Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Young Sheldon season 6, episode 5.
Despite canonically losing his father soon, Sheldon has not spent much time with the Coopers in Young Sheldon season 6 and this could make his upcoming arc even sadder. While Young Sheldon has changed many details from The Big Bang Theory, the sitcom spinoff typically stops short off completely rewriting the canon of both shows. For instance, although Meemaw’s character changed between Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory, her late husband didn’t come back to life between the two shows, as this type of outright retcon would have stretched credulity too far.
Similarly, Sheldon’s father George Sr. turned out to be less of a layabout and a drunk than he was described in The Big Bang Theory and more of an agreeable, if flawed, everyman. However, Young Sheldon season 6 can’t ignore his impending death since The Big Bang Theory made it clear that Sheldon lost his father around 12 or 13. As such, Young Sheldon will need to depict George Sr.’s death soon, which might be a problem. So far, almost all of Sheldon’s storylines in season 6 have had nothing to do with his family, meaning his father’s death is likely to hit him much harder.
Sheldon’s Season 6 Stories Aren’t Connected To The Coopers
While Young Sheldon season 6’s Georgie story is directly related to the Cooper family (since he will soon make Mary and George Sr. grandparents), Sheldon’s subplots in Young Sheldon season 6 have had little connection to the Cooper clan. In Young Sheldon season 6, episode 1, « Four Hundred Cartons of Undeclared Cigarettes and a Niblingo,” Sheldon’s plot is linked to the rest of the Cooper family as he breaks the news about Meemaw and Georgie’s arrest to Mandy with Missy and later gives a scathing speech to Mary’s church calling out the congregation’s hypocrisy. However, since then, Sheldon’s season 6 adventures have largely been solo outings.
In Young Sheldon season 6, episode 2, “Future Worf and the Margarita of the South Pacific,” Sheldon is ignored and sidelined as he pitches Star Trek story ideas (and, later, cryptocurrency). In Young Sheldon season 6, episode 3, « Passion’s Harvest and a Sheldocracy”, while Mary’s tragic Young Sheldon season 6 arc begins, Sheldon is busy arguing about ethics in a college-set plot line. In Young Sheldon season 6, episode 4, “Blonde Ambition and the Concept of Zero,” Sheldon tutors his neighbor at his father’s behest, but the rest of his storyline’s screen time is dedicated to Sheldon discussing the concept of faith with his professors. Finally, in Young Sheldon season 6, episode 5, “A Resident Advisor and the Word ‘Sketchy,” Sheldon becomes an RA and spends the entire episode on campus, further removing him from the family dynamic.
Why Sheldon’s Plots Seem So Low Stakes
The problem with Sheldon’s storylines taking place outside the Cooper family home is that his adventures seem to be airlifted in from a different, more light-hearted show. While Missy’s Young Sheldon friendship with Mandy isn’t burdened with life-or-death stakes, the subplot does at least result in her parents walking in on a disastrous dye job. In contrast, Sheldon’s plot lines—from a crisis of faith to a brief attempt to take over his professor’s class, to a battle with his fellow dorm residents after he becomes an RA—have no impact on his family. Since the Coopers are dealing with Mandy’s pregnancy, George Sr.’s unemployment, and Mary’s expulsion from the Church, this all seems pretty low stakes.
Sheldon has, throughout Young Sheldon season 6, been left to his own devices. In the opening scenes of “A Resident Advisor and the Word ‘Sketchy,” Mary doesn’t even listen to his list of reasons for why he should be permitted to stay overnight in his college dorm, instead immediately granting him permission. Some of the best Young Sheldon storylines (like season 5’s comic convention) have seen Sheldon push against the limits of parental authority, but in season 6, he has been given too much freedom. From taking over his class and installing a short-lived « Sheldocracy » to being given carte blanche as an RA by the college president, Sheldon has too few limitations.
Should Young Sheldon Season 6 Reintegrate Sheldon?
That said,Young Sheldon could reintegrate Sheldon into the Cooper family’s stories before George’s death occurs in Young Sheldon season 6, However, that is not necessarily the best path for the series to take. Sheldon could get more screen time with his father so that George’s death doesn’t have a sudden, brutal impact on him, but keeping Sheldon separated from the rest of the Cooper family could make George Sr.’s death harder on him in a way that works for the character. It would be sad to see Sheldon mourn the loss of his father after a season where the two characters barely interacted, but this could explain why Sheldon had such negative memories of the character later on.
One of the biggest inconsistencies between The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon was Sheldon’s claims that his father was a shiftless drunk in the earlier series. Throughout The Big Bang Theory’s story, Sheldon harshly characterizes George Sr. despite how likable the character is in Young Sheldon. He makes his father out to be a meaner, less caring figure than viewers see, and Young Sheldon could explain the cause for this dissonance if season 6 keeps the two characters apart. If Sheldon and George Sr. don’t get more screen time together before George’s death, this could lead directly to Sheldon developing a defense mechanism via his blinkered, unhappy image of his father in The Big Bang Theory.
Young Sheldon Needs More George/Sheldon Stories
However, while Young Sheldon could justify Sheldon’s unfair view of his late father by keeping the show’s main character away from George Sr. until his death later in season 6, this will not necessarily be what is best for the series as a whole. Splintering the family and leaving Sheldon to go on solo adventures messes with the dynamic of the series since, at its core, Young Sheldon is a family show. While it can be fun to watch Sheldon struggle to control rowdy college students while Meemaw and Dale smuggle illegal poker machines across the Texas border, these plots don’t work as well as stories like Young Sheldon showcasing Sheldon’s similarities to Mary when George Sr. convinces him to tutor his neighbor.
This plot introduced viewers to a new side of Sheldon’s character and the development came about because of George Sr.’s involvement in the plot, proving that the duo can benefit from shared screen time. While it might be tempting to keep Sheldon and Georg Sr. apart throughout Young Sheldon season 6 to explain Sheldon’s cold attitude toward his father in later years, this approach is not necessarily worth missing out on more interaction between them. While Young Sheldon could ground Sheldon’s future perspective by keeping a distance between Sheldon and his family in season 6, The Big Bang Theory spinoff would be better off focusing on Sheldon and his father’s shared storylines while the show still can.
Young Sheldon airs new episodes on Thursdays on CBS.