Penny wants to be an actress/ but they do show she aspires to something more than the Cheesecake Factory.
If this were a deeper show, I'd give the writers credit for showing both characters as deeply flawed, because neither of them comes off particularly well.
It's interesting reading posts about takes on the characters, but I do think you've all given much more thought to their lives/ work/ relationships than the writers have. For instance, I can't believe Penny is still at CCF, and lives in Pasadena. If she were like 20-something actresses in LA, she'd be living someplace else, and going to the gym far more often. I can't believe any one of the "doctors" haven't purchased a house (they don't seem to be money smart imo) and for Sheldon, something near the Gold line (LA subway and it's like a train!)
This show is so successful - money and ratings- I bet they have the money to make a new set so Penny could waitress at a better place -- but they won't. She's stuck there. I can't see TPTB even let them grow out and up. When Seinfeld got more money, the characters went all over, they had street scenes, walking scenes, wherever George worked, Elaine's various jobs, yogurt stores, Top-o-the muffin, Soup Nazi, etc. But I don't sense anything's gonna change much for this group, their sets, their lives, their jobs and interests. I find myself bored with the show; particularly Raj and Penny- she especially should be meeting and interacting with more people.
An incredible thing about ALL the repeats - TBS and local channels- is just how little has changed in six years. The recent show where Howard had his sob story about leaving his mom's house.. Ugh. He went to the moon, but they're just not gonna let him live a life now. His mom is just a sitcom joke contrivance, not a mother. How many more years has this show been renewed?