Why portraying Amy as a popular girl has a deep meaning

Hello people of the Universe!

I am coming back with a nice subject to talk about: being recognized and loved by others for who you are. It is not an easy topic and this issue seems pretty recurrent nowadays. I, for my part, struggle with socialization and people’s opinion about me, I often question my place and purpose in this universe, and I wonder what I could bring into the light or why people should like the person I am. I am not confident. I am smart but I can’t be proud of it without being told to stop showing off. I am hardworking and I love studying, but people consider my pastimes like a burden, not like a pleasant moment, and they keep complaining about me not going out or not doing what normal young people do. But yesterday, between two classes, while I was inside on a bench, trying to escape from the cold wind, I took twenty minutes to watch the last episode of The Big Bang Theory and I must say it warmed my world up.


In this episode, Amy and Penny go to a party launched by Bert, the geologist who wanted to go out with Amy in season 7. Only the two of them show up but what could have been a boring moment became much more interesting and deep than expected. In fact, with all his honesty, Bert affirms to the ladies that Amy is a popular girl at Caltech and obviously, he is not the only one to believe it.

So Amy, the quiet, sweet, shy, quirky woman of the show, is popular. At first, it sounds funny, we are not used to seeing her character highlighted or having a powerful position in her relationships or as a neurobiologist. I also wondered if it was another way to make fun of her as Penny is often described as the prettiest and the most socially accepted. But it was not. This revelation has been very helpful to Amy, and it might have been to people who relate to her in real life. Besides Amy not usually being the popular girl and having had a complicated adolescence, we see emerging deeper issues and societal concerns that are almost unnoticed if you watch the episode without questionning it.

As a feminist, I immediately reacted when Bert said: “Sheldon is popular because he is dating Amy.” Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you, maybe you don’t see the point I want to make, but Sheldon is defined by Amy. The man, the boyfriend, the scientist, is described by his relationship with Amy. If you try to be aware of what is going on in our societies nowadays, you have certainly noticed that women are always associated to men, whether they are their husbands, fathers, brothers, coaches, bosses… there is always a way to disempower them, to put them under a guardianship and to make sure they are assisted by a man who represents wisdom, intelligence, strength; a man who knows how to handle things, how to be respected; a man who takes care of the woman like a little bird or a young girl, makes sure she doesn’t make too many mistakes and apologizes in her name in case she does. So seeing that Amy fully exists, that she is recognized within Caltech for her work, her perspicacity, her ingenuity (and, I think, her caring personality) is really appreciable and almost revolutionary. Actually, the world of Science is predominantly masculine and knowing that a female researcher can be respected for her hardwork and be considered a scientist, not only a woman, gives hope to the next generation of scientific dreamers.

I am emotional when I think that the show has pictured a female neurobiologist as a popular person. One of the purposes of TBBT is to present nerds and geeks as lovable, funny, interesting and worthy people who deserve their place on this earth. It gives another definition to the very teenagish word popular. Penny has always represented the beautiful girl, loved and envied for being spontaneous and creative. She knows how to liven things up, get out of her comfort zone to make new experiences and share them with her friends. But being popular means you are supported by people who like you for who you are and obviously, Penny’s friends are very different from Amy’s few ones, which highlights a totally new vision of what makes you popular. Amy has never followed the codes, she is outside of the box, but she is good at a job she loves, making her a pleasant coworker and a person you want to discuss with because she shares the same interests as you. Bert says that both the ladies are hot, meaning that popularity is often related to beauty. But as beauty, it is very subjective and very different regarding people’s tastes and preferences. Showing such a rich pattern of possibilities is a good way to make differences more acceptable and visible.

I do think it gives hope to know that anybody can be popular, even after high school. But, in fact, it is not really the notion of being popular that matters. I believe the writers used that word to make a parallele with Penny, but they could have used the word appreciated, or even loved. Being popular is a status, being loved is a state, and I think Amy is in a phase of accepting herself and it becomes easier because she knows she has friends and coworkers who love her and recognize her.

Because the pregnancy issue faced by Bernadette is so well explained in several articles and as I am less concerned by it, I wanted to concentrate on something that seemed very funny and cute but that could teach us a lesson. I hope you enjoyed the episode as much I did.

Love and keep rocking,



2 thoughts on “Why portraying Amy as a popular girl has a deep meaning

  1. And yet, they continuously have Penny point out the reason she got married was because Leonard “wore her down” or couldn’t even articulate why she married him to the psychologist last season. And Leonard relishing the idea of his getting the “hot girl”, not to mention Penny excited to be that “hot girl”. These two things sends what kind of message?


    • Penny’s character has many positive qualities (she is creative, loving, funny, gets along with many people etc) but she is always represented as the stupide but hot friend. I do agree with you on the point that some aspects of her personality are stereotypical, but this is who she is. And she has already explained why she married Leonard or why she is with him. I don’t think she is the problem, I think the issue comes from how Leonard describes her. They are both able to say why they are together, but Leonard keeps referring to Penny’s beauty a lot. Anyway, I get your point.


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