The contrast between Amy and Penny has always bothered me but I couldn’t work out if that was me over-analysing things.
The conceptualization of Amy’s character could have been awesome. I love the presence of female characters with a science background who can hold their own. As noted by Michelle Haimoff in 2012, Amy is accomplished but undatable “while Penny, the hot waitress, is the one the male characters lust after.” The science geek stereotype is old. So is the she’s-hot-so-she-must-be-dumb stereotype. And what’s with not giving Penny a last name? Isn’t her character worthy of a full identity?
The lovely thing about creating television is that you can make people whomever you want them to be without real world consequences. Scripts don’t need to follow any rules. It’s pretty lazy to apply gender biases and stereotypes to fictional spaces if those biases and stereotypes aren’t providing alternatives to the status quo. I promise, it is possible to write female characters who have experiences that aren’t based in misogyny.