I was never a big fan of The Big Bang Theory
: the gang of nerds was too obsessed with stereotypic masculinity, loudly proclaiming "Aha! You're really a woman!" when one of their crew (usually Raj) made the slightest feminine gesture. And gay people did not exist, except for an occasional homophobic joke.
But I did like the character of Sheldon (Jim Parsons), a theoretical physicist whose eccentricities place him on the autism spectrum. At first I thought he was gay; then he starts dating a girl,but insists on no physical contact, so I concluded that he was a hetero-romantic asexual.
The prequel, Young Sheldon
(2017-) cost an exorbitant $35 per season on Vudu (I won't even pay that much for Riverdale
),but it just dropped to $15,so I plugged it in. I've seen the first three episodes.
It's 1989, and 9-year old Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is living in East Texaa with his Dad, football coach George (Lance Barber) and his Mom Mary (Zoe Perry), who is a quasi-fundamentalist Baptist (there are wine and cards in the house, which a real Baptist would never permit).
He also has a 9-year old twin sister (Reagan Revord), the standard pre-teen operator, and a jock older brother Georgie (Montana Jordan, the only one of the cast with beefcake photos available).
"Meemaw" Connie (Annie Potts) differs considerably from how she is described on The Big Bang Theory
. Here she is a chaotic presence, drunken, shady ("Shelly, can you use science to predict who will win the big game? Meemaw owes some people money...") I'm surprised the parents let her babysit; she'll just get drunk, fall asleep, and leave the kids alone to get into mischief.
His parents can't afford to send him to a private school for the gifted, so Sheldon is going to high school with teenagers. This would be a problem for any 9-year old, but Sheldon's quirks make it worse. For instance, he insists on pointing out the violationa of the school dress code and hygiene code, for both students and teachers.
After three episodes, it is obvious that this is no sitcom; it is a family warmedy, like The Wonder Years
(with the adult Sheldon narrating), dedicated to demonstrating that, in spite of his intelligence and various quirks, Sheldon loves his family and will do anything to help them.
Mom: Who's going to church with me today?
Sheldon: I'll go.
Sister: But you don't believe in God
Sheldon: But I believe in Mom.
They get the church right, anyway, instead of making the Baptists Catholic. Pastor Jeff (Matt Hobby) is apparently a regular, stopping the service to spar with Sheldon about the six-day creation of the world:
Jeff: There was no Big Bang, just the Word.
Sheldon: What word was that, "Kaboom"?
I was interested in the episode where Sheldon promises to demolish Pastor Jeff's belief in God "next week." But then his Dad has a heart attack,so Sheldon finds the hospital chapel and prays for his recovery (to French philosopher Blaise Pascal, not to God, but still...).
None. There are some locker room scenes, but the entire football team seems to be comprised of 14-year olds.
No. There are some exteriors, but nothing impressive. By the way, they drive through endless farmland to get to school, but the psychiatrist's office is walking distance. Somebody check the geography of this town!
Like on The Big Bang Theory,
gay people do not exist. But like The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's lack of heterosexual interest can give him a gay reading ("Cheerleaders hugged me! It was dreadful!"). The other 9-year olds on the show, Sheldon's sister and the dimwitted boy next door, are hetero-horny.
The gay reading is particularly evident when Mom encourages the loner Sheldon to make a friend, using the same language you would use to promote romance ("you can't be alone -- you need somebody."). When Sheldon finally finds Tam (Ryan Phuong), the family is so excited that they invite him over for dinner and pepper him with questions ("So -- how did you two meet?), precisely as if he is a boyfriend.
In the next episode, Tam shows up at the front door, wearing a suit, and asks "Is Sheldon at home? I want to ask him to come wijth me to a party."). It turns out that he is just using the newly-popular Sheldon to get into a popular party, where he can meet girls, but he acts precisely as if he is asking Sheldon out on a date.
I'm not even going to go into the gay symbolism of the scene where Tam is eating Red Vines, and Sheldon becomes fixated with his mouth. He's actually just hungry, having had no solid food for several days, but still....
See Also: 10 Homophobic Things about the Big Bang Theory