Creators Did Penny Dirty At Both Start And End Of Big Bang Theory

Creators Did Penny Dirty At Both Start And End Of Big Bang Theory
Image credit: CBS

Kaley Cuoco was able to step in and improve Penny's early arc, but she couldn't change the ending.


  • The portrayal of women on The Big Bang Theory does not sit well with many viewers.
  • For example, Penny, who was the only female lead in the early seasons, was written as a flat, stereotypical character who embodied the 'pretty girl next door' trope.
  • Fortunately, over time, the writers realized their mistake and allowed Kaley Cuoco to help develop her character.
  • However, at the end of her arc, the writers once again failed Penny.

For many viewers, there's no better sitcom than The Big Bang Theory. The story of the Pasadena-based scientists, their colleagues, friends and families is full of amazing geek humor, hilariously bizarre situations and hysterically funny dialogue.

But there's at least one issue that hasn't sat well with many viewers: the show's attitude toward and portrayal of women.

Penny was one-dimensional and overly sexualized in the beginning

For example, the only (in the early seasons) main female character, Penny, was written as this one-dimensional, pretty, stereotypical blonde next door, the girl whose sole purpose was to challenge the male protagonists and make their arcs more colorful.

The actress who played the character, Kaley Cuoco, once told W Magazine that she felt Penny's costumes in the early seasons were overly sexualized.

'I started Big Bang at 21 years old. It was the cute girl-next-door to the nerds, right?' Cuoco said. 'It was all about booty shorts and Juicy Couture zip-ups and all these crazy [outfits].'

Even creator Chuck Lorre admitted in the book of interviews about the show that the writing team initially overlooked the potential of the female lead.

'One of the most underwritten characters in the show early on was Penny,' Lorre said. 'It was really obvious immediately that we hadn't developed the character beyond the pretty girl next door, and Kaley was certainly capable of doing a great deal more than what was asked of her.'

Fortunately, with the actress' involvement, Penny's character began to change, becoming much more complicated and sympathetic. She didn't become book smart, but her street smarts and deep understanding of people's quirks and dynamics earned her the status of a fan favorite.

However, by the end of the show, the character was once again done dirty.

Penny's arc came to an unsatisfying end against Cuoco's wishes

In the final twelfth season, the main conflict in Penny and Leonard's marriage is about having children. While Leonard is ready to be a father, it was never a plan for Penny.

But in the finale, Penny finds out she's pregnant and accepts it, which sends a very confusing message. Kaley Cuoco said in the same book of interviews that if it were up to her, she wouldn't force her character to become a parent against her wishes.

'I actually wished that they did not [make Penny pregnant], because I loved that message [of Penny not wanting kids] so much,' Cuoco said. 'It was cute how the writers did it at the end with Penny's surprise pregnancy, and all in all I'm glad, but I was actually voting for her not to [get pregnant].'

Well, it looks like the creators of The Big Bang Theory may have warmed up to their female lead, but they still put male protagonists first. Even after 12 years.

Sources: W Magazine, The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.