Be honest! If you saw a couple like Big Bang Theory’s Leonard and Penny walking down the street, you’d probably think poor Leonard was in the “friend-zone”. Either that, or he has a lot of money. Penny is very much the quintessential “hot blonde”, from her blonde hair and blue eyes, to her breasts that “defy gravity” (according to the “Amy” character), her legs, her assets. Leonard is kinda cute in his own nerdy way, but he’s short, he’s no Brad Pitt, he wears glasses, and is too much of a nice guy. Guys like Leonard are usually “just friends” with girls like Penny. Yet, as Big Bang Theory enters its 8th Season, there they are together again…and engaged!
My first instinct is to say, “only on TV”. However, I’m a big fan of the show and have paid close attention to these two since the beginning. A younger, naïve Penny likely would have seen Leonard as a sweet guy who could be a good “friend”. Many girls with Penny’s looks and insecurity would happily string poor Leonard along to give themselves an ego boost between dating, as Penny calls them, “dumb guys from the gym”. Penny has certainly been around, as the Big Bang series began with Penny heartbroken from dating a big jerk with huge muscles and a bad attitude. As the series continues, we learn more about Penny’s promiscuous past. However, from day 1, she was always warm, open minded, but deeply flawed. Some fans of the show claim that Penny only uses Leonard when she’s depressed, insecure, or just wants a man and has nobody else available. Genuine friends do lean on each other when they’re depressed or insecure. There was also one particular episode when Penny was drunk and attempted to have a one-night stand with Leonard. However, she turned down Zack (a rather handsome “dumb guy from the gym” type) to be with Leonard that night. While it certainly wasn’t Penny’s finest moment, I think it shows that deep down, her feelings for Leonard were developing.
Consider also how Penny has gone out of her way to make Leonard happy. She threw him his first birthday party late in the first season, because he never had them growing up. Despite her financial woes, she bought him several thoughtful gifts that she herself had no interest in, such as a vintage Star Trek transporter toy. Furthermore, during those periods when they weren’t dating, Penny often gave Leonard helpful advice with women. Lastly on this point, she cried when Leonard left for his trip to the Arctic Circle. Penny may be insecure, reckless, and yes, willing to turn to Leonard to bail her out of bad situations she’s put herself into; but she’s also kind, considerate, and loyal as a friend. Women as attractive as Penny are often shallow and stuck up – but not Penny. She sees beneath the surface.
I think that after that four year relationship that Penny was in before the series began, she grew as a person. The continued bad experiences with that ex-boyfriend matured her to the point where she would finally consider a sweet guy like Leonard. She finds him cute, and definitely cares about him. Does she have a strong, bestial attraction to him? Nope! And why is that necessary? I know this is just a TV show, but while Penny and Leonard’s relationship is unusual, I do find it believable. Rare, but believable. Penny may not be a science genius like Leonard or Sheldon, but she has street smarts. Her street smarts led her to a wise decision to invest her love in Leonard, and I look forward to seeing it continue. As for Leonard, his biggest flaw with Penny has always been his – to put it bluntly – his spinelessness. Once when they were on a weird, “friendship” “not really a date” type…whatever it was, Leonard started being more assertive and Penny liked that. I think Penny wants Leonard to be more assertive, in part because she cares about him, but also because she’s a woman, and women are attracted to that. It’s just human nature. So, in conclusion, if Leonard is assertive, makes Penny happy but doesn’t bend over backwards trying to appease her, I think they both will have a bright future indeed. Well, the new season starts tonight, and I can’t wait!