want her to and he wanted her for himself. That's not a guy who literally cannot see the appeal and will only give in to make her happy. People always talk about Shamy as if Amy was the one who forced Sheldon into a relationship and she is the one who wants this and that, but HE was the one who initiated it and continues to be in it. S6 is probably a lot to blame for this, since the writing of Shamy changed a lot.

 

I also do not know that all of Amy's behaviors prior to meeting the gang were exclusively a defense mechanism. Some of them probably were, but, again, she might have simply had not as much interest in having friends or romantic relationships as she had about science. When she had to prioritize, seeing the way she was bullied and shunned, she might have decided it simply wasn't worth it. Again, we have seen again and again how it isn't the romantic relationship itself that Amy wants but one with Sheldon. Otherwise, she'd be off already with some other guy.

 

I don't think it's necessarily black vs white when it comes to why the two of them are the way they are or how they got there. And I like that these things are not being spelled out but allow a bit of room for interpretation.

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Besides Howard, the character of Amy Farrah Fowler has grown/ changed the most of all the characters on this show (and in just three seasons).  I’d like to explore the circumstances and reasons why this may have taken place.

 

What has occurred to cause a character to go from: I find the notion of romantic love to be an unnecessary cultural construct that adds no value to human relationships to…

 

part of me wants more (with emotion in her eyes).

 

What has occurred on the show to cause these major changes in her character?  Was it just the influence of Penny, or is there more to it?  Do you feel that Amy always felt this way, but kept it hidden in the beginning?  And, perhaps, becoming friends with Penny and becoming closer to Sheldon has caused her to reveal her true self?

 

I’m not sure how I feel on this subject, but they are questions I ponder on.

 

We don't know and that is the problem with Amy. There has been no revelation, like their was with Howard. The character is normal now but not all the time. She's all over the place and I think it's just badly written. 

 

I think they just changed Amy when they realized the creepy remarks towards Penny were upsetting a lot of fans. They keep changing her because they don't really know what to do with her. All these ideals here, are just theories because what happened on the shows never showed any real progression. They didn't give Amy the attention they needed to make her changes realistic. I don't think there is any character development. 

Edited by Spaced_up

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I think the thing to remember when discussing Amy's development is that although she and Sheldon started in similar places on the show, they didn't necessarily get there the same way. Sheldon's quirks are clearly deeply rooted in what is most likely bio-chemical or neurological sources, whereas Amy's quirks probably developed as a defense mechanism against her social isolation.

 

 

I don't completely agree with this.  We've been shown time and time again that Sheldon has deep-rooted bitterness from his childhood, so it can't just be bio-chemical or neurological.  Like Amy, Sheldon has issues, ranging from bullies to lack of support from members of his family (when it comes to science, that is).  

 

But, I'm getting off the subject, and I really have many comments to make about Amy.  I will reply later today when I get home from work.  :)

Edited by BazingaFan

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I totally disagree that they kept changing her because they didn't know what to do with her. It was clear from early S4 that they were going down the route of Penny and Bernadette being an influence in her life, from the moment they had her ditch the guys for the girls night at Penny. One might argue that they changed her too much, or changed her too soon, or too fast, and that she's definitely a hard one to handle because they want her to be quirky, but not too quirky, but not too normal. So in that sense the writing is often erratic. I think the change from Prady to Molaro was a problem in particular, since Prady created her and I think knows her better than Molaro does (I wrote a lot of times about how there was a definite sudden change from 5x23 Amy to 6x01 Amy). But that they were going to tell the story of Amy suddenly having friends and diving into a delayed adolescence and all that comes with it was something that was set up very very early on and has continued ever since (whether they could have chosen a different kind of story with her is another matter). I do not think there is one thing about her that cannot be explained under that framework. If you do, please give some examples. 

Edited by koops

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I have never thought that Amy "changed". I think rather that the authors have decided to point a specific trait and sometimes it could seem like an entire character change but actually is not.  It's like a spot in a big room. You can decide to focus it on one corner and then on the other. The corners can seem very different even if  we still in the same room. However I can see two "changes" but I prefer using the term of growing.

 

First, her attitude toward Penny. As you pointed out before, Amy is very curious and not afraid of experimenting new things, including all the girly/popular things that she hadn't had the timelineless to try. With Penny, she had that chance and she took it wholeheartedly. But we can see in S6 that her attitude is slowly changing, she does not look at Penny like a goddess anymore. Now that she had experiencing it, she doesn't see the point to act different in order to still Penny's friend. So we're back to the real/normal Amy.

 

The second point is her attitude toward Sheldon. The "I find the notion of romantic love to be an unnecessary cultural construct that adds no value to human relationships" is in fact not compatible with her current behaviour. The answer is simple ; before Sheldon, she had never experienced a romantic relationship or developp similar feelings. It's all new. Therefor it's not a surprise that she had such a thought and it's more obvious when you see with which kind of stereotypes she defines love/sex/etc... But now that her feelings grow, her attitude toward him is changing automatically. New feelings lead to new needs and then to a new behaviour. Logic

 

For the rest, I agree with koops, the inconsistency that may occur are writers' errors and that's why I could admit that some people are not able to discern this character clearly.

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I think that line ("I find the notion of romantic love...etc. etc.") is the equivalent of Sheldon's wedding speech. Or the line he said to her about not being interested in intimacy with anyone before her. Sheldon doesn't *need* a SO for the sake of having a SO or a relationship. He never has. Then he met Amy and things changed. If Amy were to leave him, he would not be searching for a "replacement", so his behavior at the moment (i.e. being in a relationship with Amy) isn't contradicting that wedding speech, because it's not about the relationship as a construct but it's about Amy as a person.

 

The same line of reasoning goes for Amy's "notion of romantic love". So far we have only seen instances where she states that she wants Sheldon, not a boyfriend or romantic love per-se. So her behavior isn't necessarily in contradiction with that line. But even if we found out that she does indeed want romantic love in itself now, it would simply mean she has changed her mind. Just like Sheldon is changing his mind about intimacy. I don't think changing one's mind is contradiction, or hypocritical. It's just a realistic consequence of being faced with new evidence or new experiences. 

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