Confession; I don’t really watch Big Bang Theory. In fact I don’t watch a lot of television in the traditional sense, tending to catch up series long after they’ve broadcast. I’m yet to start Stranger Things Season Two, I’ve never seen an episode of Black Mirror and I anticipate catching up on Luther around the mid-2020s. So consider this a casual fan’s perspective on Young Sheldon. Those of you sharpening the knives to butcher my opinion - exhale. These ramblings are just that and in no way the definitive Young Sheldon primer.
With Big Bang cruising in its eleventh season, prequel series Young Sheldon has just begun its maiden voyage, debuting proper on CBS, November 2nd 2017. A full series order followed the pilot in September, and with the runaway success of Bang-Alpha it was always a safe bet Young Sheldon would get a chance to find its audience. The series deviates from formula in multiple ways; what is presented as a standard sit-com is in a lot of ways a distraction from the true story at the heart of the Young Sheldon show - the rise and rise of an outsider. Set twenty years earlier and narrated by elder version Jim Parsons, it explores the youth of one Sheldon Cooper as he begins High School early on account of his genius intellect. Gone is the live audience and multi-cam, and instead it’s single camera on location ala The Middle. Jokes revolve around Sheldon’s inability to function in the hierarchy of school and traditional society. Drama is found in shape of family relationships and the smart kid in the stifling environment of late 80s Texas. Jokes could be cheap - but the show seems determined to take the road less travelled, and what unfolds is an oddly compelling drama.
Knowing that Sheldon will succeed is key to the shows functionality. He will get out, make friends and find love. So many shows fall apart in the end because the story struggles to get past the gimmick, but this one has a clear end point which works to Young Sheldon’s advantage. Furthermore, the impending tragedy adds a layer of intrigue to the show. Older brother George Jr. has yet to be seen on Big Bang, and Father George Sr. is due to die in five story years - there’s serious drama ahead. Furthermore, as seen in episode two when Sheldon befriends an Asian, there’s a great opportunity to explore the changing landscape of the 90s in a time where, now, America struggles for identity. Problems lay ahead - Sheldon fatigue, a lack of supporting character storylines and the patience required to allow 9 year old lead Iain Armitage to find his feet, but Young Sheldon feels like it has the potential to be something between a Frasier and a Malcolm in the Middle, as oppose to a Joey by way of Ferris Bueller; the Series.