TBBT Finale: Internet backlash regarding Penny
The worst comments have already been removed by mods on several sites, but the fact still remains that people seem to be blaming the hook up on Penny. The writers seem to have no respect for Penny, and the audience even less. An alarming number of commentators see Penny as Leonard's property and this new development means that Raj "used" Leonard's "property". The situation seems slightly better after the initial shock wore off, but several of the comments meant as "supportive" of the hook up actually contain sexist tones. Even those who are not that enthusiastic about Penny and Leonard deem that her relations with men are getting a tad too numerous for their tastes and express their opinions accordingly (also in the round up). Do you think the writers should stop bringing over npcs for her to sleep with, should Raj and Penny get together for a more permanent entanglement or do you think Penny has been with too many men already and your ultimate OTP on the show is Penny/career? Is her way of dating the norm or out of the norm?
I realize that the show has been from the guys' perspective since the beginning, but the differential treatment the guys get in terms of one night stands or brief flings as opposed to what the reaction is to Penny doing it is very unnerving to me. For example Howard has had sex with prostitutes, but this in no way affects his relationship with Bernadette, Raj and especially Leonard have both had one night stands but nobody judged them for it and thought they were "ruined" after wards. The point here is not to compare for example Leonard's hook ups to Penny's, but to compare the treatment they receive on the show and off the show, in the series and by the fans. I've heard people mention that since it's a show by men to a mixed audience, maybe more often to men, it still contains more of the guys' opinion on several matters, including the treatment of women and men, which presents itself as the guys coming off as heroes when they get sex and women as "damaged goods" if they "give it up". How can we as an audience influence this type of thinking? Can we influence the show itself?
Raj' conversation with Leonard in the episode as he questioned Leonard about whether he can bring girls over (in Leonard's room) while he stays there, lead to Leonard joking about it. This in its turn lead some people to "support" Raj by being glad that he "took revenge" on Leonard mocking him by sleeping with his ex-girlfriend (comments on the round up). The idea of getting revenge on a man by "ruining" his girlfriend is a very old one, but unfortunately still exists in our culture as well as others, the situation between Raj, Penny and Leonard (and Priya) being a contemporary version of it. Raj even invoked it on the show with the "dishonor on the house of Hofstadter" bit. It was laughed at as ridiculous on the show, but the fans seem to be still more than hung up on the idea. We should be moved past the concept, but these fans suggest otherwise. What do you think?
Then there are the people who have invoked the Bro code on those condemning the hook up, and think that since Leonard "ruined" Raj's sister, Raj is allowed to "ruin" Penny. While these people are already slightly more supportive of the situation, the fact remains that it's all about the guys, and their right to have sex. Very few seem to remember that it's the 21st century and women have the same rights as men do. In the round up I made, there's a comment that illustrates this by saying that Raj did everything right according to the bro code, but proceeds to speculate over how many men has Penny had sex with. Comments that I did not add to the round up saying "Penny and Raj are both single, there was nothing wrong with what they did" do exist, but depending on where one looks there seem to be more negative comments or the aforementioned "supportive but still emitting the same sexist ideal that those condemning them are".
There has also been a few remarks on Penny's weight (the result of Cuoco breaking her leg). I chose the one on the round up because it also raises a point about Penny's role on the show (in the comment "sex symbol" of the show). Penny has always been quite a neglected character, and the addition of Bernadette and Amy to the cast has not helped to make the writers focus on her (at least not in a good way, as we've seen). Penny remains the most socially savvy of the group, but now that even Howard Wolowitz is in a committed relationship, what value does that hold anymore? I'm afraid even or especially the writers have forgotten her purpose in the show. Where do you think they should develop her character? What is her role on the show right now to you in comparison to what it was in the beginning?