I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and here’s my official take on what’s going on and the reactions to it. Penny and Aggie’s relationship, once it turned romantic, has been remarkably cerebral. It’s involved a great deal of consideration, thought, contemplation, questioning, and uncertainty. Consider: their first romantic interaction was a very brief, very chaste kiss, which ended with Penny calling Aggie her “pretend girlfriend”. Following that, we spent a good portion of the month of June watching the two of them wrestle with their thoughts and feelings about what that single kiss meant. Aggie was terrified that Penny would change her the way she changed Rich and Karen, while Penny was nervously awaiting Aggie’s response to her overtures. During all of this, the fanbase wanted to know where the fireworks were. Where’s the chemistry? Why are they moving so slowly? June ended with their taking another step by solidifying that they were, indeed, in some form of relationship. More “probing” kisses followed that first one, and Penny moved toward drawing Aggie into her world to some degree by changing her wardrobe.
Again, all of this was really very subdued. It was a lot of testing the waters for several reasons. First, neither of them had been in a same-sex relationship, and weren’t entirely sure what this said about them. Second, Aggie had never been in ANY kind of relationship, and didn’t know how to act. Third, their relationship had been a rollercoaster of heated battles and antagonism for years. Where did this leave them now?
We entered July with the relationship entering a new phase, and in many ways it was the beginning of what we’re now seeing. After a lot of tentativeness and uncertainty, the girls started to find their footing with some of their old banter and antagonism. Yes, it was different than it was before, but it was still more familiar than where they were in June. What did June start with? The girls wrestling at the beach and calling each other names. There was still far too much uncertainty for them to move into a sexual encounter at this point, but they were bringing their old rivalry into their relationship in a way that they both enjoyed. Don’t buy it? Look at that last panel after their wrestling match and the fond look on Aggie’s face as she calls Penny by her new pet name. June continued in this way, with discussion with the parents, discussion with each other, and still more uncertainty about what they meant to one another and where the relationship was going.
Here we’re still in the midst of a very cerebral relationship… one where hormones are playing only the tiniest of roles, despite the fact that two inexperienced teenage girls are involved. That’s remarkable. Both of them kept their impulses and hormones tightly under control while they tried to understand their own feelings and thoughts about what they were experiencing.
Come August, Penny fully reaches out to Aggie, trying to connect with her in a way she’ll understand: through her own writing and introspection. Aggie responds by reaching out to Penny in a way she thinks she’ll understand: by pushing their relationship past that sexual barrier and initiating an encounter to which she thinks Penny will respond. This also has the effect of unleashing the aforementioned hormones, which had been tightly contained (much to the fanbase’s annoyance) for more than two months.
What am I getting at? That this is a remarkably complex relationship and that’s based on only TWO MONTHS of comic time. You have two teenage girls still feeling their way through a relationship neither of them expected to be in: two former sworn enemies now contemplating building a life together. They don’t yet fully understand how to relate to one another, though they’ve made huge strides in this area. They don’t yet fully know what they mean to one another, though they’ve made a lot of progress. They DO know how to fight. They know how to push each other’s buttons and how to get a rise out of one another, though whereas once that led to soda in the face now it leads to sex. Why aren’t they sitting down and having a rational discussion, people are asking? Because that’s not who either of them are, and that’s not the way their relationship has ever worked except during that brief span when they didn’t know how to act around one another. Why isn’t their relationship progressing in a loving, nurturing, romantic fashion? Because they’ve never had that kind of relationship. That DOESN’T mean it can’t take on more and more of those aspects as time goes by, but they’re never going to have a “traditional” romantic relationship, because they’ve never had a traditional friendly relationship.
What is clear at this point is that this is all very much mutual. There is pushing here, yes, but there’s also support, and there’s understanding. There’s confusion and there’s uncertainty, yes, but this is the case in any relationship, and it’s bound to be even more pronounced in a relationship as complicated as this one. I know people are panicking and freaking out after the last few encounters, but how much of that is because P&A aren’t behaving the way we all expect a traditional couple to behave, and when have P&A ever been a traditional couple?